In his book Hurt Healer, Tony Nolan speaks right to the heart of my work…counseling others or “soul care” as I have talked about before. (For further reading, refer to this link: https://browneyedbrains.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/soul-care/). Anyway, in one portion of the text, Tony talks about the relationship between the German soldiers on the West and East sides of Berlin. Sounds boring, I know, but bear with me. I promise this is going somewhere.
Although Germany was one country, it was split in half due to opposing and non-compromising governmental views. To put it plainly, the East side was Communist and the West side was Democratic. Naturally, those living in the East wanted to go West, but when they tried to do so they were shot and killed. This deterred others from trying to escape. The military enforcers for each side greatly despised the other and the East particularly always campaigned against the West. One day the soldiers from the East decided they would play a trick on those from the West. They gathered enormous dump trucks and filled them with tons and tons of trash, sewage, food waste, etc. While the West were sleeping, the East snuck over and dumped the garbage right outside their barracks. When the soldiers from the West awoke, not only was there a horrible smell but there was clean-up for days. A while passed and things were quiet. One day the soldiers from West decided they wanted to retaliate against those from the East. The next morning, soldiers from the East found a mountain of non-perishable food items outside their door stacked neatly with a note that read, “Each side gives what each side has to give.”
This story is a prime example of what is commanded of us in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
How many times do we forget this command or ignore it all together? There will always be those who do you wrong, but we are instructed to rise above. Be the bigger man. It’s hard, but it’s required.
1 Peter tells us that in order for us to receive the blessing intended for us in the situation, we must first extend the olive branch to the adversary.
This can be seen again in Genesis 50:20 when Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” We must not forget that each part of our journey has been mapped out before us and touched by the hand of the Lord. If we just let him work in our lives and strive every day to be more like his son Jesus, the malicious intent of others will be transformed to good. However, this can only be done if we surrender the temptation of our flesh to take care of business ourselves.
I am just as guilty as anyone with this. There have been times where I don’t wait a moment before striking back at my adversary. Then I wonder why things didn’t turn out like I anticipated in the end. I can’t repay evil with evil. I can’t fight the power of the devil alone. All I can do is call upon God to reign supreme and get the devil back in check. Call on God to help me ward him off.
Each side gives what each side has to give.
This is true no matter who’s on the other side of the fence. Whether it is friend turned foe, family turned stranger, or brother in Christ turned Satan’s puppet…. Each side gives what it has to give.
The glorious thing is that you have a choice what you are going to give. Are you going to repay evil with evil in attempts to out-evil the other person? Or are you going to be the bigger person and practice grace and forgiveness? It’s up to you.
It’s not easy to repay trash with good food. It’s just not. There are people that are hard to love. Hard to forgive. Hard to stomach. But that’s what we, as Christians, are obligated to do. Some may call these people soft or cowards. To just sit by and let others slander their name or spew words of hatred towards their neighbors. But that’s not what God calls them. He calls them brave, he calls them mature, and he calls them good and faithful servants.
As a Christian grows in his walk with Christ, the fruit of the Spirit should be increasingly present in his life. Those things identified in Galations 5:22, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. As a Christian matures, so should his fruit. If you look around and don’t see these things in your life or the lives of those around you, maybe you aren’t maturing like you should be. Matthew 7:16 tells us that a tree shall be known by its fruit. Good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. What kind of trees are you picking from when you make you delivery to the “other side”? Like a fruit tree bears what it produces, you give to others what’s in your heart to give.
Which side of Germany are you on?