Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV
As a kid, I remember watching Saturday television. In the days before cable, you received only a half dozen channels with grainy reception from the antenna. Following the morning cartoons came old western movies with actors like Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne. The plots usually involved someone doing someone else wrong, followed by retribution. These often led to a shootout, sometimes in the middle of some desolate street with the townfolk looking on, between the white hats–the good guys–and the black hats–the bad guys.
Sadly, real life imitates the fiction of those TV shows too frequently these days. With the growth of gangs, drug wars, mental illness, and other stresses, the most minor infractions spark a chain reaction of death and grief. Today the violence is often black hats against black hats, with white hats caught in the crossfire.
Jesus asks that we be white hats–bearing with each other with understanding and forgiveness. He tells us, "do to others what you would have them do to you." (Mt. 7:12) We are to extend compassion, gentleness, kindness, and love. In doing this, we may just get some folks to change their hats. But, even if that never happens, in acting with righteousness, we feel the peace of Christ in obeying his command.
Precious Lord, we acknowledge at times, we feel anger and the urge to lash out when we've been wronged. Forgive us for those all too human responses. Fill us instead with your peace. Help us to treat that person with the same kind of love you extend to us. Give us hearts of compassion, gentleness, kindness, and forgiveness. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.