Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who is righteous? And does it matter?

I've been wanting to post this for a while, but honestly, I've been ashamed. One of the enemies I struggle with, someone I've posted about before, attacked me recently. And I violated my promise to myself that I wouldn't say anything back. Yep, I made a snarky little comment because the hurt I'd been keeping in finally boiled over. It wasn't the right thing to do. Sure, it felt good for a moment, especially because others backed me up, but inside, I had the sick feeling of knowing that in being right, I was wrong. Terribly wrong.

In our critique group last week, one of my critique partners brought a piece she said was rough and she didn't know what to do with it. I don't know if it will ever be something more than just a simple outpouring of her heart, but it touched me profoundly.

She quoted Ecclesiastes 7:16 "16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?"

The point she made with it was that in her argument with someone, she was right. But the more she tried to press her point, the worse things got for her. Even though she was right, she was wrong to demand to be acknowledged as right. In being righteous and wise, she destroyed herself.

I realized, as I let the words hit me in the heart, I was being overly righteous with my enemy. She is wrong. On a lot of levels. But that does not give me the right to act wrongly towards her in my pursuit of justice. Because yes, I want for her to acknowledge that she has mistreated me. I want for her to offer me a sincere apology for all the things she's done to me. Honestly, I'd just settle for her not being so mean to me. But God says, "it is mine to avenge." Deut 32:35 says it plain as day, and it is quoted throughout the Bible.

So why am I puffing myself up in righteousness, thinking that it will somehow bring this person to justice? All I'm doing is bringing myself down. This person is not going to change based on my attempts to change her. She is probably looking at the situation, thinking she is the one who is right. That she somehow has the obligation to treat me the way she does because in some way it is righting a wrong. Her puffed up righteousness is bringing her to ruin just as surely as it is to me.

Will I see the day? I don't know. I don't even know that I can have the right heart about it. Proverbs 24:17-18 says "17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." Ouch. I guess there is still a lot of work to be done in my heart.

Somehow, I'd thought it was enough to not attack back. But God requires something deeper from our hearts. Maybe that's why I got to the point that I simply couldn't take any more. I'd outwardly been obedient and not attacked back. But inwardly, my heart was (and still is) filled with so much ugliness toward this person, it was bound to come out. I pray that I can find a way to love this person, not just on the surface level, but deep within my heart.

What is better? To be right? Or to be right with God? I've been right for a long time, but I desperately want to be right with God.