Let It Go
September 1, 2018 @ 8:00 am - September 3, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
Just Let It Go
There was a fable of a dog who just could not stand for another dog to get the best of him in any way. One day the dog came across a large juicy steak that had somehow fallen off a meat wagon. The dog picked up the steak and started running with it. All was going well until he started across a bridge with water underneath. He noticed, there under the bridge was another dog with a big steak in his mouth.
He began to growl at the dog, and it looked as though the dog was growling back at him. He got so upset that he went to bark at the dog, and when he opened his mouth, the steak fell out into the river and sank to the bottom never to be seen again. Only then did he recognize he was looking at a reflection of himself in the water. When those feelings of anger rose up inside of him, all he had to do was “just let it go” and he would have enjoyed that steak.
A couple of years ago near Akron, a man was driving with his family, and was rudely cut off by a taxi driver. It really made him angry. When the traffic stopped, he jumped out of his car to give the driver a piece of his mind, and maybe even a piece of his fist. When he went after the taxi driver, the driver responded by pulling out a gun and firing. The man fell dead in front of his wife and his kids. He never thought that decision to get even would cost him is life, and his family untold suffering and grief. All he had to do to avoid this tragedy was too “just let it go” when he felt wronged.
Jesus came with a strong message dealing with revenge. He said in Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This one verse is enough to keep some people from giving their lives to Jesus Christ. They’re thinking, “I’m not going to be a wimp”, “nobody is going to take advantage of me”, “if they hit me I’m going to hit them back.”
I hear so often when someone is in trouble, “well she should not have called me a name, or he hit me first.” Yet this person is the one in trouble, and not the other one. In sports, the person who usually gets the penalty is the one who responded to an injustice in anger. In school, the person who is usually in the principal’s office is the person who was getting even. In life, the person who usually ends up in prison, is the one who is getting back at somebody.
When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, he is telling us to choose to live on a higher level and leave the idea of revenge to God. Think for a moment, who is it that you might have an idea of getting revenge against this day. Is it an ex-spouse who did you wrong. Is it your child’s father or mother who’s acting the fool? Is it someone who has taken the person you loved? Is it a boss whose mean or a co-worker who has stolen credit for your work?
Is it someone who has cheated you out of something that rightfully belonged to you? Is it someone who has hurt you because of something that was said or done? All of these situations lead to the desire to get even, to get revenge. Some people plot and plan for a long time before they finally strike back. In a Star Trek movie, Khan said, “revenge is best when it is served cold.”
But if you took that desire to get even back to Jesus, he would say, “I know that they did you wrong, but, just let it go. Look at what he actually said: Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven. There is a lot more to following Christ than showing up at church. To follow Jesus means a willingness to be obedient to God, even when it hurts and you don’t feel like it. You cannot be a wimp and follow Jesus Christ. You truly have to be a person of courage and of faith. You trust God to be able to make wrong right. Anybody can respond with a fight or a gun, but only the few and powerful can give it over to God.
Let’s read Romans 12:17-19 Romans 12:17-19 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. In other words, God is saying, “I saw the wrong that was done, now just let it go.” But God, we’re talking about my money here. God says yes, but “just let it go.”
Let’s go back to the book of Esther and meet a man by the name of Haman. Now Haman did not know God. But as far as this world was concerned, he was top dog, he was the man, and he had it all going on for him. King Xerxes had elevated Haman to the number two position in the kingdom. He had great wealth. He was higher than all the other officials. When Haman walked by, the people were to treat him as some kind of a junior god. They would kneel down and pay honor to him. The king even commanded that they do so. All this praise and attention caused Haman to get a really big head.
Now in the kingdom of Xerses which stretched from India to North Africa, God’s people the Jews, were scattered throughout the kingdom. Some of the Jews had a real problem bowing down to a man. They knew that God and God alone deserved to be worshiped. No doubt some of the Jews bowed, just to stay out of trouble. But one guy, by the name of Mordecai would not bow down when Haman passed by. Now Haman did not know a thing about Mordecai, he had not even noticed that Mordecai wasn’t bowing.
But there are people who just love to get things going especially when they are jealous. Somebody wanted Haman to know, “well you can’t be all that, because there is a fellow by the name of Mordecai, who never bows down when you go past.” Haman probably responded, “where is this guy when I pass by him.” The next time that Haman goes down that route, he cannot enjoy the praise he’s receiving because he is busy looking for Mordecai to be standing up. He’s riding and looking as people on the left and right are kneeling down. Then he spots Mordecai, standing. He looks at Mordecai the whole time he’s passing, and he’s getting hotter inside by the minute. The rest of the trip, all he sees is that Mordecai is standing. How dare Mordecai embarrass him or disrespect him like that.
One of the things that lead to us being hurt, is to have an over estimated opinion of who we are. Haman just knew he was somebody, and everybody was going to worship him and give him the respect he was due. Sometimes we forget, that we are not as important as we think we are. If we remember that we are here to serve Jesus Christ in every situation we find ourselves in, we realize there are plenty of insults that come our way. Yet often all we have to do, is “just let it go.”
If somebody spit in our face, must of us would forget all about Jesus and come down like a nuclear bomb on the person. Yet that may be our moment of truth in our faith. Somebody might turn to Christ depending on how they observe our response. Can we remember they spat in Jesus’s face , and Jesus said, whatever they did to me, they will do to you also. Jesus did not spit back. He kept his mouth closed.