Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get a defender.
Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get a defender.
One of my proudest moments as a father was six years ago, when I went on the 4th-grade Big Island trip with my son Caleb’s class. I quickly discovered that 4th-graders today are like 8th-graders when I was growing up. They’ve already sorted out the cliques, popular kids, jocks, nerds, and bullies. In Caleb’s class, the most popular 4th-grader also happened to be a bully. He was going around telling kids he would be their friend if they gave him $20.
I found out, and I asked Caleb if this kid had asked him for any money. He said, “No, why?” I told him what was going on, and I told him it would probably be best just to stay away from the kid until I got it taken care of.
Instead, he turned around, and walked straight over to the kid. He puts his finger right in his chest. “Hey, I heard you were making kids give you money. Is that true?” … “No.” … “You’re lying! Tell me the truth!” … “OK, yeah, just a few times.” … “Well stop doing it!” … “OK.” … “I’m serious!” … “OK.” … “I’m watching you!” … “OK!”
It was amazing. My son was defending the weak and the powerless. He was standing up for what’s right. He was pursuing justice.
Just like God. There’s a great story Jesus tells that shows how God loves to stand up for justice and defend the weak, by showing us a picture of the opposite:
In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ (Luke 18:2-3)
Let’s paint the picture. There’s a woman who just lost her husband, which means she’s got nothing. In that society there’s no life insurance, no retirement accounts, no social security. All she has is a little plot of land with a tiny little hut on it, for her and her kids. There’s enough space on their land for them to grow a few vegetables, just to keep themselves alive. But now, some guy has come in and claimed the land for himself. He says to himself, “Hey, it’s just a woman. What’s she going to do, fight me for it?” He kicks her and her kids off their own land.
Now they’re living in the streets. Sleeping in alleyways. Begging for food. Eating scraps out of dumpsters. Barely surviving. Finally, this woman can’t handle it anymore. She decides to go see the judge. But there’s a problem. She doesn’t have any money to bribe the judge. In those days, the only way you could get a judge to rule in your favor was to slide him a few gold coins, and from the way Jesus is describing this judge, he’s exactly like all the rest. He’s not looking out for justice, he’s looking out for cash money. And this woman doesn’t have a penny.
When the guard at the courtroom door realizes that, he won’t even let her in the front door. So she decides she’ll just camp out at the front door. Every morning, when the judge is on his way into the courtroom, there she is: “Give me justice against my adversary! My house has been stolen from me!” Every night, when he’s on his way home, there she is: “Give me justice against my adversary! My land has been stolen from me!” Every day. Day after day. “Give me justice!” So the story continues:
For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ (Luke 18:4-5).
He finally hears her case, but only because he wants her to get out of his grill. It’s not because he feels compassion for the woman. It’s not because he feels a burning desire to see justice done. It’s not because he feels motivated to help the weak. It’s only because he feels annoyed. So what’s the point of the story? Jesus tells us it’s this:
Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? (Luke 18:6-7)
In other words, even a thug will give you what you want if you find a way to twist his little pinky finger. So how much more will God give justice to the people he loves? If a homeless lady could get an unrighteous, unmotivated, uncaring beast like this judge to pay attention to defend her, how much more will our perfectly righteous, fiercely motivated, compassionately caring Father defend us?
And how much less do we need to try to defend ourselves?
God wants to be our defender in our MARRIAGES. Whenever I counsel bickering couples, I see how quickly nuclear war can break out because each of them feels the need to defend themselves against the accusations of their spouse. They need to prove themselves right. But if God is our defender, we don’t need to prove anything. We can trust God to vindicate us.
God wants to be our defender in our RELATIONSHIPS. I was just talking to someone last week who’s brother took more than $1 million from her. What if that happened to you? You could hire the best lawyer, take your brother to court, and destroy your relationship with him. Probably destroy the whole family. Or you could trust God to be your defender, and to bring justice as he would see fit.
God wants to be our defender in our WORKPLACES. Someone recently told me about how his coworker threw him under the bus in front of the boss for something that wasn’t his fault. He tried to tell his side of the story, but the damage was done. What if that was you? You could try to find justice on your own and fight as dirty as you need to fight, or you could ask God to be your defender, and let him worry about your reputation.
You don’t need to get mad. You don’t need to get even. You have a defender who will give you justice.