Joan Pierce, a member here at Bear Creek UMC, showed me a strange picture yesterday.  It was a picture of her cherry tree with pits only!   How could that happen?   She said the night before she had heard a bunch of crows outside in her back yard and when she woke up…this was what she found: a cherry tree with just the pits.   That’s the way life is sometimes, right?  Not only is life the pits, but sometimes it just feels like someone is rubbing it in.   Not only do you get cut off in traffic, but the person in front of you must emphasize it with the lifting of one finger!  Come on…do we need that? Or you get your tax refund back, expecting a healthy refund and instead you get a note saying you owe $730!  And $200 of that is a penalty for paying late, when you know for sure you mailed it 3 days before the deadline!

A couple of years ago I had an old Geo Metro.  Do you remember those?  Two doors, three cylinders and 4 squirrels under the hood.   Well someone in my church needed a little boost so I lent it to them for a week while their car was getting fixed.   A week later they called me and said a storm had come up in the night and the wind had blown over a tree in their back yard.  Unfortunately, it landed on my Geo Metro! It was not a pretty sight!  

Sometimes that’s the way life is…the pits with a little crow rubbed into it! And when that happens, we tend to want to respond in the same way.  When someone raises the wrong finger, we want to raise that same finger back.   When we get a $730 bill from the IRS, we want to knock on every door of the people who owe us and demand payment now!

But the Bible teaches us to live a “more excellent way.”   In Romans Chapter 12, Paul says:

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another…17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil...18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends… 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Wow!  Are you kidding me?  Say what!  You mean tomorrow morning Joan is supposed to go out and put a box of cherries out there by that “pitted” tree just to show those nasty crows’ kindness?  Not on your life!

I think Paul is insisting that you respond with goodness in order to save your life!  Think about it!  What happens to you when you start paying evil for evil?  What happens to you when you “take revenge” on those who hurt you? Well if you are anything like me, you end up turning into the very people you despise!   You can’t just take revenge and then go back to being good all the time, because taking revenge has a power to it…a spiritual force comes with this action and that spiritual force is not good! 

So, the next time you want to raise the wrong finger in response to someone’s ugliness…consider instead…redirecting that anger into goodness.  Try transforming that revengeful attitude into something with one of Jesus’ beatitudes!  Do you remember them?

Your friend and pastor, heading out to Joan’s place to try to talk her out of shooting those crows with Andy’s shotgun, Brook

Tim Schaaf