All this brings me to three helpful principles to live by when it comes to life’s most subtle temptation. Each is worth remembering when we are mistreated.
First, since man is depraved, expect to be mistreated. The same nature that beat in the heart of Saul beats in the heart of every person, yourself included. When we are operating our lives in the flesh, we will respond like Saul. Or, if you are the person who’s doing the mistreatment, the offense, come to terms with it. Call it sin.
Second, since mistreatment is inevitable, anticipate feelings of revenge. I’m not saying retaliate. I’m saying anticipate the feelings of revenge, because you can be sure they will come. It’s the nature of the beast. Handling mistreatment doesn’t come naturally. Which is why Jesus’ statement is so revolutionary: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”—not as they do to you. Rare is the individual who will not retaliate, or at least not want to.
Third, since the desire for revenge is predictable, refuse to fight in the flesh. That explains how David came out on top. His men said, “Go get him, David.” He almost did, I’m convinced. But when he came near the king, he got cold feet and just cut off a piece of robe instead of plunging his knife in Saul’s back. Then he made it right.
Let’s leave the ancient scene and bring this truth home to rest today. If you are resentful of the way someone has treated you, if you are holding it against that person, hoping you can retaliate at least or get even, you need to ask God to free you from that bondage. The secret, plain and simple? Forgiveness! Claim God’s power to forgive through Jesus Christ. Begin by asking His forgiveness for excusing and cultivating that deep root of bitterness within your own heart. Ask Him to expose it in all its ugliness and put it to death. Jesus Christ, who went through hell for you, can give you the power you need to overcome the worst kind of condition in your life.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.