When other people treat us badly, or backstab us, or wrongly speak ill of us, how are we to respond?
Jeremiah Burroughs, in The Rare Jewel of Contentment, answers that question by reminding us that, even when others mistreat us, it is no excuse for growing anxious, angry, or discontent.
He says this:
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“I think I could be content with God’s hand,” says one, “So far as I see the hand of God in a thing I can be content. But when men deal so unreasonably and unjustly with me, I do not know how to bear it. I can bear that I should be in God’s hands, but not in the hands of men. When my friends or acquaintances deal so unrighteously with me, oh, this goes very hard with me, so that I do not know how to bear it from men.”
For taking away this reasoning, consider:
1. Though they are men who bring this cross on you, yet they are God’s instruments. God has a hand in it, and they can go no further than God would have them go. This was what quieted David when Shimei cursed him: God has a hand in it, he said, though Shimei is a base, wicked man, yet I look beyond him to God. So, do any of your friends deal injuriously with you, and wrongly with you? Look up to God, and see that man but as an instrument in God’s hands.
2. If this is your trouble that men do so wrong you, you ought rather to turn your hearts to pity them, than to murmur or be discontented. For the truth is, if you are wronged by other men, you have the better of it, for it is better to bear wrong than to do wrong a great deal. If they wrong you, you are in a better condition than they, because it is better to bear, than to do wrong.
3. Though you meet with hard dealings from men, yet you meet with nothing but kind, good and righteous dealings from God. When you meet with unrighteous dealings from them, set one against the other. And that is an answer to [this trial].
* Source: Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 190–191.