“Two wrongs don’t make a right!” If I heard this one time growing up, I heard it a million times. When I was angry with my sister or felt wronged by someone else, those were the very first words that came out of my dad’s mouth. He was teaching the principle found in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil, insult with insult. On the contrary repay evil with blessing because to this you were called so that you may inherit blessings.” As a young girl this was very hard to do and, as an adult, it is still very hard to do. Hopefully, we all have an inner sense of “self-preservation” to protect ourselves from harm. I think God put it there as described to us in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else GUARD your heart, because everything you do flows from it.”
On the “Back 9,” if I could go back and re-teach one thing more accurately to our children, it would be these two principles. Since they are young adults now, I talk about this when there is opportunity and really intentionally try to live it out more by my actions. “Live out loud” is what I like to call it. I do believe as Christians we have to forgive wrongs and not seek revenge when someone wrongs us, but we have to look at the context of each situation and be willing to “confront” in the appropriate manner when wrong is being done. Reminding you all the while, confronting is not revenge.
For example, when our kids were playing in golf tournaments, at times they would come home frustrated over someone cheating on the golf course. At times they would not say anything, but come home or back to the hotel very upset or frustrated. I believe it was their responsibility to confront, not falsely accuse, but confront wrong. The game of golf is called a gentlemen’s game. If they are in a group where cheating is going on, it is their “responsibility” to protect the integrity of the field. Another example is cheating in school. I am not at all implying that my kids are innocent or haven’t at times been capable of these things and done them. We all are guilty. Yes, I remember cheating on a test in school. Ashamed to admit it but, if we are truly honest, we ALL DO WRONGS THAT WE NEED TO BE CONFRONTED ABOUT.
Many times confronting doesn’t happen either (A) because we ourselves are guilty too, or (B) we just don’t have the courage to confront. Many times fear of what others would think or say or fear of being cast into the “lime light” of confronting causes us to just remain silent. When we witness or see wrong as a Christian, it is our job to pray and APPROPRIATELY confront. Reminding you here, you can be “sincerely wrong” in how you go about confronting. It requires prayer and the right spirit and motive. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because you have been wronged, doesn’t mean you can respond inappropriately.
Recently, I had the parenting opportunity to encourage one of our young adult children to “confront wrong!” It was an opportunity to come along side of them and teach them as an adult how to appropriately, respectfully, and biblically confront. It was extremely hard to do. They were extremely fearful. But the inappropriate behavior was growing, becoming repetitive and WRONG on ALL LEVELS. I was responsible, as the parent, to teach the verse, “guard your heart”. The outcome of confronting wasn’t at all what we had hope for in terms of the response of the other party, but has proven to be for the “greater good” for our child. Time continues to reveal many things. Evil is prevalent in the world. Romans 3:23 says, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of glory.” We all fall short, but that is no excuse to ignore blatant wrong. Ephesians 4:18 says, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the HARDENING of their hearts.” That is the verse I used to help our child understand, some people are unwilling, when confronted, to admit to their wrong. They have a “HARDENED HEART”. I had to continue to teach it is our job to appropriately confront but it is also our job to leave the consequences up to God as stated in Romans 2:6, “God will repay each person according to what they have done.” We cannot control anyone’s behavior but our OWN. We are not responsible for the other person’s response, only our own.
The job now, after confronting, is to teach repeated forgiveness, sometimes daily. And to pray for the other person or persons. The last part of the verse in 1 Peter stated above says to “repay EVIL WITH BLESSING.” What does it look like to bless someone else that has wronged you? Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Living the Christian life and doing what the word of God says isn’t always easy. In fact, at times, it is downright hard. WE are required to do it and not go “AWOL”. With the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is the only way I have found to live out these verses. I am not able to do it in my own strength. I have loved reminding myself of a verse in James, which I continually find much comfort in when I am wronged or when teaching our “kids” how God commands us to appropriately respond when they are wronged. The comfort is found in James 2:25, “But the man who looks intently in the perfect law that gives FREEDOM, and CONTINUES to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but DOING IT—-he will be blessed in what he does.”
WE all need to remember, and my dad always said, “If you are in the ‘majority in your behavior,’ you better take a look. I find the people in the minority are usually the ones doing the right thing.” When we are wronged, our natural human tendency is to seek to get even (majority). The harder thing is to confront, if necessary, and trusting God with the outcome, even if you don’t get the desired outcome in the other person’s response. I now see and understand to a greater level that he was implying that doing the hard right thing is something very hard to do. Most people aren’t willing to do the “HARD RIGHT THING” because it takes them away from the crowd, or their normal human tendency, where most people are comfortable and gain instant self-gratification which is usually not God’s plan.
Both of these principles are important for many reasons especially in relationships. It’s hard, in the heat of the moment, to remember that “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” But there is great comfort in knowing that God is able to help us respond appropriately. Realizing that, at times, responding to wrong as God would have us to is a part of “guarding our hearts”.