“Do not say, ‘I will do to others as they have done to me; I will pay them back for what they have done.’”Proverbs 24:29
It’s interesting how the Bible edits itself. Some folks think the Bible is the “inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God.” Strange. The Bible corrects itself on many occasions. Here the Word of the Wise corrects the blood thirsty cry of Lamech in Genesis 4:23-24 and the Lex Talionis of Exodus 21:12ff. And the Wise anticipate Jesus whose Golden Rule stands much of Old Testament vengeance teaching on its head. I had a professor in seminary who said “Reading is an art.” I think he was right!
So what is the wise thing to do, say, or think. In this same chapter the Wise teaches “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall…or else the LORD will see it and be displeased. (Proverbs 24:17)”. Here is a clue. We are to have regard for all people, we are “not to fret because of evildoers (v. 19) nor are we to ignore the wicked (v. 25). Rather we are to “give an honest answer” which is “a kiss on the lips (v. 26).” Here we find a way of living that is consonant with the love of God.
Alas, we are often quick to judge. The impending problems of The United Methodist Church are tinged with judgment. We all could listen and learn from the Proverbs which teach us to seek the knowledge of God before we act, and never to assume we have all wisdom. Rather we are to correct our understanding, even as scripture corrects itself, as new insights and new grasps of truth are revealed I believe by a loving Father who seeks justice and love for his children.
Brody Childs on Unsplash