Dealing with anger, moving towards forgiveness

(Renier Lillie) #1

Hi everyone,

I need some help in dealing with a hard test of my faith. I hope this is not too personal, but I know that I can’t be the only one struggling with situations like this.

Today I feel like a poor Christian in dealing with anger. I find it extremely hard to honestly forgive someone that is vindictively threatening me and lying about me in spite of me confronting this person in a calm manner, showing them grace multiple times, and offering them reason and generosity. I’ve never had to deal with this level of vengefulness and stubborness before in my life, and I find it extremely hard to keep myself from reciprocating that kind of behaviour, which I know to be a sin. I am constantly praying about this and I’m struggling to find inner peace. I want to strike back by going to the authorities with the facts before this person can follow through on his threats, but because of the personal nature of the relationship, hoping that this person will come to his senses, and not wanting to go into an all-out war, I want to resolve things peacefully before things get there.

My question: when Jesus was threatened, lied about and falsely accused, how did He manage that? How can I be more like Jesus in this situation? He didn’t go to the authorities when they threatened him. But at the same time I also don’t want to get “crucified” for another person’s ignorance/deliberate vengefulness. Is that where I’m wrong? How do I accept that and make peace with that?

Any prayers would also be very much appreciated.


(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @Renier_Lillie - I am so sorry to hear about what you are coming up against. To hear to what you’ve described, the injustice of it all… no wonder you’re angry! :upside_down_face:

Just for a bit more context, I’m curious about a couple of things…

  1. What’s the power dynamic of the relationship? (in authority, under authority, colleagues)
  2. What do you stand to lose if you continue to absorb his vengefulness?
  3. What do you stand to lose if you fight back?

I just think of Jesus telling his disciples to be as ‘wise (or shrewd) as serpents and as innocent as doves.’ (Mt. 10:16) You obviously don’t want to sin against this person, but you do want to challenge them and expose their lies. Hoping that they come to their senses is a good thing, but that’s often not accomplished unless real, authoritative challenge is presented to them. If they can get away with it, they will often remain in their ignorance. Do you believe it is a sin to challenge them?

Furthermore, Jesus never let anyone ‘walk all over’ him…except when his time came, and he went to the cross. He was always challenging those that were seeking to entrap him.

I honestly don’t know what you should do, except pray about the way forward. And be ready to fight the battles that need to be fought.

Praying, brother.

(Renier Lillie) #3

Hi @KMac ,

I really appreciate your response. It’s quite a complicated situation. I’m going to try and keep it as simple as possible. I am a landlord by inheritance, and I am in the purpose of selling the property, but I had to fix a lot of things over the years in order to get it up to standard to sell. The area of the property is a poor area, and the tenants I’ve had to deal with have been… challenging. After having bad experience on bad experience with tenants, I took this guy, let’s call him Frank, in. He was looking for residence, I was looking for some peace, and working towards improving the property. I said he could work on the flat in exchange for rent. After seeing that the progress of work was slow, I started suggested solutions. Like him finding a proper job, being skillful as he is, and paying full rent, then I could use this money to work towards the improvements, and he can oversee and help. Or him paying partial rent while still working on the place. This he took very personally. Claiming his work is worth way more than the rent.
Long story short after a lot of arguments I asked him to give me a quotation of all the work he has done to date (22 months of residence). He quoted R113 665, which I knew was a ridiculous amount. I went and gotten a quotation from a professional contractor, which amounted to R24 465. I went to him, gave him the quote and a week to think about it. I said I didn’t want any money from him. I thanked him and offered him R70 400 for all the work he has done (which is 22 months of rent @3200 pm), and gave him notice. He replied by saying I owe him R43 265, and I’m stealing from him, threatening me that he will come and collect this money one way or another, and then blocking all communication, even ignoring me when I speak to him.
So answering your questions. I don’t know what I stand to lose, I don’t know if he will go through with his threat or how he will do it. But I have spent countless conversations with this man before this conflict. I’ve tried getting him on the right path, and if I go to the authorities, he will get into trouble for more than just our conflict. We might lose the progress I made with him to come back to God if I do that. In our conflict, I’ve challenged him every time, and I don’t think it’s a sin to challenge false reasoning. I’m ready for the fight. My problem is I’m TOO ready. Dealing with my anger is a problem and suppressing it causes anxiety for me.

I’ve been encouraged by Hebrews 5:

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

and Hebrews 12:

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I am trying to understand what this discipline is that I need to learn. As far as I can tell, it is the ability to endure. Sanctification isn’t easy, I guess.

(Kathleen) #4

Yikes. That is tricky…

So there is a sense in which you have the advantage in every way…legal, financial, socio-economic, even moral. And, being in the position of power, your concern is that, if you let your anger dictate, you would basically crush him? (I’m picturing the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18.)

I realise I don’t know you, or even the full story, but at the risk of sounding cold and unmerciful, may I play the advocate for you for a moment? :smirk:

I want to do so because you mentioned that you are suppressing your anger, which is causing anxiety. Not good! Our emotions are important signposts, and I imagine one of the things it is pointing to is the injustice of the situation. It’s important for you that you don’t minimise or dismiss that. Even if the anger is overlaid with stuff that we hate, like pride, self-pity, vengeance, bitterness, etc. - stuff that we are told to turn from - do not silence the voice of the injustice, no matter how large or small. I don’t know if you’re doing that, but just I wanted to put it out there for the record.

A couple of things that strike me about the situation you’ve described…

  1. It sounds like he’s extorting you…like he knows that you want to be merciful and fair, even generous and he’s exploiting that.
  2. It doesn’t really sound like he cares much about a personal relationship with you.
  3. It sounds like you are being emotionally blackmailed by the Enemy. You mentioned you fear that he would use your actions as an excuse to reject God? I hear you. It’s good to take into consideration how our choices will affect others, however we are not thereby responsible for every decision they make.
  4. It sounds like you’ve been very generous. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he lived rent-free for 22 months, then you additionally offered to pay to him the rent he would have owed you for those 22 months. And presumably, his one job was to work on the house?

After all of this, is he still living at your property?

Look, though it is true that Jesus ‘learned obedience’, Jesus was never held hostage by His desire to show mercy. People never extorted mercy from Him. He willingly obeyed the Father and went to the cross…for us.

Similarly, it is true that we, as God’s children, are disciplined, yet what if you are meant to be an instrument of God’s discipline in this man’s life, rather than this being all about your own discipline? (Though, no doubt, your discipline is also involved.)

I mean, am I way off base here? I welcome challenges to my reasoning… :slight_smile:

(Renier Lillie) #5

I must say I’m inclined to agree with you. That maybe he needs to be taught a lesson, and maybe, by some way of interpretation I’m supposed to be the instrument of justice/discipline.

But how am I supposed to then understand /make sense ofJesus’ teaching of Matthew 5:10‭-‬12 ESV:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

And verses 38 - 41:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

And lastly, and this is where my hope lies that he might come to his senses, 2 Timothy 2:24‭-‬26 ESV:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

This is the thing. This man professes to be a Christian… Although it is not evident in his current actions. His worldview is not based in scripture as a living text, but in his own summarized version of it - his words. Maybe he will come to his senses?

1 Like
(Kevin Hurst) #6

My brother @Renier_Lillie, what a difficult situation. May God grant you the wisdom you are looking for.
I appreciate your advice @KMac. I do ask myself in these situations if Jesus were here what would have me to do.
I appreciate your heart Renier, and I would support you in your decision. My dad and I run a small business together. About 3 years ago a subcontractor stole a large amount of money from us by submitting false bills. Our secretary trusted him and did not check to see if the bills were legitimate. This happened over a year’s time. We could go back and get all the documentation to take him to the law. But we are Christians as well. We try to take the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Sermon on the Mount as literally as possible. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, to give our cloak also. That Vengeance is mine, I will repay.
We try to take our Lord at His Word but still try to be as shrewed as serpents as well. After we found out what had happened we approached him about it. He promised that he would repay. He continued to work for us as a sub contractor for about 6 months. We made sure that all of his bills from then on were legitimate. But he soon disappeared and we have not heard from him since. He still has not paid us back.
This is not the only time that things like this have happened to us. But my testimony is that God has always provided for us. And I would say our community in the town we live in deeply respects my Dad for the way he runs the business.
There is another business owner in our area who is not a Christian. We work pretty closely with him on different projects and he always tells us that the reason people take advantage of us is because they know we won’t take them to the law. We have never taken any one to the law to get our money.
Just recently he came to me and said Kevin I have a lot of problems in my life. Would you be willing to help? Of course I answered yes. Who knows where this will lead.
I don’t know what is the right thing to do always in every situation. I think of the verse in James that says if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask. Then James 3:13-18 gives us the definition of what wisdom looks like.
My testimony is that God has been faithful to our business. We are heading into 35 years and we have 36 people working for us. It has not always been easy let me tell you.
But I think of the quote that Bill Clinton said of Mother Theresa, I heard Ravi give it in a talk once,
“It is hard to argue against a life that is well lived.”
Bless you brother

(Sieglinde) #7

Bless your heart. Your honesty is endearing❤️
My husband was recently tested in a similar manner. He did end up in court because it was a “landlord-tenant issue. My husband is good at keeping his cool but I am more emotional. There were a lot of lies and attempts to damage character. I was really impressed at how my husband responded. He did not open his mouth while this person was spewing lies. When the person was finished talking my husband did express that he had heard many lies then simply presented the facts and left it at that.
As for Jesus…
—Isaiah 53:7 part A…”He was oppressed and He was afflicted and yet He opened not His mouth”
When the moderator left the room my husband even tried to help the tenant. He told him he would work with him but if they went before the judge he (the tenant) would not get the same grace.
They did come to an agreement but the lies continued. The tenant even got with me a spewed more lies. Thankfully I showed him much grace. I was very kind to him even though I knew he was lying. I told him I was praying that he would find an affordable place to live. I told him that we were not out to make life difficult and we wanted all involved to move forward in a positive manner. And I continued to pray. The next day he came to me and apologized. I patted him on the shoulder and said “I really appreciate that, I forgive you.” So far it’s been more peaceful.
If we take time to step back and think about the true entity behind the persons lies, we may be able to get a better handle on it. Seeking the Lord in prayer and especially praying for this person will bring a better outcome for you. The person may not change, but you will and you —may—actually come to love them.
—Proverbs 25:21-22 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, the Lord will reward you”
I have failed at this many times but when I put it in to practice, it really works. —”Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and untried”~G.K. Chesterton
I know this is a long read😳 But I pray it helps you in this extremely difficult season❤️