In which a simple choice reveals so much

by Craig on February 18, 2011

And so today the meanest person I’ve ever known

The one who has done more damage to me than anyone else in my life.

The one I have forgiven freely without ever requiring an apology.

The one who made a 5 year old boy choose to be the target of abuse so nobody else had to be.

Has again unleashed venom.

It unsettles me.

It brings back memories I’d rather not have in and around my mind. When I was a child all I could do was take the abuse. As I got older I chose to be silent about it – although it spoke to me on a daily basis and colored almost every choice I made. Then as a Christian adult I let it all go – I forgave unforgivable things.

And today he struck out again.

Every part of me wants to retalliate. The case is easy to win. I’m a much better debater. I have much more ammunition. I could slice this person ten ways to Tuesday. I could release decades of retribution in a volley of words that would cut. him. to. the. core.

I can choose to decimate him.

I want to run with this opportunity and bring. him. low.

But is it just chance that I have this blog?

That daily I study God’s Word and share with you what I find?

That I chose many months ago to dig into the Book of James with you?

And then on this day, this is the verse would be the target of study?

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. (James 1:26)

If I choose to do what I want I’ll have a victory. I’ll have a sense of justice rendered. I’ll have revenge. Because if I choose, I can make him feel as small as I was when he had me pinned to the ground as a child.

All I have to do is to deceive my heart and admit the following:

my faith is only facade

my belief is all pretend

that, as James puts it

my “religion is vain”.

Do that and I can claim my victory. Have my revenge.


I can “bridle my tongue”.

Every day choices avail themselves.

One way and I build my faith, honor the one I claim to be God, live as though my belief is real.

Or weaken my faith, dishonor the one I claim to be God, and show my faith to be pretense.

And I know enough of God’s word to have it ring in my ears at times like this.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

(Romans 12:17-21)

I need Our Lord much more than I need any revenge.

So today the tongue will be bridled.

Today I will honor the one I know is God.

I will choose a faith of steel over one of paper.

And I smile a little at the simplicity of the choice.

God bless.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Dayna February 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

Glad for your choice… I know it’s not easy in the flesh, but with the Spirit inside, it’s possible! :)


Craig February 18, 2011 at 9:23 am

Amen Dayna – any psychologist would have said long ago to dump the toxic person – but God makes it clear I should not have – and so I haven’t. I’ll be praying about the correct response to this – in love – and will “bridle my tongue” until I am clear how Our Lord would have me respond. And your words are so good, “not easy in the flesh, but with the Spirit inside, it’s possible!” amen and amen – and thank you.


Kim February 18, 2011 at 8:27 am

I am so sorry for the unleashed venom. The fruits of the spirit are so evident in your choice. I like the sense you have that the Spirit has been working on you to prepare you for how to respond to the rising venom…maybe even before it was obvious to you.


Craig February 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

Even my anger? Even my desire to “let him have it? – my first response – my desire to just destroy him with guilt and words – that was all human – not spirit. To be to the point where the fruits of the spirit rise to the top first – even in an emotionally explosive situation like this – with a person like this – and a history like this – that is to strive for. Thank you for your kind words. Obviously there is still work to do on me – but there is eternity to get it all done – and God loves us imperfect and all. No?

Thank you Kim. God Bless.


JennaFarelyn February 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

Praying for you, and so grateful for your honesty in this present moment. Your blog is a real gift.. clearly for you, and also very clearly for your readers.


Craig February 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

Jen – seriously – too kind. My blogs – especially this one – have the privilege of starting with His raw material, His inspiration, his His Word or His love as the base – and then most of the time just me getting out of the way. He’s a big God – and uses imperfect vessels that try – so I’ll just be like the “think I can” train and keep trying. Praying for you too :) God Bless.


Anonymuss February 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Craig, thank you for your example! This challenge to step back from an opportunity to see justice done so that you can practice the way of Jesus is huge…what an enormous temptation to do what would feel so good (and even be justified), and yet you choose the Jesus way. I pray for your continued strength and victory in this area and rejoice in your choice! I am already thinking about how to apply this to my own life and a couple of the people in it…


Craig February 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Thank you A. And it’s not just in this instance – every day choices –

choices – and grace – God bless.


Dianna McBride February 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

“And then, on this day, this is the verse would be the target of study?” quoting of James 1:26 ….the sovereignty of God is a wonderful tool as He shapes His vessels of clay, yes?

Praying for you, Craig. I know it comes easy to our flesh to want to lash out, but Abba has also been teaching me the lessons of bearing fruit by yielding to the working of the Holy Spirit. It isn’t easy…but with Him it IS possible. I’m looking forward to the day you are able to share the victory of this hurtful person’s changed heart and life. I’m adding it to my prayer list in my journal and will be praying to that end daily.


Craig February 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Thank you Dianna. I find it so hard to pray for this one. I do it but sometimes wonder if my heart is in it, and if it’s not – well God sees the heart. He needs pryer for the change that only God can make – and he is getting close to the time when it will be too late. We only have this life to decide. Thank you – and God Bless.


Alida February 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I need Our Lord much more than I need any revenge.

so true… it can be such a hard choice but a good one. Thank you.


Craig February 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

It really comes down to that so often Alida – I didn’t notice it until you pointed it out – that’s the answer to temptation isn’t it “what do I need more – what do I want more – what do I want all the time -and not just in this moment:” Only one person ever got that right all the time. And we know Him. God bless Alida – and thank you.


Anonymuss February 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Craig and Aida-what a spot-on way to think of temptations: which do I need more-God or satisfaction of my temptation!! Helps me to see clearly which god I am choosing in terminology that frames it clearly for my daily use. thank you both!!!!


Debbie February 19, 2011 at 1:40 am

Sorry, late to the conversation here! But benefiting so much by it all. Craig, what you face in this is really huge. It’s a lot to ask of you. And, it says a lot about you and who God is in you, that you were able to make the choice to not seek revenge. It hurts me though. But, I know God knows and is holding you. He’s smiling and saying , this is my child, in whom I’m well pleased. Praying as you must continue to deal with this person. May God be your anti-venom.
On my part, I gave in to temptation and said some things today that I wish I hadn’t. I went down your list and could check those things . . .my religion is vain. Could you pray for me? I asked for forgiveness and received it, but there is always going to be a next time. I want to make the right choice. Thank you.


Craig February 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

First I know this much Deb – when we mess up our religion is not vain. James is very Jewish Christian – but he is Christian – he knows of Grace. He gets rules-y but his brother IS GRACE – so he knows forgiveness. I just finished praying for you to accept that forgiveness – and for future strength in this area – we all need prayer – I’m honored that you’d ask. Just be careful to never be more strict than Scripture – James here is talking of the one who does this by habit – not occasionally – we ALL don’t bridle our tongue enough :)

God Bless.


Mari February 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Humanly there is no way to do this…to choose forgiveness after so much pain. But you have your “anti-venom” that makes it possible. And I can see He is working in you in this area. Its the only way. =)


Craig February 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

It is the only way. This has always been THE forgiveness issue with me – and it is impossible without Our Lord. He has made it possible. And he makes loving – when there is no “love” possible. Thank you Mari. thank you. God Bless.


Misty February 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Is it any coincidence that the Mass readings today included “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…” (Matthew 5:44-45) and you left me a lovely comment and I came here to say thank you and read your painful post? I think God wants me to remind you of this verse, to remind you that you are HIS child and HE will take care of the person of whom you speak. May God’s grace bless and keep you today!


Craig February 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Misty – it began painful – and ended healed – I am still deciding how to respond – I know though that because of Our Lord it will be in love. And please pray for me to be able to pray for him – that is hard. to do good to him, to act in “love’ towards him – that’s not so bad – but to pray for him – there is the struggle – to pray and really mean it.

Thank you – encouragement always welcome – as is prayer.

God Bless.


Alicia The Snowflake February 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Ahhh…but it’s so much more difficult to hold the tongue that it is to unleash it. And in that resistance, the victory is gained. Thanks for this great example, Craig. Blessings to you!


Craig February 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Thank you snowflake. I think the real measure of being a good example would have been to take the words, understand the source, know he’s weak and vulnerable now, and have compassion – and not to have gotten to the point where I had to bring myself to the right reaction – but already have been there. But this teaches me something more – when even a “victory” is only evidence of how far we fall short – that shows me how amazing is the Grace of the only perfect One.

Thank you Snowflake. God bless.


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