“Love does not delight in evil”. Karma. Payback. What Goes Around Comes Around. You Reap What You Sow. He got what he deserved.
Delighting in evil is not about the evil in our own lives, but the enjoyment that we receive seeing harm or misfortune happen to others. It is so closely tied to keeping a record of wrongs. And it is so ingrained in many facets of our lives. When we are hurt by someone, and the same thing happens to that person, there is a sense of satisfaction that we get by watching that person experience the same hurt that we felt. There is a joy that it happens…”yes it happened to him! Or it could not have happened to a nicer guy!”
We see this all around us in the world…but it can also be much more subtle as well. When someone doesn’t follow our “advice” and makes a bad decision that becomes harmful to themselves, smugly we tell ourselves “I told you so.” Recently I became aware of a person I know that had been sexually assaulted. Before the incident, the person’s friends warned the person that the behavior could lead to trouble. My friend made bad choices and was assaulted…and the attitude of the person’s friends? “You ignored my advice…and brought it on yourself” Maybe they were right, but it does not do the person any good in helping them through a difficult time. It was not the loving response.
I know that there are people that at a minimum I have felt satisfaction at their misfortune…I have been happy watching them squirm as they have had to pick up the pieces and clean up a mess…This has usually been accompanied by a sense of self-righteousness as I see myself as better than they are. The thing is when I do this I forget when I was in their position and forget how even today, I can once again be in that position. When I do this my focus is on myself and not on the other people.
I think that the better response and example can be found in the Prodigal Son’s father…he had to know that the son was making bad decisions, yet he allowed him to go. When the Son returned in shame, he did not say “I told you so!” rather he had a party to celebrate the son’s return. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he viewed her with compassion rather than condemnation….he loved her.
One of the men that has been the most influential in my life to this day is Larry. I can remember a time Deirdre and I were making a decision that he probably didn’t agree with. Larry told me that it was our decision to make, and if it didn’t turn out right, he and his wife would be there to help us pick up the pieces…Almost 25 years later I almost remember this and the love I felt then, the love I felt afterward…the love I still feel and cherish. There was no condemnation…there was freedom and love. That love has always been there…that love is still there to this day.
Love like this does not come naturally. It only comes through the transformation that takes place in our lives. This is the man I want to be, but so often I fall short. I need to learn to love like this. I need to continually learn how not to delight in evil…any practical suggestions?
One postscript to this. As I have been doing a “deep dive” on what it means to love, I have been continually challenged to live out what I am learning, to be transformed into a loving man…some days I succeed, some days I fail, but I realize that I that it is a journey and adventure to become a man of love. I don’t know if I ever can be as loving as I am called to be here, but as long as I continue to strive for this, perhaps I will become more loving every day. This is a high standard that I am not sure anyone can live up to…there have been some like Larry that comes far closer than I do…what I do know, is if I fix my eyes on the Author and Perfecter of my faith and continue on a prodigal’s journey to him, then perhaps each day I will become a little bit more like this.