Saturday, August 8, 2015

Text Treatise: How Do We Deserve to Be Treated by Other People?

This was a response to a friend's text. I had expressed frustration with the behavior of coworkers and she'd replied with the ever-relevant "anything better than hell is better than you deserve."

Well, there are two levels of "desserts." The one you mentioned is before me always and is a relished bulwark against pride and resentment. Then there is "what we deserve" in the sense of how other humans should treat us if they were acting in obedience to the Law of God and with the Love of Christ. So there is a sense in which it is wrong how you and I and any Christian is treated -- but it's not wrong because we deserve better on our merits, but because God says that there is a better standard by which they should be treating others. So not a dessert in an ultimate sense, but a dessert in the sense of idealized personal relationships.

Basically the ultimate sense is important to avoid sinning by thinking that we deserve any thing, which is pride: thinking we deserve more than we do, which in an ultimate sense is nothing good, and everything bad. The second sense is helpful in addressing grief and other emotions in response to ill treatment: that feeling such a way is valid and appropriate. You have been wronged, and you are not inherently wrong to feel anguished or even angry about it. "But in all your anger do not sin." It's helpful as a perspective on why it's wrong: it's not wrong, what they did to you, because you're hurt. That makes you the standard, and now we're back to pride. It's wrong because it's a sin against God. David after indirectly murdering Uriah: "against you, and you only, oh Lord, have I sinned." If you should be angry at mistreatment, it should be because they're dishonoring God, not because they insulted you. I try to harness my feelings of insult and turn it into zeal instead. To validate the emotions in an appropriate way, with truth.

~ Rak Chazak

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