Ever get the feeling you are being taken advantage of? I do, and I hate it. I really don’t mind being generous. If I think the waitress did a good job, I’ll leave her a 30% tip. If I appreciate how quickly the cab driver got me to the airport, I might give him an extra $20. If I just feel like being a nice guy, I’ll shovel the snow for three or four of my neighbors. But I hate being taken advantage of.
I’ve been finding myself in a lot of situations lately where I felt like someone was taking advantage of me.
- The maebaan (Thai for “maid”) who charges us for a day what others charge for a week.
- The car salesman who sells us a car with engine problems and an undisclosed wreck.
- The realtor who paints my entire house whether it needs it or not, because I’m not there to remind her that I told her it was painted less than a year ago.
- The men who come to my garage sale as a group and distract me while they steal hundreds of dollars worth of tools.
- The street vendor who charges me double what a local would pay.
- The eight-year-old who pretends to be sick so that he can stay home from school and (try to) play Nintendo.
I don’t think all these events are coincidental. When you start to notice a pattern of trials in your life, there’s a good chance God is trying to teach you something. So, I’ve started to wonder why being taken advantage of bugs me so much. The short and ugly answer…pride. I don’t want to be the fool. I don’t want people talking about how they got one over on me.
Fun’s all over. Now that I know where the anger comes from, I’ve got to do something about it. Ugh!
That means I must… “love (my) enemies, do good to those who hate (me), bless those who curse (me), pray for those who mistreat (me). If someone strikes (me) on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes (my) jacket, (I should not) stop him from taking my shirt, too…” (Luke 6:27-29)
It seems like an impossible standard, but here’s what I’ve realized. While it’s about me, it’s not really about me. Yes, God wants to change my heart and help me practice humility. But that’s just the means to an end. God’s target is the heart of the person who witnesses the humility.
If I put away my selfishness…if I let that person take advantage of me and do nothing to assert my “rights,” God gets the glory and someone’s heart might be changed. I will probably look pretty foolish. I may never have the satisfaction of having someone know about the ego sacrifice that I made. There won’t be a final set of stanzas where Kenny Rogers sings about how I got my revenge on all those Gatlin Boys.
But the Christian’s life doesn’t end like “Coward of the County.” We aren’t guaranteed “success” here on earth. Our lives might look like complete and total failure from a worldly perspective, but God uses a different yardstick.
Contrary to public opinion, meek’s not weak. It’s restrained power. Think omnipotent God submitting to an unjust persecution from His own creation. Angels with drawn swords – rescue but a breath away – but choosing to endure because His eyes were on the eternal goal. That’s meekness, and it’s the currency of heaven.