Reacting To Injustice

When Shechem…saw Dinah, he took her and he raped her (Genesis 34). 

There is no doubt that what Shechem did to Diana was abhorrent. The text is full of reminders:

  • an outrageous thing
  • a thing that should not be done 
  • Dinah had been defiled
  • their sister had been defiled 
  • he treated our sister like a prostitute 

Shechem never admits to his wrongdoing. We don’t even know if he told his father Hamor what he had done. Dinah was being kept in the city away from her family, so she didn’t tell her father Jacob. Somehow, however, Jacob found out and his response is curious: he did nothing about it (v. 5). Even as Shechem and Hamor address Jacob’s family, it’s Diana’s brothers who reply deceitfully, so either Jacob has left the meeting or he is still sitting there silently. 

Levi and Simeon have the same mother as Dinah. Their reaction to their sister’s defilement is extreme—they kill every male in Shechem’s hometown! 

Since Shechem hadn’t even mentioned his crime to his father, it’s possible that the rape of Dinah has been kept a secret from the rest of the citizens of his city. Perhaps if the other city leaders had found out, Shechem alone would have been punished, instead of the whole city being wiped out. 

Jacob’s silence and inaction to this injustice prompted an overreaction by his sons. 

When a leader’s response is inappropriate to injustice, the followers’ response is likely to become even more so. Injustices must be dealt with in a God-honoring way: quickly and appropriately. 

A mark of a godly leader is his appropriate and timely reaction to injustices.

This is part 50 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here. 

Interrupt Your Anxious Thoughts

David taught us how to pray after we’ve been stabbed in the back. Aren’t you glad that you can pray this prayer just once and everything is all better?! 

Oh, wait. It doesn’t really work that way, does it? At least it hasn’t for me. After I’ve been hurt, it takes quite a while to get to a place of healing. We have cliches for this sort of thing—phrases like “Once bitten, twice shy” and “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” 

We begin to react to the past instead of reflecting and responding in the present.  

It’s interesting that those who compiled the Psalter placed Psalm 55 where they did. There is no introduction that gives us a background or setting, but David still seems to be looking for those “Ziphites” that betrayed him to King Saul. 

Here’s an important physiological and psychological truth: Our brains cannot tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined threat. Our physical bodies react the same way in response to any threat. 

It’s interesting to note that both Selahs in Psalm 55 are in the middle of a sentence, almost as if David is interrupting his own thoughts. Which, I believe, is exactly what he’s doing. 

As this psalm opens David is still praying, but he’s praying about his internal threats: 

  • my thoughts trouble me 
  • I am distraught 
  • I notice the conversations and the stares of potential enemies  
  • my heart is in anguish 
  • I feel like terrors of death, fear and trembling, and horror are closing in on me! 

This leads to David’s fight/flight response (really, it’s his flight response): “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert.

David has been listening to himself, and he finally at least attempts to put a halt to these distressing thoughts with his first Selah— which means “pause, and calmly think of that.” 

Most of our natural reactions are driven by fear. But fear—by its very nature—is limiting. Fear keeps us tunnel-visioned on the perceived threat. Fear closes us off to accepting any new information. Fear limits our creative responses. Fear perpetuates more fear. 

So David tries a second time to Selah. He is attempting to interrupt his negative thoughts—to stop listening to himself and start talking to himself. To move from a self-preserving reaction to a God-glorifying response requires a Selah pause to reflect. Reflecting on things like:

  • Where will these thoughts ultimately take me? 
  • How has God responded before? 
  • What does God’s Word say? 
  • Could I imagine Jesus responding the way I’m responding? 
  • What changes can I make? 

I love David’s closing conclusion: “But as for me, I TRUST IN YOU.” He’s saying, “I’m not going to listen to those negative fears anymore. It’s time to put my trust in God.”  

David had to do this “evening, morning, and noon”—again and again and again! Until finally he could say, “I will cast all my cares on the Lord and He will sustain me; He will never let me fall” (Psalm 55:22). 

This is what Jesus promises us, “Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can access them all by clicking here. 

12 More Quotes From “Chase The Lion”

chase-the-lionI loved Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson! If this book doesn’t inspire you to do great things for God, I’m not sure what will. Be sure to check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy some more quotes from this amazing book.

“You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.”

“An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny! Killing Goliath was an epic act of bravery. Not killing Saul was an epic act of integrity.”

“One of the most important decisions you make every single day is what time you set your alarm to go off.”

“God doesn’t promise us happily ever after. He promises so much more than that—happily forever after.”

“In God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying. … In God’s book success is spelled stewardship. It’s making the most of the time, talent, and treasure God has given you. It’s doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.”

“Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey.”

“Fighters don’t walk away when the going gets tough; they fight to the finish for their convictions. Fighters don’t give up when everyone is against them; they fight against the status quo. And fighters don’t shrink back when the odds are against them; they fight for what they believe in.”

“It’s okay to talk to God about your problems, but at some point you have to flip the script. You need to talk to your problems about God.”

“Valor is less an action and more a reaction. If you judge a person by his or her actions, you’re judging a book by its cover. Reactions are far more revealing than actions. How you react in difficult circumstances is the litmus test of character. And you never really know how you’ll react until you’re the one who crosses paths with a lion. Valor is running toward trouble when everyone else is running away. Valor is going above and beyond the call of duty. Valor is putting yourself in the line of fire for someone else.”

“You know why some of us have never killed the giant, chased the lion, or walked on water? We’re afraid of looking foolish. But it’s the fear of looking foolish that is foolish!”

“Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us. … Instead of expending all your energy trying to get out of them, get something out of them.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry to begin the next chapter of your life that you fail to ace the lessons the current chapter is trying to teach you.”

You can check out the first set of quotes I shared from Chase The Lion by clicking here. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter, where I daily share quotes from all sorts of inspirational authors.

12 Quotes From “Think On These Things”

think-on-these-thingsJohn Maxwell’s books always inspire me to think differently. In Think On These Things—the first book Maxwell wrote—we get to see the seed thoughts that would appear in fuller form in his later books. Be sure to check out my review of Think On These Things by clicking here, and then enjoy a dozen John Maxwell quotes.

“Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.”

“The truth of a man is known not by how he acts when he is in control but how he reacts when things are beyond his control.”

“Your willingness to learn and adjust positively from mistakes and shortcomings will largely determine how far you will travel the road to success.”

“A thankful heart is one that has had time to count blessings.”

“Our spiritual, physical, and emotional condition will greatly determine how we react to situations. The better we feel, the more capable we will be to evaluate difficult situations and make important decisions.”

“If you haven’t made any mistakes lately, I question if you are trying hard enough. … When you make a mistake, you can resolve never to make another one. But that is impossible. You can decide that mistakes are too costly and become fearful of them, that that fear will keep you from fulfilling your potential. You can constantly think about your mistakes and live with regret, but that is self-torture. Finally, you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person, and that is progress.”

“Success is never instantaneous. It is never an accident. Success is continuous. It takes growth and development. It is achieving one thing and using that as a stepping-stone to rise higher up the mountain of accomplishment.”

“No problem will leave you the same person after it has gone. Problems are the great dividers between success and failure. How you handle them will determine on which side you will live.”

“An experience is not a failure if it prods us to keep on trying. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover how we failed and put that knowledge to good use. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover our own true selves. An experience is not a failure if through it we become better-disciplined individuals.”

“Problems are reminders. They remind us that we need God’s help to handle the upheavals of life.”

“Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lesson afterward. Experience is yesterday’s answer to today’s problems.”

“It is vitally important to realize that either the situations around us control our lives or we control them.”

Reaction Action

“Action has killed its thousands. Reaction its tens of thousands.” —E. Stanley Jones

  • Yes, he pulled out in front of you [action], but is tailgating him any better [reaction]?
  • Sure, she embarrassed you [action], but is slandering her any better [reaction]?
  • Yep, he lied to you [action], but is harboring a lifelong grudge any better [reaction]?
  • Okay, she tripped you [action], but is slapping her any better [reaction]?
  • That pastor betrayed your confidence [action], but is assassinating his character any better [reaction]?

“Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you. … The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.” —Lewis Smedes

“But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek.” —Jesus Christ

Rats In My Cellar

We started our Love To The Fourth Power series yesterday morning, looking at what it means to Love God with all your heart… and to love your neighbor the same way. As usual, I’m speaking more to myself than I am to our congregation. During my study time, the Holy Spirit usually does a number on me!

So here’s the recap from yesterday:

  • Loving actions are fine, but loving REactions are more important.
  • The way I REact may say more about my love-with-all-my-heart level than the way I act.
  • In order to know if my REaction is compassion, I have to take the time to reflect on my REactions.

I love this picturesque quote from C.S. Lewis:

“When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to mind is that the provocation was so sudden or unexpected. I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself…. Surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence of what sort of man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth. If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness did not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows what an ill-tempered man I am….”

I’m working on looking for the rats in my cellar without making any excuses for how they got there. I just want the Holy Spirit to reveal them and help me eliminate them.

I want my REaction to be compassion all the time.

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