In Victor Hugo’s classic masterpiece, Les Misérables, he tells the story of a man named Jean Valjean, who was imprisoned for 19 years because he stole a loaf of bread. Once he is released, it is only an illusory freedom. He cannot find anywhere to work or stay because he is an ex-convict. He finally finds a compassionate bishop who takes him in, but he repays the man’s kindness by stealing his silverware and slipping away in the night.
The police arrest Valjean and bring him back to the bishop to be charged, but in a stunning display of mercy, the bishop tells the guards that the silverware was a gift and demands that they release him. He challenges Valjean to take the silver and use it to become an honest man—a moment that powerfully transforms his life. I encourage you to watch the clip below
It is quite natural for people to seek revenge when: They feel they have been attacked and suffered some unjust loss or injury. As a result they feel anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, or shame. They are humiliated, especially if they are made to feel powerless, foolish, ridiculous, stupid, or ashamed.
I helped him when he was in need. But he didn’t even bother to ask me, how am I doing, when I was in a great need. Next time, I am not going to help him at all
This is a negative emotion, which is definitely not going to do any good to our inner being. The more grudge we have on the inside, the more uncomfortable we would be. As someone rightly said,
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die
In this post, let’s discuss few practical steps to make sure we nurture the positive emotion instead of being resentful, angry or upset. The following points are based on ‘love’, the unconditional love, which can change one’s mindset, which can change the heart of a criminal to a child like one. One example which I can show you, is the life of Jesus Christ. He changed this world with love.
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
What were the basic principles taught by Jesus, in order to love unconditionally? The following 3 principles were taught by Jesus, in respect to relationships. These might seem very hard to follow, but not really. All it takes is a matter of a change of mindset. Let’s discuss further
1. Do to others what you expect them to do for you
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matt 7: 12)
This is a very powerful statement. As a human being, you have some expectations from other people, whether be it in a husband-wife relationship, parents-children, brothers-sisters, society, among colleagues, among relatives or whatever! And when that expectation is not met, you may feel upset or can even become angry about it. That’s when this powerful principle can be applied.
Don’t worry that they haven’t done that good thing to you. You can start offering that same thing to them, which you expected of them. It could bring about amazing results.
Let me give you an example
That close friend of yours didn’t invite you for their important function like wedding or house warming and so on. Naturally you may feel like you want to teach them a lesson. You decide not to invite them for your important function, and intentionally let them know via social media that the event happened. This is one of the natural ways we human beings react.
But there is a better way: They didn’t invite you. Ok, now it’s your chance to take that first step of unconditional love. Do unto others what you expect them to do for you. You go and invite them in a special manner, by going to their house, and handing over the invitation card. You intentionally forget what happened, and decide to love unconditionally.
Just imagine the outcome. You guessed it. There is a high chance that the relationship will get more strengthened, and the negative feelings turns into positive emotions like love, kindness, peace etc. That’s the power of this principle.
Few other examples in our daily life
- A colleague walks towards us from the other side, he/she didn’t even put a smiling face. Ok, now it’s your chance. Do unto others what you expect them to do for you. Next time, you can start smiling at them, when you see them. Do this all the days, and slowly you will see a change in their attitude. Who knows, maybe this could make their day, and ofcourse yours!
- You expect your spouse to make you a coffee when you are back from work. But he/she didn’t! Ok, now it’s your chance. Do unto others what you expect them to do for you. When he/she is back from work, why don’t you make a cup of coffee and welcome him/her with a gentle smile
- When you were in need, you sent an email (or gave a call) but he/she never responded. But when that person was in need, he calls you. Ok, now it’s your chance Do unto others what you expect them to do for you. Attend that call with a gentle smile on your face, and ask him, “How can I help you?” (as if nothing had happened)
There are millions of instances in our life, where we can practice this simple step of humility, and let me tell you, it not only brings a great positive energy in that relationship, but it also makes you a better person of kindness, gentleness and love.
Do unto others what you expect them to do for you. Let’s move on to the next. The following principles also have the same essence
2. Love, Pray, Bless, Do Good
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 27, 28
This is a great commandment to follow.
- LOVE your enemies
- DO GOOD to those who hate you
- BLESS those who curse you
- PRAY for those who mistreat you
How, in the world is this possible? Good that you asked! It’s all about your mindset. It is our pride (ego) which will keep us from following this. If we willfully and intentionally humble ourselves, then it will be much more easier to follow this.
Jesus Himself gives us the practical examples
- If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
- If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
- Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
3. Overcome evil with good
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12: 17- 21
This is self-explanatory. You will never be able to overcome evil with evil. It will produce more evil. You can never remove darkness with darkness. You need to switch on light. Similarly, do good and overcome evil. That’s the only way.
- If your enemy is hungry, feed him
- If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. This is the revenge that has the greatest impact.
Are these truly practical?
Yes, it is! But, we need to seek the help of God, who asked us to do this. Jesus did it, and if He could do it, we will definitely be!
Honestly and sincerely ask God, “Lord, would you please help me to do this”.
Do you think He is too cruel not to answer that simple prayer? Never! He will give us the abundant grace to do it. Just try! Face it with honesty, surrendering every area of your life to the One who alone can help you.
Are these practical? What do you think? Could you please give your life stories, where your simple act of kindness brought about a big change.
Story of Jean Valjean copied from https://www.generals.org/articles/single/overcoming-evil-with-good/