I was between a rock and a hard place. We had a difficult relationship with the colleague but were directed by our administrator to mend fences. At every attempt, he would say or do something to reveal his character, which was selfish and difficult. One person told me, “He doesn’t do anything that he won’t personally benefit from.” Nonetheless, my wife and I tried to do our part.
My family took the 2 hour trip to visit him. (We couldn’t get him to meet us halfway.) When we arrived, we exchanged hellos and made small talk. He was of course guarded but didn’t seem to have any problem discussing his issues with our other colleagues. He began to share his issues with a particular colleague who had gone through a difficult season, likely in some sort of burnout, and frankly, his closest friend.
I was shocked when he mentioned his name and in such negative terms, but not wanting to rock the boat, I didn’t confront him at that time. He shared his view that this colleague ought to just return home and stop being a missionary. So it came as a surprise for me to hear a few weeks later that he was asking this other colleague to consider moving and to join him in the work. This other colleague came to me asking for advice about moving.
I told him, based on conversations I had with the other colleague, I would suggest he shouldn’t. Particularly since in the previous conversation he told me about his doubts about this man I was speaking to. He also shared that he was thinking of returning to the states, which would mean he was asking him to move into this new city only to leave him there by himself so that he could walk away with a sense of leaving everything “covered.”
This other colleague had a hard time believing that and felt he should inquire from that other colleague if that was the case. And of course, when he did, it got ugly. I was accused of lying, of slander, and he made this public.
There was a side of me that wanted to set the record straight, to restore my great name and reputation, after all, he and I weren’t the only ones in that conversation initially, his wife, my wife, and all the children we had between us heard the whole conversation firsthand.
But as I sought the Lord, in spite of my own desires, He made it clear, that if I wait patiently the truth will come out.
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: Romans 2:6-7 KJV
Paul says in Romans, following paragraphs of discussion of hard hearted and unrepentant people, that righteous judgement will come, but not from mankind, but from a righteous God according to man’s actual sinful deeds. But here Paul greatly emphasizes, “patient continuance” in doing the right thing, which doesn’t include getting revenge, setting the record straight, or defending one’s honor, which is really a form of defending our own ego! It requires great discipline when we are younger in our faith not to go with our first reaction, but as time goes on, as our faith grows, we ought to arrive at the place in our walk so that it comes second nature to just wait on God.
Sometimes, we may never get to see the outcome of that reckoning, and frankly, the older and more mature I get, I don’t really want to see someone receive God’s wrath. Sadly, in cases like the one I mentioned, usually you see the casualties in one’s life before they themselves receive God’s judgement. It’s heartbreaking and no matter what they’ve done to me, I feel sorry for them and in all sincerity now can pray for them that they would see their error before God has to get their attention.
In the case of the situation that I was facing, it was a year. After a year, this colleague returned to the states and what I had said turned out to be true, thankfully, the other colleague didn’t make the move. I didn’t feel vindicated, I just felt sad for the broken fellowship and trust. I also was sad to learn of the casualties along the way of this man’s selfish and difficult personality and demeanor, in the ministry, in his friendships, and even in his family.
There is no satisfaction in vengeance nor in retaliation, only further disappointment. Satisfaction can be found in trusting a righteous and holy judge, but only in the sense of putting our anger and desire for justice behind us. In another sense, total satisfaction may be elusive apart from repentance. I sincerely pray for those who mistreat me, I intercede on their behalf that they repent and turn from their ways, before a Holy God must be their judge. I choose patiently waiting, not for judgement, rather interceding for repentance before Divine judgement.
Dr. Ronald Barnes Jr.