During my years as a pastor’s wife, I’ve received my share of persecution from church members. One particular time came when a friend of mine spread some gossip about me. Although the rumors weren’t true, it damaged my reputation as a trusted leader within the church.
When I found out about it, I was devastated.
How could a friend do that to me?
How could she be so cruel and heartless?
As one of my first hurtful experiences within the church, I didn’t know what to do with my feelings.
I wanted to retaliate.
I wanted to yell and scream.
I wanted to make her feel as bad as she made me feel.
Above all, I wanted revenge.
In my grief, I cried out to God. How can I handle this pain in a godly way?
One day, he showed me.
On a women’s retreat, I spent the morning getting ready. As I dressed and began my morning routine, I heard God whisper softly into my heart: Wash their feet.
I wasn’t sure what I had heard. Had I been right? Wash their feet.
I searched the kitchen of the retreat facility, scouring it for a basin and a towel. All I could find was a stainless steel bowl and a hand towel. It would have to be good enough.
Still confused about the unexpected calling, I kept it to myself.
The speaker at the retreat began her second session of the day and preached on Matthew 5:43-45:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Then I knew. I had been right all along.
Through my tears, I announced I would sit up in the small loft area above the main meeting area and that God was calling me to wash their feet. I assuaged their fears about being vulnerable, and let them know it was more uncomfortable for me then it would be for them.
I took my place up in the small loft and sat in silence, hoping at least one person would appear. I situated the basin near a bench that each woman could sit on. One by one, each woman sat down. I knelt beside them, gently dousing their feet with lukewarm water. I took the towel and dabbed every inch of their foot until they were completely dry. My nerves slowly melted away; I was actually enjoying it.
Then she appeared.
She sat down on the bench, took my hand and said, “I should be the one washing your feet.” I let go of her hand and I placed her foot in the water. She, in a place of authority wiping her tears away as she stared down at me, I hunched over the basin looking up at her, washing the feet of my Judas. My one chance to retaliate, my ultimate revenge, all washed away in the stainless steel basin that day. Instead of hands clenched in revenge, I opened my heart to let the crimson- stained love of my savior in. I didn’t need my feet washed—my heart was already clean.
It was the sweetest revenge of all. Instead of temporarily bandaging the wound of my heart by getting revenge, I let my savior heal it instead through service.
We all have had a Judas in our lives, someone whom you trusted with the key to your heart that takes the key and throws it away. Your tendency is to want to seek revenge against them. But God offers us a different way:
When someone damages your reputation, serve him.
When someone spreads lies about you, pray for her.
When someone hates you, love her.
Because demonstrating the unconditional love of Jesus is the sweetest revenge of all.