In my opinion, there are a number of very difficult things for a career criminal or street person to get victory over after they are saved. One is how they deal with people that rip them off.
This is an area in my life that the Lord has been dealing with me about, and I have some new victory to report to the glory of God.
Let me give you an bit of an idea how adverse career criminals and people who have done jail time (from here on I will refer to them as cons) are towards being ripped off.
In prison, cons have a set of jailhouse rules. One of the rules is you never steal from another inmate — it’s a major no-no. Anyone that is caught stealing (jailhouse thief) from another inmate is put out of general prison population into an area called protective custody or PC. PC is an area in prison where all police informants and sexual criminals go to protect them from harm from the general prison population.
If you get caught stealing from another inmate in prison, you will have to totally pack up all your belongings and move out of general prison population right away. It is called ‘getting checked in’. In federal prison, this is often accompanied with a beating or worse.
Cons despise being ripped off and often they will go to great lengths inside or outside prison to get back at anyone that rips them off. Intolerance and revenge toward those that rip them off is very much ingrained in cons.
The Lord has been dealing with me lately concerning my conduct and attitude when people rip me off. Because I buy and sell products and do consulting work on the internet, from time to time I get ripped off.
In fact, I just experienced getting ripped off for a printer. A person I contacted from Craigslist sold me a printer. I asked them to do a test print and show it to me when they dropped the printer off. They noted it had a blotch on the left side, but said it was the printer cartridge and that if I had problems they would take it back.
After I waited for 2 weeks to get the toner cartridges I ordered, I checked it and the problems were with the printer. I contacted the person back, but they refused to take it back saying it had been too long.
With the help of the Lord, I dealt with this person with grace and told them my position and asked for a full refund and then left it up to them as to what they wanted to do. When they refused, I left them with my email address to contact me if they had a change in mind.
I didn’t accuse them of ripping me off and I didn’t tell them I would write them up and ‘out’ them on my blog and rank that page in Google, like I have done in the past. I felt like I handled them very well, by the grace of God.
While I felt no bitterness or resentment toward them, it bothered me that I had been ripped off. I thought over in my mind what I should have done different. I should have went to his home and tested the printer fully. I should have gotten a new toner cartridge first and tried it when he said it was a toner cartridge problem. I should have gotten his commitment in writing to take the printer back if there were problems with it.
It wasn’t the $90, it was the principle of the thing — I just didn’t like getting ripped off.
I put the printer up on Kijiji.ca for free and noted that I had bought it from so-and-so and it didn’t work, and he wouldn’t take it back so it was no good to me.
I told the first person I met that I had just got ripped off. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t bitter, I didn’t have a bad attitude; I just didn’t like getting ripped off.
I had forgiven the person that I felt had ripped me off, but I hadn’t forgotten it. I had even went as far as to take a poke at their reputation in my post on Kijiji.ca under the guise that people need to be warned about these types and I was just being a good Internet citizen.
In the past when this is happened in my business, I would take the time to put up a page on a person and get it to rank for their name so when others Googled their name there was a documented account of how they ripped me off and a warning not to do business with this person. I would use this technique to get the person to refund me and it worked a number of times.
So the Lord started to work on my heart concerning this issue. The person that I had told I had gotten ripped off, and how much I didn’t like getting ripped off, told me the Lord could give me victory over that. Well, I thought I had victory. I forgave them; I didn’t hold it against them.
In the last eight or nine months I have been given a lot of thought about the Biblical way to deal with those that do you wrong. Due to my being banned from the Restoration, I have been considering how to act toward those that that do you wrong. How to deal with groups like the Holdeman and Restoration that, in my opinion, use spiritual abuse tactics to try to force their members to conform and accept their teachings.
Also, I read a very good sermon by John Wesley on The Cure of Evil Speaking and got such a blessing I made it into a booklet and passed it out. I have read Wesley’s booklet over a number of times, and the Lord has used it to help me have a greater carefulness about speaking about others.
So I started thinking what would Jesus do and what would Jesus want me to do. It wasn’t too long before I decided to remove the mention of the person on the ads I put up on Kijiji.ca and craigslist.com. Then later I am going to go and remove those pages I put up concerning those that ripped me off.
By the grace of God I am not only going to forgive, but I am going to forget and not talk about it. As a Christian, I can’t afford to give the devil any room to work in my soul. I must be careful and cautious to give no ground at all for Satan to work in.
We are called to forgive any brother that sins against us seventy times seven (Matt 18:22). We must not only say we forgive with our lips, but we must forgive with our heart, our mind, and our actions. We are called to speak of those things that are honest and of good report (Phil 4:8) and refuse to meditate, or put into other peoples minds, those things that are dishonest and of bad report.
We pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt 6:12) and we want the Lord to not only forgive the evil we have done in the past, but we want to take part in the promise that he will “remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:34) — therefore we are called to “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col 3:13).
If we “forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” ( Matt 6:15). In the parable of the unthankful servant who didn’t forgive one of his fellow servants, his lord was “was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors.”
Jesus explains the meaning for the parable by tells us that “so likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt 18:35).
It is the Christian’s privilege, to not only find grace to forgive from the heart those that do them wrong, but grace to keep quiet about it and not speak evil (Eph 4:31) of those who have done them wrong or slander their name.
The Bible teaches that we must not only forgive, as in not hold any wrong attitudes, but we must forgive unconditionally in the realm of expecting restitution.
While the process of dealing with a believer who has wronged us (Mat 18:15-17) is different then how we deal with a non-believer, there are some things that carry over. One of them is to “tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Mat 18:15).
We must not gossip around the wrongs others have done us. In fact, if we are following the Bible injunction to think on “whatsoever things are of honest” and “whatsoever things are of good report” (Phil 4:8), that excludes even thinking about how you have been wronged (other than to go to those who have wronged you and ask them to make it right). If we are not thinking about how we have been wronged, we will not be talking about it.
So not only must we forgive in our heart and have a right attitude toward others, but we must forget and not think and talk about it.
A good test to see if your conduct has been right toward those who have wronged you, is can you with out any shame invite that non-believer to church meeting if they knew everything you have said about them?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (1Joh 3:18).
–Is it gossip to speak about the wrongs a person has done in a way that will make them look bad?
–Do you believe that, according to Mat 18:15-17, if you have unforgiveness towards others, God will not forgive you, and that you could be lost over this?
–Have you really forgiven a person if you keep talking about how they have wronged you?
–Are you open to have God examine your heart to see if you have unforgiveness toward others?
–Will you go to prayer now and ask God to show you?