Great Big Cheaters

16 07 2011

Today I was thinking of how it feels to be cheated. There are different degrees of being cheated, I realize. There is the frivolous cheating that regularly goes on with games like Crib (seriously, your turn is OVER when you have pegged); and then there are the really painful kinds of cheating that leave you short-changed, short a friend, short a reputation, short a childhood, short a spouse.

What is cheating, exactly? Well, it is when someone gets what they want with some degree of dishonesty or unfairness or misrepresentation. If the cheating is done skillfully, it leaves the cheated hung out to dry with little recourse and quite speechless. That’s the problem, the speechlessness. The cheated doesn’t know how to react, what to say, how to say it, where to go, and what to do; but inside they burn with frustration that things are askew; are they the only ones who see this? Is there no one to defend them? Won’t someone make the wrong, right?

In order to balance the equation, if someone has been cheated, someone must pay. Until the accounts are balanced, whether the incident happened today or ten years ago, when there is an “amount” owing it’s an irritant, like a perpetually untied shoelace.

I don’t have the answers for everything; I don’t know how I would or should act if I experienced a hydrogen-bomb sized cheat; but I was thinking about cheating today and my reaction to it especially since 1 Corinthians 6:7b says “…why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?” Paul, by the way, is writing to the church in Corinth, and he is frustrated at the arguments and lawsuits that have sprung up between believers.

It got me to thinking about how I am when I have been cheated and feel I am owed something: when someone says they would do something and doesn’t; when someone has said they will be with me and aren’t anywhere to be found; when someone takes something from me they shouldn’t have; when an untruth has stolen my reputation; when I get the feeling that some wrongs are never going to be made right; it is really hard to let go when I feel cheated.

What I feel is resentful. What I want is for the truth to fly in with a cape and save the day. What I usually get though is one great big argument, a trail of gossip and an impasse.

Grrrrrrr.

I have been consciously trying to have a more “eternal” perspective about this lately. Trying, I say. I have looked at some situations where the scales of justice were off-balance and instead of my usual ruminations, I have wondered what it will be like when “all is restored.” If I had it my way, things would be set “aright” in this lifetime, but what if they aren’t? Can I look at the person who cheated me and see something different in them, a future when this “thing” is not of consequence anymore?

Even that can feel like a cheat. You mean they’re going to live this lifetime without ever making up for it and then once we are in heaven it is like it never happened?

What if I took that sentence and added one word? Jesus. It looks something like this:

Jesus: “…they’re going to live this lifetime without ever making up for it and then once we are in heaven it is like it never happened.”

I am cheated and a cheater, no one gets to say they are only one of them. That’s why grace was given to us.

So, there are some undone “things” in my life, situations where I really do feel cheated, but as I am stepping back I am beginning to see the wisdom of this 1 Corinthians 6 idea: “Why not accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourself be cheated?”

I don’t want to cop out. Its not like the Bible doesn’t call me to say something when someone cheats someone, especially in the defense of the defenseless; and it’s not like the Bible winks at sin among believers, waves a hand and says, “forget about it.” I think 1 Corinthians is just saying that I will be cheated and if there were a “How To Be A Christ-Follower” manual, it would most often say, “Leave it with me and just carry on.”

Along the way, things are going to happen that are unkind and uncalled for and unjustifiable. Don’t get stuck with your humiliation; don’t get stuck with hatred; don’t get stuck trying to balance the scales (it will probably never feel balanced anyway).  Let it go because Jesus didn’t make a big deal of it Himself. Just think of all the absolutely, completely unfair moments of His life. He never got off track with it.

I do not have this down yet, but as I am bumping into people in person or in my mind that I have felt cheated by, I am trying to see them like I will see them on the other side of life and you know what? It is kind of beautiful and pretty peaceful and most of all, freeing.

— Teresa Klassen

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