On August 7, 2020, two Peoria, Illinois boys – Jude and Tristan – were robbed at gunpoint while selling lemonade in their neighborhood. The thieves stole all the money they had earned up to that point – $30. Police responded to Jude and Tristan’s call for help.
Along with making a report, the cops, wishing to encourage the boys, purchased some of their lemonade for $20 a cup. This was 20 times higher than the asking price of $1. The two policemen also called in their fellow cops to come and get some great lemonade, which they did, and before long the boys ended up earning 20 times what they had lost. The policemen wanted to do more than simply reimburse the boys.
Their ultimate goal was to ensure they felt protected and know that they are free to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit. Word traveled through the neighborhood about the unfortunate robbery, and those that lived there came around to support the boys business. Then, what appeared to be the entire Peoria Police Force, showed up to purchase Jude and Tristan’s lemonade. In no time, the boys earned a sum that exceeded $3,500 – more than 100 times what was originally stolen from them.
As I read this story it made me wonder, what if those two boys had said to the cops: “Forget about buying our lemonade, go after those thieves who stole our money! The city’s not paying you to buy our lemonade, but to catch criminals. So get going and do your job. We don’t want your charity, we want justice!” That’s not an uncommon human reaction.
Pockets Full of Kindness
Most of us have seen the 1946 Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. The movies climax depicts all the town’s people rallying around protagonist, George Bailey, who’s had $8,000 stolen by the movie’s villain Henry F. Potter. Proceeding a series of events, the town comes together to present a monetary amount far more than he would ever need in a lifetime. In the end, George Bailey realizes he’s “the richest man in town” because of his family and his many, many friends.
Despite the movie’s positive message, audiences have consistently objected to one glaring omission. According to a documentary on the making of It’s a Wonderful Life, viewers repeatedly complained that it failed to include Mr. Potter getting his comeuppance. This lead audiences to believe that Henry F. Potter was never caught or punished for his crimes. Regardless that the problem was solved with more than enough to make up for the wrongdoing, the villain’s downfall not being shown is what bothered people more so than joy over the ending. It’s as if we’d rather see the antagonist punished than the protagonist blessed.
If that had been the course of action by the police – to punish the bad guys instead of benefiting the good guys – the kindness that came from it might never have happened. To catch the thieves or let them run free matters not when you consider that the two young entrepreneurs would still be at a loss. Justice would not have necessarily restored their money, and it certainly wouldn’t have filled their pockets as full as the kindness of the police did.
This parallels the problem many people have whenever they’ve been wronged. You see, God promises to make up to His servants all that this world takes away (Joel 2:25).
As in the life of Joseph, what other people intend for evil, God will cause to work out for our good (Genesis 50:20). God promises to turn our curses into blessings (Deuteronomy 23:5). He promises to work all things(including the injuries other people inflict on us) together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Yet many of us refuse to forgive others and focus only on retaliation against our offenders. Thus, we become blind to God’s blessings and to the many ways He reimburses us for our loses. However, no matter what other people have done to us, God can make up for what they, and life itself, has taken away. From His infinite riches, God’s gifts will swallow up and obliterate any losses we suffer. So, please, don’t destroy yourself with anger and resentment (Matthew 18:21-35). Let go of those heavy burdens and embrace God’s love for you and His grace toward you.
Dear Father in heaven, You offer me all Your unsearchable riches in Christ Jesus and eternal life in heaven. Yet if I hold onto my anger and bitterness, I lose my power to receive them. Please, dear Father, soften my hardened heart and empower me to let go of my hatred. Help me to reach out to You, to forgive those who’ve wronged me, and to allow You to enrich me beyond my wildest dreams. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.