When Is Enough, Enough?

 

As we read our Bibles we notice that there is a time for everything. That raises a question about when is that time? Or in another context how much is enough to warrant a transition from one event to the other. Let’s look at the scripture that is the basis for these questions.

*   (Eccl 3:1-8 NIV)  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (That pretty much covers everything.)
{2} a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
{3} a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
{4} a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
{5} a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
{6} a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
{7} a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
{8} a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Consider the following and ask yourself if there is a limit?

*   (Mat 5:38-41 NIV)  "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' {39} But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. {40} And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. {41} If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

 

Or, how about here?

*   (1 Pet 3:8-11 NIV)  Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. {9} Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. {10} For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. {11} He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

Or here?

*   (Rom 12:17-21 NIV)  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. {18} If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. {19} Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. {20} On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And here?

*   (1 Cor 6:7-8 NIV)  The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? {8} Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

 

 

And it goes on and on.

*   (1 Th 5:14-18 NIV)  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. {15} Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. {16} Be joyful always; {17} pray continually; {18} give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

And on and on.

*   (1 Pet 3:9-13 NIV)  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. {10} For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. {11} He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. {12} For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." {13} Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

 

But does the Bible really require us to be that passive. Is there a point when we can say, “Enough is enough?”

*   (1 Tim 5:8 NIV)  If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

*   (Luke 22:35-36 NIV)  Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. {36} He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

*   (Mat 21:12-13 NIV)  Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. {13} "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"

*   (Mark 11:15-17 NIV)  On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, {16} and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. {17} And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

*   (John 2:14-16 NIV)  In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. {15} So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. {16} To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

*    (Eph 4:26-27 NIV)  "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} and do not give the devil a foothold.

 

So we see there is a place for anger and for action. What was the justification for what Jesus did? Was He defending His Father or Himself or His family or His faith? Yes, all of the above. And He also allowed others to defend themselves when He told His disciples to arm themselves.
But there is definitely a balancing act involved for the scriptures also say:

*   (Luke 17:3-4 NIV)  So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. {4} If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

*   (Luke 6:27 NIV)  "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

 

So how much is enough? Must we suffer anything and everything? Ask Elisha.

*   (2 Ki 2:23-24 NIV)  From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" {24} He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

*   (Rom 12:14 NIV)  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

*   (Psa 18:37-40 NIV)  I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. {38} I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. {39} You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. {40} You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.

 

We sometimes hear about righteous indignation. Some of what we have been reading appears to be the justification for the actions and requests we see taking place. But be careful for the standard is stricter than was thought by people in the Old Testament.

*   (Mat 5:28 NIV)  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

*   Mat 5:21-22 RSV)  "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' {22} But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.

 

So when is enough, enough? It seems to me that personal insults directed towards us are not actionable. It may make you feel better for a moment or it may get you in trouble you could have avoided. You can certainly turn the other cheek but how many strikes with a bat or shots with a gun must you endure? Those things beyond your sphere of influence are certainly better left to God. It is not unreasonable to speak against evil and to stand up for truth. It is not unreasonable to ask God to take care of your enemies. Perhaps adversity can help them see the error of their ways. And perhaps the key is to ask whom you are concerned about and what you are concerned about. If the answer is you simply don’t like something then you are most likely overly concerned about your feelings. If what you are concerned about isn’t something you know God expects you to take a stand on then perhaps again the problem is mostly you. There is indeed a time for everything but wisdom and love cry out, “Watch your self.”