Today I tried to make my sister cry over the same issue I made her cry about when we were kids. At that time Mom and Dad had gone out for the evening and left the five of us kids home to practice some responsibility. Jeneanne, who is a year younger than I am, had the responsibility to cook supper and I was supposed to do the dishes. I looked at one of the pots and was frustrated to find that she had cooked whatever it was to the bottom and it was going to take some serious scrubbing. I hated doing the dishes at the best of times but this was, to my way of thinking, far beyond the call of duty.
The rule in our house was that if you cooked you didn’t have to do dishes, but I was convinced that since she caused the extra work she should scrub the pot. And since I was the older brother I thought I could force her to do it. Well if you know my sister, you know she does not force easily and she strenuously resisted my efforts to make her do my job. The result was a very loud and animated “discussion” that I pushed her to tears in and lasted till Mom and Dad got home. They ended it fairly sharply at that point and, after appropriate ‘ahem’ reinforcement of the house rules, we apologized to each other for handling the situation the way we did.
This week I was studying why God was so upset with his people in chapter 5 of Isaiah. A careful reading reveals that his strongest condemnations were for the way the privileged and those in authority oppressed the vulnerable and took personal advantage of their position and strength. I, as would be true for most of us, didn’t see myself reflected in this passage, until God brought to mind that night when we were kids. I realised I had been trying to oppress Jeneanne and I knew immediately that I needed to call her and apologize. (No, I didn’t make her cry.)
Yes it was a long time ago, and yes we were just kids and it doesn’t seem like a big issue, but God hates when those who have strength, or authority, or position use that for their own benefit rather than to serve others. How many times have we done this in churches, or families, or at work? Before you protest your innocence ask God to bring to mind when you have been the oppressor. If you are willing to listen you may be surprised. I was.