In this issue:
Iplaced the box on the counter and slid a knife along the top edge, breaking the seal of the packing tape. I could hardly wait to see what was inside. I had ordered a shower assembly through an online auction site and the seller was in China. I had waited weeks for the package to arrive. The new shower was for a bath I was remodeling. It was the final item needed to complete the room. It felt like Christmas morning as I pulled the cardboard flaps open and lifted the bubble-wrapped items from the box.
My excitement quickly turned to dismay as I removed the bubble-wrap from the shiny chrome shower set. It was not what I had ordered. The unit was similar but significantly different. Now what was I going to do? I really didn’t want to return it but I needed to get it right so I could move forward with the remodel. I just wanted to receive the item I had ordered. Is that really too much to ask?
I contacted the seller by email and explained the situation. This began a three month back-and-forth process, trying to get the situation resolved. I emailed videos to the seller explaining what was wrong. Weeks passed. The seller sent another part intended to fix the problem with the first unit I had received. Unfortunately, the part they sent was also the wrong item. Once again I contacted the seller, stating in detail exactly what I needed to make it work. Weeks passed again. The seller finally sent another package. The package was supposed to have two parts in it. But when the package arrived, there was only one part in the package, and that part was also incorrect. It was as if they were not even reading my emails and just sending me whatever they wanted to send. I was at my wits end! I was so frustrated. By this point, the deadline to be able to leave feedback for the seller was approaching. Out of my extreme frustration, I left a scathing review.
The seller became hostile. The tone of our emails changed from amicable to confrontational. Finally the seller agreed to let me ship back all of the items to their office in China and they would refund me for the shipping since I had received three different shipments of items I had not ordered.
Because the return box was so large, the return shipping was a whopping $108.20. I contacted the seller to be sure they wanted to pay that much for the return shipping. They replied and assured me they would refund the shipping cost when the items arrived in their office. So I sent it off, paying for the shipping, knowing that the seller would refund it when they received the items.
Unfortunately, after the seller received the items back, everything changed. Suddenly the seller would no longer communicate with me. I realized pretty quickly it was doubtful I would get any refund for the shipping. I sent an email demanding what was fair. I insisted on what was right. I was only asking them to follow through on what they had promised to do. I contacted the auction site and had them intercede on my behalf. My blood pressure rose with every confrontation. I was going to win this one, that was for sure. It would be only what was fair.
The seller finally contacted me and rudely stated that he would only refund a portion of the shipping. I was incensed. “No way,” I fired back, “you owe me what you promised!” And back and forth it went. I hated it. It just wasn’t fair.
Until one night I realized that God did not call me to demand what was fair and just. He called me to be loving. Ouch!
I thought about the guy in China. The Holy Spirit worked in my heart about my attitude toward him. I wasn’t being loving at all. But that’s not who I am. And that is probably why the whole debacle had left such a bad taste in my mouth. I wasn’t responding in line with who I am in my relationship with God.
So I did the unthinkable. I sent an email to the seller apologizing for being so focused on “fair and just” instead of loving and kind. I apologized for the way I had left the negative feedback out of frustration. The feedback was a fair analysis, but the way I had done it wasn’t very loving. I could have given him another opportunity to make it right but in my haste and frustration I had blasted his reputation. I shared with him how God had changed my life through the person of Jesus Christ. I told him that God had provided for all of my needs and that if he, the seller, needed the money that he owed me for the return shipping, he could just keep all of it. That’s right, all of it. It just didn’t matter to me.
I can almost hear some of you saying “Yes, but he was in the wrong. He had promised to refund you the return shipping.” And that is true. But hear me on this, the love I have for others is not dependent on whether or not they deserve it. It is based solely on the character of who I am in my relationship with God.
God did not command me to love others who deserve it or who earn it somehow. He called me to love others as myself, giving them the same grace I give myself when I blow it. I am quick to give grace to myself and to minimize my sin. I should be quick to do the same for others as well. But I wanted what was fair. I wanted what was just. I wanted my way. But Paul wrote “Love…does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, ESV).
When I sent that email to the seller, offering to completely wipe clean the debt he owed me, what I gained was far more than the $108.20 that I was owed. I found freedom. The weight of that need for justice had been bearing down on me. In a moment that burden was gone and in its place was a peace and contentment that came from knowing I had done what was pleasing to my Father. My only regret is that it took me so long to figure that out. I even offered to pray for him and his family and told him that he was welcome to contact me if I could help him in any way. It felt wonderful! What a difference.
Friend, what is it in your life today that is weighing heavily upon you? Are you frustrated, like I was, because you are insisting on justice and what is fair? Perhaps someone has hurt you deeply by what they said or did. It was wrong. And it is possible the damage they did was far more than financial. You deserve what is fair and just. But your need for justice is hurting you far more than you realize. Give it up! Let it go! Choose love instead and you will be amazed at what it will do in your life. Love others with the same grace that you give yourself. Let go of this idea that you have to have your own way. It is a bondage that costs far more than anything you could gain by way of justice.
It is what God has done for us. Do we really want God to give us what is fair and just? If he did, none of us could have a relationship with him. What is fair is that I pay my own penalty for my sin. But God gave me his Son to pay that penalty on my behalf. Talk about unfair. At our best, we cannot come near him. But he did the unthinkable. He chose love over what was fair. He looked past our sin through the cross of Jesus Christ and gave us love instead of justice. Imagine that!
For those of you who are curious about how the seller responded, well, there was no happy ending. The seller refunded less than half of the shipping cost and honestly, I just don’t care that he stiffed me for the rest of what he owed me. I have a peace in my heart that what I have done pleases God. And in the end, I am learning a bit more about what it means to love others the way I love myself.
Love or justice, the choice is up to you. Choose wisely, my friend.
Till next month,
All of the resources we have available as a ministry are available for free downloads through the downloads section of the website. There are copies of several messages Tim has shared at conferences and special meetings, along with three different full length CDs you can download for free. Help yourself! And if you know of anyone who would be blessed by the resources, feel free to share the link with them. Click here to go to the Downloads page.
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Come hear Timothy live at one of these upcoming events and mention you heard about it through the newsletter. For details, click here to view Current Schedule.
- November 18, 2012 – Venice, Florida
- February 20, 2013 – Lake Placid, Florida
- March 3-6, 2013 – Chillicothe, Texas
- April 14-17, 2013 – Jefferson, North Carolina
- April 28, 2013 – Marlette, Michigan
- April 29, 2013 – Three Rivers, Michigan
We are actively scheduling preaching and music ministry events for the next two years. God has blessed abundantly with multiplied opportunities for ministry. If you are interested in hosting Timothy for a conference, concert, or preaching ministry event, please let us know as soon as possible so we can accommodate you. It would be a privilege. As always, all of the ministry events are booked on a simple love offering basis. If the church or organization is able to help with travel expenses it is appreciated but never required. You can use the online booking request form through the link below. Or simply call 941-445-3288 or email today at email@example.com.