God On Film 2010 part 2
A-Team: Doing Right When You've Been Done Wrong
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 11, 2010
“In 1972, a crack
commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they
didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security
stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the
government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem,
if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…
If you were alive in the 80s, chances are you
remember those words as the opening for the classic TV show, “The
A-Team.” These four soldiers, wrongfully accused and imprisoned for a
crime they didn’t commit, escaped from custody and pursued a career of
helping people who needed their unique skill set.
There was John
“Hannibal” Smith, a master-planner as well as a master of disguise,
played by George Peppard. There was Templeton “Faceman” Peck, the
cavalier, suave and resourceful ladies’ man played by Dirk Benedict,
who I also remember fondly as Starbuck in the original Battlestar
Galactica. Then there was the Mohawk sporting B.A. (Bad Attitude)
Baracus, the most popular and iconic character in the series played by
Mr. T… tough on the outside but with a heart of gold (to go with all
his gold chains). And rounding out the four was Howling Mad Murdock,
clinically insane, but a top rank pilot played by Dwight Schultz, who
went on to Star Trek fame as Lt. Barclay.
That’s the classic TV
series that I watched as a teenager, and it has just recently been
released as a feature film with all new actors.
Why do I
mention The A-Team you ask? Because all through the month of July,
we’re taking a look at some of the blockbuster movies that are out this
summer. We started last week with Toy Story 3, next week will be the
new Twilight movie, and today we’re taking a look at The A-Team. How
many of you either watched the original TV show or have seen the new
You know, the remarkable thing about The A-Team…
especially in the TV series? It’s how these four people endured the
injustice of being falsely accused and imprisoned, but yet chose to do
the right thing. I mean, they could have been out for revenge, they
could have become angry and bitter and disillusioned, they could have
wallowed in self-pity… they could have done all of that. But instead,
they chose to respond by going around helping people.
you do when you’ve been done wrong? When someone mistreats you, how
should you treat them? When someone does evil to you, how should you
respond? When someone makes a mistake that costs you thousands of
dollars… when your employer fires you or give a coworker that promotion
you deserve… when your neighbour’s dog keeps you up all night every
night… when a friend gossips about you, betrays you, or stabs you in
the back… what do you do when you’ve been done wrong?
what we’re talking about this morning. And you don’t have to look very
far in the teachings of Christ, or the teachings of Paul, or the wisdom
of the Proverbs before you come across some passage which instructs you
in how to treat people who don’t treat you well. So here’s the question…
Do I Do Right When I’ve Been Done Wrong?
Watch what I say
know, one of the things about The A-Team – not the movie, but the old
TV show – is that no one ever got hurt. Guns a’blazin’, bombs and
grenades, huge explosions, driving through fences and walls… and nobody
ever got hurt! To the point that it became a joke. Here… take a look at
the opening sequence.
[VIDEO – Show portions of the opening credits for The A-Team (TV
it be great if life worked like that? You know… people fire at you, you
fire back, and no one ever gets hurt? But that’s not reality, is it?
Reality is, we get hurt and we get hurt a lot. And the truth is, hurt
people hurt people. And so when we get wounded, we want to strike back.
We want to do to them what they’ve done to us.
And perhaps the quickest and easiest way for us to try to get our
revenge is to strike back with our tongues. With our words.
and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.” What a
crock! Because words do hurt. Your tongue can be a deadly weapon.
Proverbs 13:3 (MSG)
Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin
watch what you say. If someone insults you or calls you a name or
slanders you in some way, don’t lash back at them. Control yourself.
Don’t respond the same way they’re treating you. Be above that. As
Jenna read for us earlier…
James 1:26 (NLT)
If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are
just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
James wrote that we should watch what we say. We should control our
tongue. But you know what? It’s easier said than done. In fact, James
acknowledges that a couple chapters later…
James 3:7-10 (NLT)
can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one
can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those
who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing
come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters,
this is not right!
I think we instinctively lash out at whoever
attacks us. If someone throws an insult at us, we throw one right on
back. If someone cuts us off in traffic, it can be a good thing they
can’t hear us. If someone cheats us out of some money, it doesn’t take
long before we’re telling everyone else what they’ve done to us. It’s
our basic human nature to want to lash out and try to hurt them they
way they’ve hurt us. And James say, “this is not right!”
that when I’ve been hurt, or when I feel like someone has done me
wrong, I have to fight the urge to gossip about them and tear them down
in my conversations. And when it becomes really hard is when what
they’ve said or done reflects on me and I feel like I need to defend
myself to other people. Even then, or especially then, I need to be
careful what I say.
But how do you overcome that instinct to
attack or that compulsion for revenge? I don’t think you can. Oh, I
think you can try… and you should try… to control your tongue and watch
what you say. That’s important, and you’ll have some success. But
you’ll still slip up a lot more than you want to admit. I don’t think
you can fully rise above it… until you allow God to transform your life.
talk about that a lot here at Sunrise… life transformation. But that’s
a core part of our message, isn’t it? How God wants to take you as you
are and transform you into the person you were meant to be. And so we
look at verses like…
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God
transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is
gone; a new life has begun!
the message we have… that God can transform us into brand new people
with a brand new life. I think that’s the message that the world needs
to hear. I think that’s the message each one of us needs to understand
and experience for ourselves. God can make us new.
That old self
that enslaved to sin… gone. That instinct to react violently with our
words or actions… gone. That self-absorbed self-centered yet
dissatisfying ambition in life… gone. Instead, we’re made new… we’re
set free from the grip of sin, we learn self-control and
self-discipline… we learn to love others fully and purely… we discover
new meaning and new purpose in life… given to us by God Himself and
fueled with compassion.
Understand, when you know Jesus, when
you begin to submit yourself to Him and to the work of the Holy Spirit
in your life, you will be transformed. And no, it’s not all going to be
completed instantly. God is going to take you through a process of
transformation. But more and more each day, your character will reflect
His character. You will become more Christ-like. Your old self will be
left in the past and you will become a brand new person. And as He
promises in His Word…
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain
that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work
until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
so if you want to do right when you’ve been done wrong, you need to
first of all watch what you say. You’ve got to control your tongue. And
ultimately what that comes down to is allowing God to transform you,
enabling to rein it in.
Be quick to forgive
An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind, right?
don’t know if this is really reflective of The A-Team or not, but I get
the sense that they were more interested in clearing their names than
they were in getting revenge. I don’t think that they were consumed
with getting even. They had been done wrong, but they were not
motivated by the prospect of settling the score.
century Russia was a nation in turmoil. But that was nothing new. The
nation had actually been going through a period of unrest for a couple
hundred years. But finally it seemed to be coming to a head. On the one
hand, there was the Russian nobility who resisted any change. On the
other, there were a growing number of radicals who wanted, well,
radical change. And stuck in the middle was Alexander II, the Tzar of
Throughout the period of His reign, Alexander did bring
about a number of reforms. But those reforms fell far short of what the
radicals were looking for, so they decided they would assassinate the
Tsar using terrorist means. We tend to think terrorism is a new thing,
but it’s been around for a long, long time.
So in April of 1879,
the first attempt was made. A man named Alexander Soloviev tried to
assassinate Alexander II, but failed. He was captured and was executed
along with 16 other men suspected of terrorism.
In November of
the same year, Andrei Zhelyabov and Sophia Perovskaya of the terrorist
organization going by the name of the “People’s Will” decided
give it a try. They decided to use nitroglycerine to blow up the Tsar’s
train. But they made a mistake, and blew up the wrong train.
attempt to kill the Tsar involved blowing up a bridge in St. Petersburg
as the Tsar was crossing it, but that too was unsuccessful.
4. It’s now February of 1880. This time, the People’s Will attempts to
kill the Tsar by blowing up his dining room while he was eating. So the
terrorists got some dynamite and constructed a mine, put it in the
basement under the dining room and set it to go off at 6:30 during
dinner. But the Tsar was expecting a guest that night who was running
late, so no one was in the dining room at the time.
terrorists decided to try again. March 1, 1881. Alexander was
travelling in a closed carriage on his way to the Winter Palace in St.
Petersburg and was guarded by a number of soldiers and police officers.
All along the way he was watched by members of the People’s Will. As
the carriage approached a street corner, a signal was given and two
terrorists threw bombs at the Tsar’s carriage. Of course, they missed
and the bombs landed among the soldiers. Alexander was fine, but… he
insisted on getting out to check on the injured men. And while he was
standing with them, another terrorist threw another bomb and this time
made contact. Alexander was killed instantly.
Which meant that
the throne was handed down to his son. Any guesses what Alexander II
named his son? Alexander III. Kind of reminds you of George Foreman,
doesn’t it? With all his kids named George?
Well, it was under
the rule of Alexander III that several of the terrorists were captured
and were sentenced to be hanged. And think about it: This was really a
strange situation. Alexander III was in a position to execute the
people who assassinated his father. Reminds me of Mandy Patinkin in The
“My name is Alexander. You killed my father. Prepared to die.”
before the execution was carried out, Alexander III received a letter
from Leo Tolstoy. You may recognize that name. Tolstoy was a Russian
philosopher and author who wrote several classics, including War and
Peace. In the letter, Tolstoy urged Alexander to have mercy on the men
and forgive them for what they did. He didn’t try to justify what they
had done, he simply pleaded for their lives. He wrote to the Tsar…
“…Your every step in the direction of forgiveness is a step towards
~ Leo Tolstoy
He urged him to…
“Return good for evil, resist not evil, forgive everyone.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
III chose to ignore Tolstoy’s advice and allowed the execution to
proceed. And the Russian society continued to be in turmoil over the
next three and a half decades as the Communist Regime came to power.
don’t know how things would have been different if Alexander had
pardoned the people who conspired to kill his father. It’s interesting
to think about it, though. Because forgiveness has a lot of power, and
turning the other cheek can turn a life around.
I think Tolstoy had it right when he said…
“…Forgiveness brings supreme joy to the one who practices it.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
If you want to do right when you’ve been done wrong, you need to
forgive. Take a look at what Jesus said…
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will
forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not
forgive your sins.”
None of us is without fault. We’ve all hurt
someone else, and we’ve all hurt God. We have all needed forgiveness at
some time or other. But from that verse we just read, if we expect to
be forgiven by God we’d better be willing to forgive the people who do
You can even find this in what we call “The Lord’s
Prayer.” If you know that prayer, then you’ll recognize this verse…
from the New Living Translation…
Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
“…And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against
Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
offers you His forgiveness for free. But He expects you to pass that
same kind of forgiveness on to others. If you’re going to do right when
you’ve been done wrong, you need to forgive.
Oh, and don’t
misunderstand me. I’m not saying that forgiving is easy. In fact, it
can be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. And for a time, you may
have to constantly remind yourself that you are forgiving them. It can
be a process, and it can be difficult. Forgiving is not the easy way
out. But it is the best way. If you’re going to do right when you’ve
been done wrong, you need to forgive.
Respond with kindness
Don’t plot your revenge. Don’t watch in eager anticipation for their
downfall. Instead, treat them well. Respond with kindness.
Look at this passage from Matthew 5…
Matthew 5:38-41 (NLT)
have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An
eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an
evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other
cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you,
give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a
mile, carry it two miles.”
From what I understand, in Roman
society a soldier could order a non-Roman to carry his gear for a
distance of one mile and the person had to do it. He didn’t have to go
one step further, but he would have to carry the gear for one full
mile. So what Jesus is saying is go that one mile without complaining
and then go ahead and carry their stuff beyond the requirement of the
law. In fact, this is where the phrase “going the extra mile” comes
Jesus went on to say…
Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)
have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that
way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For
he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain
on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you,
what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that
much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from
If God really makes a difference in your life,
it’s going to be evident in the way you treat the people who treat you
poorly. The people who treat you wrong. The people you might even
consider to be your enemies.
Because it’s easy to be nice to
the people who treat you well. And it’s easy to brag up your friends.
But if you’re able to show love and compassion and forgiveness and
generosity for even your greatest enemy, and if you can honestly and
sincerely wish them well, it’s a pretty God sign that God’s been
working in your life.
How you respond speaks to your character, not theirs. You understand
that? How you respond speaks to your character, not theirs.
what that means is, just because you’ve been treated wrong doesn’t mean
that you need to treat them wrong in return. You can rise above that.
Oh, you might be disappointed. You might need time to heal. And they
may need to earn your trust again.
But don’t hold on to grudges. Don’t seek vengeance. Don’t tear them
down in your conversations with them or with others.
be gracious. Be forgiving. Be better than that. Through the presence
and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can do it. You can
do right even when you’ve been done wrong.