When I’m the Bully
And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. Acts 7:24
One summer long ago, when I was maybe 12 or 13, I went to camp where I befriended a handicapped boy. I thought we had a grand week. Sure, I made a couple jokes at his expense, but he always laughed. I genuinely thought I’d done a good thing and I truly thought we were friends. Later, I found out through our parents, that this boy and his brother felt I’d bullied him all week. I was crushed. I was sensitive enough to understand that even though I thought I was being friendly and funny, if others thought I was being a bully, then I probably was. It was painful to realize how mistaken I was over the perspective others had of my behavior.
This is similar to Moses’ experience in today’s passage. In the story, Moses witnessed an Egyptian abusing an Israelite. In anger and in defense of another Israelite, Moses – an Israelite but also an Egyptian prince – struck down the perpetrator, hiding his body. Convinced he’d done a good thing, he further intervened the following day by inserting himself into a quarrel between two of his countrymen. Moses saw himself as the judge and savior of his people, but they didn’t see it that way. Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday (Acts 7:27-28)?
Moses thought he was the deliverer of his people. When he perceived his actions from their point of view though, he saw himself as a murderer, which wasn’t far from the truth.
We often have a misguided opinion of ourselves. Rarely are we the bad guy in our own story. We usually see ourselves as the victim or the hero, but rarely the perpetrator. If we’ve done wrong, we were justified. The challenge, when confronted with the reality of an objective perspective, is to be honest and humble enough to admit our flaws and shortcomings.
It may be terribly painful to admit fault, but the truth is, sometimes we’re just wrong. Sometimes we’re the bully. It does us no good to delude ourselves into thinking we’re always right and everyone else is always mistaken. That only perpetuates our delusion and allows us to continue stumbling ignorantly down the wrong path.