In a small town lived a young Christian woman named Erin who whole-heartedly followed the Bible's commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18, WEB) Whenever her neighbors were in trouble, they could always count on her for support, be it emotional, spiritual, or material. One day, her next-door neighbor and long-time friend Bob asked to borrow some money from her for an emergency. Remembering Jesus' words, "Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you," she un hesitantly wrote out a check for the needed amount. (Matthew 5:42)

Some months later, Bob knocked on her door and requested to borrow more money even though he still had not returned the amount he borrowed previously. After he explained that it was a family medical emergency, Erin wrote out another check to him. A few months later, he came over with the same request, saying simply, "I need more money."

Erin realized that Bob was starting to take advantage of her. What should she do?

If we were in her situation, what would be the right thing to do according to God's moral principles?

The Bible exhorts us to love everyone without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9). Our love should be the love that has been shown to us by Jesus, who laid down his own life for us (John 13:34). This kind of love is called "agape" in Greek. Such love "is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

So does this mean that we should allow others to take advantage of us? Quite on the contrary, we should not. Since such true love seeks only the good of others and "doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness," we need to disallow others to take advantage of us when we know about it. You see, taking advantage of anyone is a sin, rebellion against God's law. Those who take advantage of others in any way will be judged by God. Therefore, if we knowingly allow others to take advantage of us, we would let others think that taking advantage of others was acceptable in God's sight, and that would put them under God's wrath. Instead, we should rebuke them and not bear sin because of them. (Leviticus 19:17)

And that's exactly what Erin did, knowing that it was for Bob's own good. But she didn't leave Bob without any assistance--she offered to help him find a better job so he could support himself rather than depending on others. However, he didn't appreciate her good will. With vengeance, Bob began spreading malicious lies about Erin, and the rumors traveled throughout the small town like wildfire, reaching the ears of Erin's boyfriend, who chose to believe in the lies and consequently left her.

Heartbroken, Erin sought comfort in the Bible, which says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) She thought to herself, "Yahweh is on my side. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6) She knew that she was innocent before God, and that was all that matters. We must know, too, that even if people falsely accuse and misjudge us, Yahweh God is the One who will vindicate us before all someday. (Romans 8:33; Malachi 3:16-18) Through Jesus Christ, God will judge everyone according to the works each person has ever done, good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10) He will be our Vindicator, as He said, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay." (Romans 12:19) When God justifies us, no one has the right to condemn us. Thus, we are not to take revenge ourselves under any circumstances or repay evil for evil. (Romans 12:17)

As Erin was reading the Gospel of Luke, a few knocks sounded on her door. She went over to the door and opened it, and there standing was Bob. "Please forgive me for the wrong I've done you," was the first thing he said. "I'm sorry for what I've done to you."

Upon seeing him, Erin felt anger boiling inside her. Then she remembered what Jesus said: "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in the day, and seven times returns, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4) She also remembered the times that she had done others wrong, and how she had sought for others' forgiveness afterward. So she smiled and said, "I forgive you." She walked to him and hugged him. He returned her hug. Reaching into his pocket, he took out the money he had borrowed from her. They chatted like old friends again, and in the middle of their conversation, Erin said, "A friend of mine is currently employing people for his company..."

So what can we learn from Erin's story? Well, let's summarize and clarify:

1) We are to treat our neighbor with agape love. The Bible admonishes us to seek our neighbor's good. (1 Corinthians 10:24) Our "neighbor" is anyone whom we come into contact with, not restricted to those who live next door, as illustrated by Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.

2) We are not to knowingly allow others to take advantage of us. This is not to protect our personal rights; instead, this is for other people's own good. When we disallow people to take advantage of us, we are preventing them from coming under God's wrath and condemnation.

3) We must never take revenge when others do us wrong. Rather, we must leave retribution to God, who will repay everyone according to their works. Only God knows a person's heart and motives; therefore, only He can administer justice accurately and completely. However, leaving retribution in the hands of God doesn't excuse us from administering justice. For example, if we know of someone harming others, we must speak up about it and bring the perpetrator to court for a fair trial and have the just sentence executed. We must never remain silent of a crime we know about or give false testimonies. (Exodus 23:1-3)

4) When others sin against us or our loved ones, instead of taking revenge, we must rebuke them. Correcting others is to be done in their best interest. This permits others to understand what they did was wrong and change their behavior so they won't repeat the same wrong acts in the future.

5) When those who have done us wrong repent and ask for our forgiveness, we must grant it. Forgiving someone does not mean that we condone the wrong they have done to us; it simply allows us to show the kind of mercy God has shown us when we repent. Forgiveness also permits both parties--the wronged and the wrongdoer--to move on and improve. Now, there are those who do not truly repent; instead, they repeat the cycle of doing wrong and begging for forgiveness. In such cases, additional actions may need to be taken. For example, if a husband repeatedly abuses his wife then seeks forgiveness, the wife may need to seek new living arrangements to protect herself and her children from further abuse. If her husband truly repents afterward, the family can then reunite.

All these can be summed up in one commandment: "Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them." (Matthew 7:12) So, go and show your agape love!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Jehovah God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honor) graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet; author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to twenty-five, and an editor of one; and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University.

Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.