The Spite House

By Dave Henning / October 21, 2013

“Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent.  A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” -Hebrews 12: 15

Max Lucado begins Chapter 11 (“Revenge Feels Good, But Then . . .”) of You’ll Get Through This with the story of businessman Joseph Richardson, who lived in New York City in 1882.  He owned a narrow strip of land, 5 feet wide and 104 feet long, that fronted Lexington Avenue.  Another businessman, Hyman Sarner, owned a normal-sized property adjacent to Mr. Richardson’s property.  He intended to build apartments on that property and wanted to buy Mr. Richardson’s land, so that his apartment building windows would overlook the avenue.  He offered Mr. Richardson $1000 for his land.  Insulted, Mr. Richardson refused the offer.  After Mr. Sarner’s building was completed, Mr. Richardson built a house on his narrow strip.  Dubbed the “Spite House”, Mr. Richardson lived there the last 14 years of his life, his narrow house reflecting his narrow state of mind.

Pastor Lucado comments:
“Revenge builds a lonely house.  Space enough for one person.  The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: make someone miserable.  They do.  Themselves. . . . healing includes a move out of the house of spite, a shift away from the cramped world of grudge and toward spacious ways of grace, away from hardness and toward forgiveness.  He (God) moves us forward by healing our past.”

Today’s question (from Christine Anderson): Like Richardson, some people retaliate by striking out in hostile ways.  Others express their hostility by striking in.  Which approach best describes your tendency?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation- “Lonely, but not alone”

About the author

Dave Henning

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