Tag Archives: love your enemies

He’s Got His Reasons (Jeremiah 10-14)

Jeremiah was fed up. He was following God, warning the Jews about consequences for sin, doing what God asked him to do to show the Jews they needed to repent, but they ignored him. Instead of repentance, sin ran rampant, and Jeremiah had had enough.

“Drop them off like sheep to be butchered,” he prayed. “Set them apart for the day of slaughter. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.” (12:3; 10:25)

I mean, he’s got a point. People who reject God, those who flaunt their sinfulness and persecute we who follow Jesus ought to be wiped out, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Right? “Get ’em, God! They deserve it.”

I’m reminded of James and John who wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had disrespected Jesus. Jesus’ answer? “Move on, boys. Let’s leave these folks alone.”

Really? Jesus let them get away with treating him so badly?

Yes.

Yes He did.

And here’s why: After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Apostle Philip went to Samaria and shared the Gospel. Many Samaritans were saved as a result. Most likely some of those James and John had wanted to incinerate came to know Jesus as their Messiah!

I guess the lesson here is, let’s go about our day doing what Jesus told us to do. Let’s love our neighbors, do good to those who mistreat us, pray for our enemies. Let’s go and make disciples, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Then let’s let judgment up to God. He’s got His reasons.

 

January 22; Live At Peace

Have you ever seen someone’s response to something, or read something in the Bible and thought, “Boy, if that had been me I’d have…?” That’s kind of how I felt as I read about Isaac and the wells he dug.

First of all, I am reminded that Isaac wasn’t there by choice. There was a famine, and the king told him to get out of Dodge. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So Isaac packs up and leaves. Just like that.

It’s got to be hard moving all those people and animals and everything you own. They’d been traveling for a while. They needed water. They dug a well.

But the neighbors declared their rights to the water. So Isaac packed everyone up again and moved to another location, dug another well, and had to face the protesters once again. “We’ve got our rights! This is our water.”

So Isaac moves AGAIN! Come on, Isaac, grow a backbone.

Why didn’t Isaac stand up for his rights? Why did he let the king and the people push him around? He had the Big Guns on his side, didn’t he? God was on his side, for crying out loud.

As I was thinking about this this morning I was reminded of Romans 12:17-19. Listen to what God has to say to us through his servant Paul:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it  is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Absolutely there is a time to stand up for what is right. There are plenty of examples in Scripture of God’s people fighting the enemy. Jesus Himself wasn’t afraid to get in the face of someone who was sinning, to overturn tables when necessary.

The Church may be taking this idea of living at peace with everyone too far. But there is also a danger of turning everything into a battle. If God tells us to live at peace with everyone you can, then do it!

That means living at peace with abortion doctors, homosexuals, adulterers, and liars. Do you think you are likely to win someone to the Lord by hating them, or by fighting them, or by waving your Bible in their faces while shouting John 3:16?

Living at peace means feeding hungry people, giving water to thirsty people. (Romans 12:20) It means offering the Bread of Life and the Living Water to people who are dying in their sin.

I don’t believe Scripture is telling us that to live in peace in this world requires getting pushed around or mistreated, as much as it tells us to love the people who are pushing us around and mistreating us.

Can we stand for the Truth in love? Can we?

January 11; Combating Lies

When Job wasn’t buying the advice his friends were giving, Eliphaz resorted to lies. Maybe he and his friends were hoping Job would confess to some great sin because, if Job was really not guilty and all this bad stuff was happening to him anyway, couldn’t the same thing happen to them?

Come on, Job Confess to something. Anything, to make me feel better.

Job’s response to Eliphaz’s lies spoke to me today.

He didn’t.

In the face of the blatant, defaming, attack on his character, the boldfaced lies being said about him, Job kept his focus on God. He acts as if Eliphaz hadn’t said any of those things.

I’m so tired of the war-of-words that is happening in our world. Not just that between our president and the media, or between our political parties, but with all of us with such fragile egos, and an overwhelming sense of entitlement. We’re almost to the point where you can’t have an opinion that’s different than someone else’s without hurting their feelings and causing a big controversy played out on social media.

Let’s be a little more like Job. In the middle of living the most devastating circumstances known to man, then having lies being said on top of it, he looked to God.

Christian, let’s do the same. Let’s set aside our egos, let’s put into perspective the opinions  people have about God and His Word, and hold on to God and His Word. Let’s answer the lies being said about us with the same response Job gave. Talk instead about our hope and confidence in the Lord rather than trying to offer empty words no-one hears anyway, and which usually only gives them ammunition for a counter-attack.

Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, worship God for who He is. Let’s love and pray for our enemies, and do good to those who mistreat us. Let’s be the Church God intends for us to be to share the Good News with a world that so desperately needs Him.

I Samuel 19; It Takes Two To Tango

Saul had one goal in life, and it totally consumed him. He wanted David dead more than anything. David, on the other hand, had nothing against Saul. If David had his way, the two would be friends.

Throughout their story we will see Saul do many means things to David. But we won’t see David return evil for evil.

I would say that during the 23 years I was a middle school counselor, the majority of my time was spent dealing with adolescent friendships. More than anything academic, relationships were far and away the number one thing on the minds of those children. Most of the time a child’s instinct was to strike back at someone who they felt wronged them.

“She started it.”

“He hit me first.”

“She said something about my mom.”

“He was talking about me.

And somehow, in their minds those things seemed to justify their own bad behavior. I would often quote Romans 12:21 to them:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Most of the time they’d look at me like I had grown antlers or something.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who are mean to us. (Matt 5:44) Easier said than done, because I don’t think revenge is a concept exclusive to adolescents.

Have you heard the phrase, “It takes two to tango”? It takes two of you to have a battle. If one of you refuse to fight back, it isn’t a fight.

Saul heard that David was in Naioth. So the king sent some of his men to go get David. But when Saul’s men got there, they walked into a church service instead of a battle. They joined the church service.

So Saul sent another band of thugs to capture David. And when these men observed David and the people praising God, they praised God, too

This must have been quite the church service because Saul sent a third group of men to do the deed. The third group of men? They dropped their weapons and raised their hands in worship, too.

“Ok. Enough of this,” Saul must have thought. “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.” So with every intention of taking care of David himself, he marched into Naioth, probably spitting nails.

Something happened to Saul, though, when he saw the Spirit of God moving among the people. At least for the time being, he forgot his mission of evil, and began prophesying too, by the Holy Spirit.

Saul had expected to go to battle with David. David refused to go to battle with Saul. And at least for the moment, good did overcome evil, and David’s life was spared.

Matthew Henry said David was delivered, not as he’d delivered his lambs by killing lions, but by turning lions into lambs.

I like that idea.

Do you want to get rid of an enemy? Start by being nice to him or her. You might even turn them into a friend.  It’s not impossible.

It’s Scriptural.

 

Genesis 4 – The Mark Of Cain

You probably already know Cain killed his brother Able out of jealousy. You might know God gave Cain a personal invitation to repent. Cain didn’t repent.

God cursed Cain and told him he was going to have a difficult life ahead of him. Cain’s response?

“Ok. I get it. I’m being driven out from Your Presence, God. I’ll be a restless wanderer for the rest of my life. But, God, people are going to be mean to me. That’s just not fair.” (Not an exact quote 😉 )

Oh, Cain. Couldn’t you find it in your heart to admit you sinned, and ask God to forgive you? You’re so worried about what other people think about you, or how they will treat you. What about what God thinks?

So God put a mark on Cain, identifying him as the killer of Able. But that mark wasn’t a bullseye. In fact, it was the opposite. It was a mark that said, “Leave him alone.” No one would avenge Able’s death by killing Cain with that mark staring them in the face.

Even then Cain didn’t humble himself before God. He went on his merry way, started a family, and built a city.

Now THAT’S not fair, you might think.

I believe the lesson here is: that’s none of your business. How God deals with others is not up to you. Wanting revenge, wishing a building would fall on a person, is a sin that will drive you out of God’s Presence, too.

If you are harboring ill-feelings toward someone who has done you wrong, picture the mark of Cain on their forehead. Leave them alone. Let God handle things the way He sees best. It might not happen the way you think it should. What goes around doesn’t always come around in God’s kingdom. (Thankfully) But God knows what He’s doing.

Cain had ample opportunity to repent, to confess his sin and ask God to forgive him. He never did as far as we know. He may have spent the rest of his life restless and guilt ridden, depressed or angry. And if he never repented, his eternity is much worse.

Don’t make the same mistake. The Bible tells us to pray for those who misuse us, to love our enemies. Let God be God. You take care of that plank in your own eye. And trust God to do all things well.

April 4 -Revenge

Judges 13-15

Samson is an interesting character. From the moment he was conceived his mother didn’t drink alcohol. His parents raised him to be set apart for God’s work. Samson acted differently, and looked different from everybody else.

God used Samson in amazing ways. He killed a lion with his bare hands, a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. Yet he had terrible taste in women, seemed to have no common sense, and made revenge a driving force in his life.

When the men of Judah came to him and asked him why on earth he would burn the Philistine crops, Samson answered like a two year old. “They started it.”

Is revenge a right? When someone wrongs you, are you entitled to payback? Doesn’t the Bible say something about an eye for an eye?

I used to tell kids in my school that revenge is like a game of tennis. Someone serves the ball into your court by being mean to you, so you hit the ball back to them by doing something back at them. Does the game of tennis stop after both players hit the ball just once?

Well, it might when I’m playing. But that’s not the point.

When the ball is hit into the player’s court, he or she does everything possible to hit it back into the opponent’s court. The game stops only when someone quits hitting the ball.

Does getting revenge ever solve the problem? Does it ever even the score? Or does it make the problem grow? Read these chapters in Judges and see how living for revenge worked for Samson.

What does Jesus say? Love your enemies. Do good to those who harm you. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good.

I wonder how Samson’s story would have ended if he had learned that lesson.

I wonder how your story will end.