Tag Archives: unfair treatment

I Chronicles 17-21; Our Worst Enemy

The Bible spends a lot of time talking about warfare. There are many examples of how to (and not to) fight our enemies. But what if I am my own worst enemy?

Hanun’s dad, King Nahash, died, and Hanun found himself king of the Ammonites. Nahash and David had formed a bond, so David sent a delegation to pay his respects to Hanun in the loss of his father.

How did Hanun receive this kindness? He humiliated David’s men in a most degrading fashion. When David heard what had happened, he didn’t retaliate. He could have taken revenge on Hanun on behalf of the humiliated men. But David’s concern was for the men themselves. Hanun wasn’t even worth acknowledging.

Sometimes ignoring someone who wants an enemy is the best way to handle them. The fact that David ignored Hanun made Hanun look bad. David took the high road and left Hanun alone in the gutter.

Now here’s where Hanun becomes his own worst enemy. He could have allowed David’s actions to convict him, drive him to his knees in repentance, and cause him to ask David and his men for forgiveness. We would be reading a completely different account had Hanun humbled himself.

But he didn’t. He responded to David’s lack of retaliation in anger. How dare he ignore me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him.

Hanun allowed his pride to take over, and rallied an army against the Jews. A lot of men died as a result. David’s army routed Hanun’s. It didn’t have to be that way.

Dear one, we don’t have to react every time we think someone is unfair to us. Walking away from a conflict isn’t weakness. In fact, very often it is the most daring course of action.

My heart breaks for my great-nieces and nephews as I realize they are growing up in a world of reactionaries. Self absorbed, ego driven, prideful behavior is honored in our society. You get your fifteen minutes of fame if you don’t walk away from a conflict, no matter how wrong you are. The high road, it seems, is for losers.

Sure there is a time to pick up a sword and go into battle. David did that in the chapters we read today. But when I hear God say we are to love our enemies, do good to those who misuse us, pray for those who are unfair to us, turn the other cheek, I don’t believe picking up a sword should be our first response to conflict.

If we allow our pride, or our sense of fairness, or our fragile egos dictate our reactions, we become our own worst enemies. Let’s determine to represent Jesus by living according to His example. Let’s face opposition according to Scripture. How many times do we read to stop, to listen, to just be still, before we read the battle is the Lord’s.

I’m ok with Satan being my worst enemy. I’m not okay with me taking over that role.

 

 

 

Numbers 15-16; Into The Midst

Many of the Israelites don’t seem to be very nice people. It didn’t take much for them to band together against Moses and Aaron in rebellion. Some of them even convinced themselves that the whole lot of them were holy, so who did Moses think he was, anyway? (This was after God pronounced judgment on them for their sin of disbelief. Not sure how holy they thought they were then.)

Even after God opened up the earth and swallowed the ring leaders, then sent fire to consume 250 rebels who were offering incense and dishonoring the priesthood, some of the Jews continued their vendetta against Moses and Aaron. I can’t believe their nerve.

THE NEXT DAY the whole Israelite community accused Moses and Aaron of killing the Lord’s people! Not sure how they thought Moses arranged an earthquake and a fireball from heaven without 2017 technology. But these people were actually saying Moses and Aaron were guilty of murder.

Once again, when faced with unfair treatment, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces. They went to God. They didn’t even try to defend themselves against the accusations.

God said, No worries. I’ll take care of these troublemakers. I’ll send a plague and kill them all!

What did Moses and Aaron do in response? They didn’t high five each other and stand back and watch their enemies suffer for being mean to them. They hurried to make atonement for the people.

They wanted God to forgive them! In fact, Aaron ran INTO THE MIDST of his accusers and stood in the gap between the living and the dead.

He saved their lives!

God is calling us to do the same. You might be mistreated for being a Christian. People around you might be talking about you, spreading rumors, accusing you. Your coworkers might be unfair. Some people in our world fear for their lives just because they follow Jesus.

How are we to respond? By standing in the gap. We have the Truth, the only means of salvation. We stand between someone’s eternal life and eternal death. Sure, they might want to be our enemy. But God loves them. And He just might want us to get in there and tell them that, to introduce them to the Savior.

Dear God, send me into the midst of those who would mistreat me. And may You find me faithfully standing in the gap, sharing your Gospel, leading people to the only One who can save, regardless of what they do to me. 

May 17 – Keeping the Course

2 Samuel 16-18

Shimei was not a fan. When King David’s son Absalom decided to steal the kingdom from his dad, Shimei followed Absalom. Out with the old, in with the new, he may have been thinking.

Maybe it was a little like our modern world. I mean, old people like the old hymns. Let’s be progressive and bring in the bands. Old people believe in hard work and earning what you have. Let’s let the government just give us what we want. Out with the old… I digress.

Or do I?

All of us with differing opinions can learn from David’s example. Shimei was throwing stones, calling David names, trying to get people riled up against David by following the king around and advocating for David’s enemy.

Now, if this were a presidential debate, David would pick up a few stones himself and hurl them at Shimei. He’d think of meaner names to call Shimei, maybe even have some choice words to say about Shimei’s wife. David would probably demand Shimei be removed from his presence, or killed for disrespecting him.

But instead, David said; “Let him be” and the king kept walking. Shimei kept hurling stones but David kept the course.

I’m afraid we’ve come to believe life is a reality TV show. We so often get caught up in the drama. The truth is, we don’t have to react every time someone “disrespects” us, or disagrees with us, taunts us, or even lies about us.

That’s not to say we lie down and play dead, either. David didn’t just hand the kingdom over to Absalom because Shimei was treating him badly. Jesus said we were to turn the other cheek. But Jesus also overturned the tables in the temple.

Christian, when people say we are hate-filled bigots, let’s not prove them right by our response. Let’s, like David, refuse to get into a war of words. Instead, let’s keep the course. Remember, our enemies are not homosexuals, abortionists, murderers, or liars. Our enemy is Satan.

Jesus died for sinners. Let’s not forget that. Satan would have us lose focus and fight insignificant battles. My prayer is that we will keep our eyes on Jesus, that we will honor Him with our reactions as well as our actions.

And I pray that, as we keep the course, people will be drawn to the Savior.

 

News Flash: Life Isn’t Fair

It wasn’t fair. Paul and Silas had been severely beaten and thrown into prison and they had done nothing wrong. Now I know people say there are no “guilty” people in prison. But in this case, Paul and Silas were truly not guilty of any crime. (Acts 16)

How did they handle that? By praising God and singing until midnight. The other prisoners listened to them. And when the angel came and set them free, they stayed right there. Their example led the jailor and his whole family to the Lord.

Things happen in this life that just don’t seem fair. Cancer isn’t fair. An unfaithful spouse isn’t fair. It’s not fair when there’s no money to pay the bills, or the car breaks down, or someone lies about you. But trust me when I say people are watching how you handle it when things happen to you that aren’t fair. They wonder if you go through trials and hardships any differently than they do.

So do you complain, or praise God? Do you express anger with vulgarity, or do you sing about God’s Amazing Grace? Are you pushing people away from, or inviting them into their Savior’s embrace?

Life isn’t fair. How you handle it, however, could make the difference in someone’s life eternally.

Dear God, I don’t pretend to know what those who read this blog are going through. I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes but mine. But I pray for all of us, Lord, as we live through yet another day. Some of us are facing life threatening challenges. Some hearts are broken. Some of us don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Remind us, Father, that you are there in the midst, that you want to be our strength, our hope and joy. As we face these difficulties, I pray that you will be evident in our lives. And may our example, like Paul and Silas, draw someone to your saving grace. Hear our prayers. Accept our praise. And may Jesus be glorified in us today no matter how unfair our lives seem at the moment.

They Hated Me Without a Cause

I am Facebook friends with a former student, a young man who loves the Lord. Very often he will post something about his struggles or his victories as he maneuvers his way through this life. This morning he posted something about wanting to live his life with so much faith that the world would have nothing against him.

At first, I wondered about that statement. Then, as God would have it, I opened my study Bible and it directed me to John 15 where Jesus is talking to his disciples right before his crucifixion. He tells his disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own… They hated Me without a cause.”

I was reminded that, in order to condemn Jesus, they had to make things up. They had to lie about him so that they could get rid of him. Then I understood what my young FB friend was saying. He wants to live his life in such a way that if someone wanted to accuse him, they would have to lie.

Isn’t that the life we are all called to live? “Be holy as I am holy.” John continues to report that Jesus, after warning his disciples about how the world would view them, promised them the Holy Spirit to help them bear witness of Jesus. God knows his children will face difficulties because we love and serve him, and he promises to be exactly what we need to face them.

Dear one, don’t lose heart. Expect the world to be uncomfortable around you, because Jesus in you is going to make them uncomfortable in their sin. We can expect the world to hate us because they hated Jesus, too. Let the Holy Spirit do his work in their lives as you are obedient to Him, remembering that it’s God’s passionate desire for those people to come to him.

I’m praying for you. May the choices you make today reflect your relationship with the Savior. And may an unsaved friend or loved one be very uncomfortable in your presence because of their sin, and because Jesus is in you. Most of the time you won’t have to say a thing. John 15:26 promises that “He (the Holy Spirit) will testify about me (Jesus).”

Have you ever heard it said that you may be the only Jesus some will ever see? Or that you may be the only Bible some will ever read? I pray that those who see my life are getting the right message, seeing the right example of a woman saved by grace through the precious blood of Jesus. May it be true in us all.

Change Me

I was reading what David said his enemies were saying about him and wondered if he wasn’t exaggerating just a little. (Psalm 109) I know he had enemies but were they really saying things like: I hope his creditors siege his entire estate, I hope no one will be kind to him, I hope all his kids die, I hope his mother’s sins are never erased from the record.

Maybe.  Or are we witnessing a self-absorbed pity party? I know I’ve said things, stretched the truth to make it appear my troubles are a bit worse than they really are in order to gain support from someone. Is that what David’s doing? I don’t know. But I like what he says in verse 21:

Deal with me, Lord, for the sake of your reputation.

When I am telling my woes to someone, even God, I often do so hoping to get them on my side, to avenge the wrong done to me. I want them to be as mad at my enemy as I am. But David says, what is it about ME that needs changed? Because, God, I represent you and if people are saying these awful things about me I don’t want it to reflect on you. I don’t want to be a snare that stops someone from finding you.

So deal with me, Lord. Change me. Show me how to love my enemies so they’ll learn to love you.

November 13

Acts 5:17-7:53

When God was on the fast track to establish his Church some pretty amazing things occurred. When the Holy Spirit came he came in flames! Ordinary people suddenly were able to speak languages they had never studied and preached the Gospel so that foreigners could understand. People were healed if they walked over Peter’s shadow. And many people found Christ because of it.

Peter and John found themselves in prison for preaching about Jesus. But God wasn’t about to let their voices be silenced. So he picked them up right out of that cell and transplanted them in the middle of town. What must that have been like for the apostles? Better than any Disney ride, I’m sure!

With all this going on, Satan was frantically trying to stop it. He influenced many people who wanted Peter and John dead. He even convinced them they were doing what God wanted by putting an end to this Jesus movement. So they thought they’d teach Peter and John a lesson, scare them into stopping their ministry. They bound the apostles and flogged them. They beat them, tearing into their flesh, causing painful cuts. And you know how the apostles responded? Read Acts 5:41-42. They rejoiced because God had found them worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. And they continued to preach the Gospel every day.

Nobody likes to suffer. We get angry if we are treated unfairly, pout if our feelings are hurt, and want to get even with those who wrong us. Just yesterday a young friend of mine was in a car accident. He was driving home from college when someone ran a stop sign and plowed into the side of my friend’s car. And to make matters worse, the person who hit him fled the scene. My friend was stunned. He was shaken and angry. Why me, he asked? He was following the rules and where did that get him? Bad things always happen to me, he cried.

His older sister said something that fits into what we read today here in Acts. She lovingly told him, “It happened because you are a CHOSEN ONE.” She went on to tell him that trials are a test of our faith and a chance to show Christ to others. And I think that’s what Peter and John would say to him, too. As followers of Christ we have a target on our backs. Satan wants to stop us at all costs. But God can turn any situation around and use it to glorify himself through us. 

Are you going through a storm? Are you being treated unfairly because you are a Christian? Rejoice! You are a chosen one to reveal Christ to someone who needs him. God trusts you with this trial. And he is able to see you through to the very end.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my young friend. Continue to work in his life, strengthen his relationship with you, and help him to be a testimony of what a Godly man looks like when faced with hardship. Draw someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus through this situation. And I pray for all of us who are facing Satan’s attacks. May we represent you well. May we trust you with it all. And may we rejoice for the opportunity to suffer for the name of our dear Savior.