Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 51; 148, Joshua 4:19-5:1, 10-15, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 26:17-25
Who are your enemies and what are you doing about it?
According to Saint Paul, you should be stepping up to meet their needs. In Romans 12 he says “bless those who persecute you” and “do not repay anyone evil for evil” and goes on to quote Proverbs: “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Paul tells us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In the middle of all this he says: “never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God.” Think about that for a moment: when we avenge ourselves on our enemies, we crowd out God.
Do we really live as if we believe, as Paul teaches, evil will be overcome by good? Not in the sense of the good guys outgunning, outlawyering, or outthinking the bad guys, but in the sense of good showing mercy to evil? Whether we are advocating for public policy, going about the business of the church, or conducting our personal lives, Christians can’t – with any integrity – cry for punishment of wrongdoing without equal enthusiasm for doing good to those who wrong us. We’re not talking about giving aid and comfort to enemy forces so they can destroy us, but leaving room for God to mete out any wrath on His own terms and timeline. Does that sound potentially dangerous? Well, Christ doesn’t command us to be safe; he commands us to love.
Do we fear our enemy’s repentance? Jonah (of “and the whale” fame) didn’t want to offer mercy to the people of Nineveh because they were his enemies and he was invested in hating them. He was miserable when they repented. Shouldn’t our Christian desire be that even our enemies find salvation? When our vengeance preempts the Lord’s wrath, it also preempts His mercy. Woe to anyone who has to own up to either of those.
Who are your enemies?
Are they next door? Overseas? Thirsty? Hungry?
And what are you doing about it?
Comfort: Foregoing revenge does not make you weak; it makes you faithful.
Challenge: In the news an social media, watch for examples of either/or, us/them thinking and talk with friends about how to overcome such thinking.
Prayer: Gracious and Merciful God, grant me the patience to put aside my ego and self-righteousness so I may do good to those who persecute me. Amen.
Discussion: What wrongdoing, personally or generally, do you have trouble forgiving?
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