Righting the Wrong

Proverbs 20:22, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.”

“I’ll get you!”

“Just wait until you hear from my lawyer!”

“You better watch your back!”

“You have been added to my ‘pay back’ list.”

Ever said those words? Ever thought them? We probably all have at some point in our lives. No one is exempt from the injustices of life. From the school yard bully to the corporate pirate, our lives are exposed to people who treat us unfairly. The question is, how do we handle those who harm us? And really, why is it so wrong to seek revenge?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39.

There are several reasons taking justice into our own hands is wrong in Scriptures:

1) We spend a great deal of time focusing on the wrong instead of focusing on good. Bitterness eats at our insides like a festering boil. It affects the way we deal with our family, friends, co-workers, pets and even God. The wrong becomes an obsession and ‘getting even’ takes away the joy God wants us to have in our lives.

2) It is of little use. Realistically, it is an impossibility to execute justice without sinning ourselves. How can we truly pay back a wrong doing without doing a wrong ourselves? Does one sin balance out another? God makes it very clear that it is not our responsibility to avenge but His. Romans 12:19 reads, “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.”

3) It shows disrespect to God. When we take matters into our own hands, aren’t we lacking faith in God’s ability to handle it? Do you realize that God is so insistent upon us forgiving others that He tells us, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” – Matthew 6:15? If you want God to forgive you, you have to forgive those who wrong you. Those words are a bit hard to swallow. By exercising judgement on those who wrong us, are we essentially setting ourselves up for God’s judgment upon us?

4) It prevents weight loss. Unforgiveness is like 20 pound, 30 pound, and 50 pound weights on our ankles and arms. We come to a point where we cannot move freely. The constant desire for revenge makes the anchor heavier and heavier as we drag it around. Our steps become fewer, and we simply cannot go forward. But when we turn it over to God, the ropes are cut and our feet become like wings.

Know that your God will act on your behalf to right the wrong in His time. Today, turn over your ‘pay back’ list to God and lovingly move on to what God has in store for your life.


Acquitted or Condemned

Matthew 12:35-37, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

In this scripture, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees; even though they can quote scriptures, their hearts are not good. God is more interested in our core being, our inner self, and our hearts than in our memorizing scriptures. In these verses, Jesus is pointing out the importance of our words. Words matter to God. Words are significant to Him because words reveal our heart. There are other scriptures which point out the importance of what we speak.

Ephesians 5:3-4, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

NEVER underestimate the power of words. Words can cause you to ruin your marriage; separate you from your children; lose your job; break up your friendship; and cost you your reputation. Winston Churchill said of words, “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”

Your words can also be a source of good. They can encourage someone who needs to hear a kind word. Words can offer hope, strength, compassion, and love. Words can change a person’s life and impact God’s Kingdom.

How do you use your words? Consider carefully what you say because Christ tells us we will be judged by the words.


When Necessary Use Your Words

Acts 6:7, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Many of us operate under the assumption that in order to change the world we have to do great and mighty things. The truth of the matter is: a simple act of kindness in the name of Jesus; a loving gesture displaying Christianity; an understanding word to honor Him can start a rippling effect.

How we interact on a daily basis influences others. Have you ever had your day interrupted by someone’s rudeness? Maybe you were grabbing breakfast on your way to work and the person in the car in front of you bought your meal. Or you are dropping your children off at school and someone holds the door for you. Maybe you are running 10,000 errands in a small amount of time and someone offers to help you. The way it makes me feel in turn causes me to respond to others in similar fashion. And the rippling begins…

Words and actions cross our paths every second of every day. Did you ever stop and think how your words and actions are impacting others?

I once read a church billboard which said, “Always testify to the goodness of Jesus Christ and when necessary use your words.”

Sometimes I see someone acting out in a loving way to another person and I think, “I know that makes God smile!” Other times I see someone acting in an ungodly way and I think, “I bet God is wishing he or she would just sit down and hush.”

As Christians we have a higher calling – to spread the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ – with our words and our actions. When we do so, the ripples start and make such a difference in the lives of others. Try it! You never know how God may use it to benefit His Kingdom.


Be Still

Psalm 37:7, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Romans 8: 16-17, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Be still in His presence for you are a special possession of God’s. Make your mind like a still pool of water, waiting to hear from Him. Allow Him to interject His thoughts into yours. A crowded mind is too full to hear from our Father.

As you face today, know that God has already seen every detail of your day; He knows the struggles you will face; He knows the pressure you will be under; He knows the heart aches, the challenges, the obstacles, and even the joys. Because you are chosen to be His, He will take care of it – if you allow Him to do so. You are His heir – a co-heir with Christ.

Do not wear yourself down with worry, regret, fear, and anxiety. Can you cope under the pressure of the day? NO! Not by yourself. That’s why you desperately need God. With Him, not only can you cope under the pressure of the day, you will overcome the pressures of the day. See, God is on the winning team. If you are on God’s team, you are a winner.

Communicate with Him. Give Him control of your day. Remember, God isn’t in a hurry. He has always been here, and He will always be here. He is outside of time. Sometimes I think the more I push Him for an answer, the longer it takes to get one. He wants me to wait on Him and be still so that I hear what He needs me to do. When we get in a hurry; when we are overwhelmed with worry; we cannot hear God’s answers for us.

Take the time today to be still; to be available; to know you are His special possession and He has called you into His wonderful light.

 


Where is God Taking You?

The Bible compares our Christian walk to a race – it is a race of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love to run. I used to run a whole lot faster than I do now. Back in the day, my heart and lungs worked in a rhythm which was almost lulling. Now, every joint aches and my body protests every step. Some of you know what I’m talking about!

One of my favorite work-outs was wind sprints – even though I would’ve never admitted it to my coach or teammates. Who loves those? Wind sprints are speed endurance agility drills. Plain and simple, players line up, whistle blows, you run as fast as you can to the 10 yard line, then the 20 yard line, the 30 yard line and so on. It was all about enduring, pushing through the pain, increasing power, and persevering. I was always thankful for wind sprints on Friday night, 4th quarter, when running up and down that field wasn’t what I wanted to do – especially if we were losing.

Sometimes in life we are called to run wind sprints and sometimes marathons. The key to being a good runner is eyes forward, not looking back. It’s easier said than done, when trouble is breathing down our necks and the very footsteps of what we fear is at our heels. But the race is won keeping our eyes focused ahead on Jesus Christ – not looking back at our past – not fearing what is behind us – not holding on to where we’ve already run – but moving forward to where God is taking us.

Isaiah 40:31, “…but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

So let us run the good race God has put before us, focused fully on Him.


Find Peace With Your Enemies

Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The Hebrew word for fool in this context, and in other places in the Old Testament, is a word which means morally defiant. The fool Solomon describes here is very much like a snake, deaf and unable to charm. Until the fool is willing to know God, he despises Godly instruction.

According to the psalmist in Psalm 58, unredeemed people are seen as wicked in the eyes of God, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer however skillful the enchanter may be.”

Some of the psalmist’s words are hard to understand. The important part to remember is, when David wrote these words, he is asking God to punish the wicked; he is not asking God to allow him to punish them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, anti-Nazi, and one of the greatest martyrs for Jesus Christ wrote a small book called Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Bonhoeffer lived his life according to the richness of the Book of Psalm. He understood from his prison cell in Nazi Germany what it was like to be tormented by the wicked. He felt the depth of evil, as David is describing in Psalm 58. He knew well of the existence of the ungodly.

Many times in the Book of Psalm, the authors cry out to God to punish the wicked; to declare judgment upon them: “The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” The words are very sombering when we consider our God to be of love and light. David meant here simply the wicked will die and the righteous will not.

So what do we do with Psalm 58 and others like it? First, the important words to remember are, David was asking God to handle those who harmed him. It is no different from what we pray when we turn people over to God; those who sin against us or are cruel to us; those we believe are unjust and unfair. We lay them at the foot of the cross; we place them in the hands of God. It is not for us to handle but for God to handle in His time.

Secondly, we were all wicked before the redemption of Christ; before we were reborn in Him. Whether we want to accept such a thought or not, until we drenched the blood covering protection of Jesus Christ over us, we were/are considered lost among the wicked. That is why the battle for souls is so important to God and so important to Satan. Every soul counts.

Because Jesus was human on earth, He understands what it feels like to be treated cruelly and unjustly at the hands of mean and hateful people. The Psalms are the prayers and cries of human beings to God; humans in desperate situations; humans who believe in a God who protects and defends them against evil.

Bonhoeffer writes, “It is the incarnate Son of God, who has borne every human weakness in his own flesh, who here pours out the heart of all humanity before God, and who stands in our place and prays for us.” Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, page 20-21.

Most of us will not experience the depth of evilness as David, Bonhoeffer, and many others tortured for their beliefs; but, some of us understand what it is like to face unfairness, hatefulness, and cruelty. Some of us know the deep emotions of betrayal and heartache at the hands of another. As David, we must turn those feelings over to God to handle. Only He can punish fairly. He is the only just Judge.

Today, as you pray, ask God to help you find peace with your enemies. Put them in the hands of God. Let Him deal with them. Remember who stands in your place and prays for you.


The Spirit God Gave Us

2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What makes you afraid? What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night? Over the years, I’ve heard many answers to those questions and I’ve answered them myself in various ways. Fear is a very real emotion and one that God is very much aware exists in our hearts.

Maybe you fear getting old; having an empty nest; getting sick; losing your job; not being accepted by others. Maybe you fear public speaking; flying on airplanes; being in crowds; losing your home; losing your money. Whatever it is, God has the answer.

Psalm 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 91:4-8, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

Isaiah 44:8, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Pick any one of these verses and commit them to memory. When you are afraid, speak it aloud and claim it in your heart. Pray today about your fears and ask God to help you fight the fears within you. Seek the Word. God has a great deal to say about our fears.

Psalm 34:4, “I sought (prayed to) the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

Isaiah 35:4, “say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution; He will come to save you.'”

I love these scriptures because I know I serve a God who cares about me and wants to protect me. What I have to do, is trust He will do what He says He will do.