“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them. ’”
Ezekiel 25:15-17 –
“Malice in their hearts”
“Sought to destroy”
These are all tale tale indicators that can help us identify what is in our hearts as individuals. When “Malice” or ill will is there, or it is derived from “Ancient hostility” and the desire is to “destroy” we know that this does not please the Lord. Ancient hostility as it relates to 21st century reader of this text could be like some historical baggage we all have carried before or maybe still wrestle to overcome. For instance many may struggle with a strong dislike to a particular class, sex or people group not because everyone in these collections of people truly harmed them but because they have for predominantly all their lives as early as childhood suffered emotional wounds they in the present associate with that “People” or “That race” or “That gender”
And for me my ancient hostility used to be women because I associated them with rejection growing up and had formed a very unfair stereotype about attractive looking women as being always arrogant, stuck up, conceited and desiring to use their looks to wield power over ever men who would look their direction. However, over time the Lord has by His work helped me overcome so much of my struggles. Another people group I had grown to think were just so very difficult for me was non Christians because of some incidents that took place where one in particular who I truly was doing my best to be a friend to called me up drunk on the phone and started slandering me and calling me an idiot and accusing me of things I was not attempting to do. Yet at the time it cut deep into me because I really thought I had been making the best effort I was able to show my care for this person but it shocked me. At first I thought it was a joke but then I realized some how his inebriation took away his restraint and revealed how he truly saw me.
Of course part of why this was so personal was he attacked me at a point of insecurity at the time, my intelligence. And being someone who had grown up in a special education system do to minor intellectual disabilities I took it far more personally then I should have.
The point is, people have issues and for many non Christians they may harbor ancient hostility toward all Christians because of the few who may have early on left a bad taste in their mouths. There are many who have grown up in supposedly Christian circles [And of course some of these are not too reflective of Biblical Christ centered life, some others are making an effort but fail as we all do as human beings, other may have good intentions yet be misunderstood.] there are collectively issues with everyone even those making an effort to follow Christ’s example laid out in what He taught. And then there are yes those who have fairly lived up to the hypocrite label.
Another example is people who grow up in a certain socio economic upbringing- they may have a slant of not liking or unfairly judging those who have had a different life experience. Some people who have had great challenges growing poor up may automatically struggle to think all people who have wealth are bad, greedy and terrible- and in contrast those who may have it monetarily well off may unfairly judge all poor and underprivleged people as being lazy and addicts of drugs.
Bad apples spoil a bunch- there are bad people rich, poor, male, female, black or white – the truest decider of this though has nothing to do with outward circumstance (Though both suffering and prosperity and power seem to test what people are made of) but the fact of the matter is the heart is the decider of how anyone acts. What we cherish in the heart for good or bad eventually comes out in all other areas of our lives!
That is why Christ came to save us from what we are bent toward by nature- sin and seemingly we see most of the time people seem to gravitate to negative thinking, criticizing, complaining and arguing. Why is that? There is a pull of sin. And a Christian is called to “Put of whatever belongs to your earthly nature” [Natural pull- revenge when wronged, putting self first, doing what just feels good at the moment- good examples]
But a Christian must behave totally different, and Romans 12 tells us how
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:1-21 –
Renewal of the mind is not quick fix, but takes an effort by God’s grace and strengthening power and the Word. Often it takes years to overcome some negative default mindsets, beliefs and inclinations to think and respond a certain way that seems so ingrained. It is worth it though to find freedom!