Category Archives: Revenge OR Mercy

Second Chances, New Starts.

I was sitting in a gas station just the other day sitting at a table and drinking a beverage. Then the song was playing on the radio, “Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is a second chance” and as odd as it might seem, it was as if God was using just some ordinary song to speak to my life.

I have actually thought often about a meaningful passage of Scripture that has been special to me for a few years now.

that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. (Philemon 1:10-16)

Onesimus had been Philemon’s run away slave, and had stolen from Philemon when he ran away. What happened though was later on Onesimus meets the Apostle Paul and becomes a believer in Christ Jesus alao. Paul pleads as a friend and spiritual father figure of Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as a freed man, and fellow believer!

This is a wonderful picture of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and Paul makes a very passionate and pursuasive appeal to Philemon, reminding him that it was because of him, Philemon became a believer and became free from sin and God’s judgement too! Paul earlier on had had the privilege to share the Gospel with Philemon and as a result, Philemon became a faithful follower!

So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

Philemon 1:17-21 –

Paul offers to repay whatever is been lost in the process, yet adds, “Not to mention, that you owe me your very self” (some translations say, “Your soul”)

There is also another story that depicts grace at work, in Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable of the Prodigal Son.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32 –

Both Biblical narratives remind us of how gracious God is. Like the father in the second story, of Luke 15, we see a father who let the son leave, did not stop him, but waited long it seems for his son to come home and rejoiced when his son did. He ran to meet him even as he was in the distance.

In Isaiah 30, it says: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

(Isaiah 30:18-19)

Isaiah chapter 30 starts by talking about a prodigal nation. A nation that was being rebellious toward God and forsaking Him for idols. Yet, as angry as God was at these people, he says in conclusion, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you” –gracious and good are often synonymous words in the Bible. Infact, the name John means “God is gracious” and “God is good”

Thus interesting that a Gospel is named, “John” who often refered to himself as “The disciple that Jesus loved” and he writes this because he knew God loved him- not to suggest he did not love the other ones, but John writes much about “Love” as we see also in 1 John the letter:

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19

God’s love initiated our salvation, “For God demonstrated his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God is ready to welcome home to his heart all who turn in faith to Hin. Jesus Christ made it possible to be fully restored to God because God is full of love. He hates sin but loved the sinner to die in all our places so forgiveness was possible!

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Unforgiveness:The Thirst For Power

Abusing power for violence- Unforgiveness a life behind bars.

Many today may seek positions of power and want to rise to greatness- the problem that can easily come though from the fallen sinful heart is using power for personal revenge or violence. The Bible condemns this behavior. The Pharisees fit this bill quite well, so did the princes of Israel in Ezekial 22:6, as well as Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:10-23

“ ‘See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood. (Ezekiel 22:6)

and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

[Acts 8:10-23 -]

There is a problem with all of us though, we are sinful – and any human being growing in power without yielding to a reverence and respect for God can easily become spoiled by desire to misuse power to his or her own unjust gain or personal revenge. In contrast, we see people who used there place of power for benevolent good such as Joseph in the book of Genesis. He forgave his brothers who had sold him as a slave years before and used his power to save their lives and their nation.

As Christians, whether small or great, well known or inconspicuous, God calls us to not misuse what position we have.

Vital key to Christian living is “Forgiveness”—we are called to

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:30-32]

In order to progress in our walks with the Lord Jesus Christ we have to deal with bitterness and unresolved anger. It does not mean what others have done is right, or excusable, but first: We have been forgiven so much in Christ Jesus. And witholding forgiveness is not seeing how great our own sin cost Jesus who suffered sinlessly for us. Secondly, forgiveness entrusts God as superior judge of these people and puts Him on His rightful throne to deal with them as he sees fit to.

God is serious about sin far more then any human could be. Sin meant Christ suffered unjustly and lost his life because that was the only sacrifice that could make any of us forgiven. Also, we sin ourselves and have created pain and suffering for others in ways we may never realize and also grieve God when we sin, so to think we can be rightful judges of others sets us up to be hypocrites and tells God he is not smart enough to handle others who sin. That is dumb. God knows all, he sees their actions from the day they were born but knows also their motives, life stories, everything about them that may factor in here or there and he knows their struggles too. Not to say any of us are off the hook, but Christ hung so we would not hang.

But if a person does not forgive- Christ warns God wont forgive their sins. This does not mean it is not emotionally challenging and does not take time to fully seek God and find freedom from an unforgiving attitude- It infact does often involves pressing toward God in prayer and he changes our hearts as we do. Yet the concept here is just an adiment refusal to forgive. It enslaves here in this life and will condemn the unforgiving in the eternal state. Grudges must be dealt with and some spend a life behind bars being driven by desire of revenge. It is not worth it. People destroy those who may inadvertently hurt them presently because things from early on have been so sore in their hearts that they react in fury toward even people who are not original offenders. We all sin in many ways and step on toes but so often unresolved hurts from even childhood can haunt us in the present unless we allow Christ to set us free!

Ancient Hostilities- Must Go.

#VengeanceIsTheLord’s

“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”

“Ancient hostility”

“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!

Regurgitating Resentment-Don’t Lie In A Bed Of Emotional Puke.

Dirty engine oil, that will eventually cause issues. They say you need an oil change after a certain amount of driving, and cannot recall the exact amount, but emotional engines like our heart have the capacity for accumulating filth. Many drive their lives throughout their weeks and months letting deposits of emotional dirt and grime pollute their emotional engines and spiritual transmission.

Here is another term I will call, “Emotional Cache” and in computer terms, you have what is called “History” that tracks your website usage and all the websites you been to.

Many people also have emotional history, a lot of it is negative and unavoidable, and has just resulted from being around people just as imperfect as we all are for a long enough time to gather some amount of negative emotional catch. If we cannot figure out how to push, “clear history” by forgiving these people, then our emotional hardrive will fill up and cause problems in us, spiritually, emotionally, as well as socially . This is why many marriages fall apart, loved ones grow apart from time and strain, also this is why friends seperate when a small argument can remind them of all that past cache from yesteryear.

Because your petty argument today can have strings that open up hurts from years long gone.

God, however, does not do this with us once we have trusted by faith to call on the name of Christ for the “erasing” of “God’s History” of all the wrong things we have done, to both him and others, and even when we fall as believers, which is not the goal of a true child of God,  but when it happens, he erases the History daily.

(Lamentations 3:22-23) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

If God held a grudge then all Christians too would be condemned since we still fall into sin, yet:

(Romans 8:1-2) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

So when we choose not to forgive others, we not only harm ourselves, but  we also are showing contempt for God’s mercy. That is why Jesus said,

(Matthew 6:14-15) For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

We cannot earn salvation by forgiving people, the scripture is clear that we are “saved by grace through faith, not of yourselves but as a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:5)

Yet, if a genuinely converted Christ follower who has not forgiven someone, it will gnaw at their souls and fester like an infected sore until they have no choice but to let go of the unresolved bitterness. I am convinced God won’t let a Christian stay like that forever, unless they never truly gave themselves over to following Christ but merely only said some words and walked an isle without sincerely turning their lives over to Christ.

However, a born again person truly changed by the grace of God has no choice, and this does not mean we re-establish unhealthy interpersonal interactions, since the Bible warns us to avoid certain unhealthy social situations, but it does means we have to let go of malice and let God judge and not begrudge the person who wronged us. Grudges cause relational break downs among more then just the offender and the offended, because if the offended sits in a bed of sour emotional vomit their hearts will blister and irritated. They will take out their fears, distrust and anger on people who slight them unintentionally because their thinking becomes raw toward everyone.

Three Practical Ways To Entrust Our Enemies to the Lord.

Proverbs 13:10 Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Pride is usually the cream filled center of every divisive or heated argument. No one enjoys looking like the loser of an argument, no one likes admitting they are wrong, and no one likes this especially when they know the other person won’t own their part in the blame.This is hard for me! But I got to remind myself:

1 Corinthians 6:7-8 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

It’s not fun or pleasant to be wronged, but it is far better then to be the one doing the wrong!

Romans 12:17-21 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.

There are three steps to fight pride and the desire to come out on top.

1.) Acknowledge God is in control and has the ability and prerogative to deal with people who wrong you. “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord.

2.) Do good to your enemies-

Sometimes its not wise to interact with certain people do to the nature of their offenses, so it that case prayer is essential. Pray that God allows them to repent and seek forgiveness, pray that God changes them and helps them to turn from evil and do good. These are not prayers that enable sinners- no, but they are prayers that can change them.

3.) Commit your case to God and let him deal with the person in a way he seems right.

1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

There are times where we suffer just for living a godly life. Not everyone will like the way we live because often our presence can make their own consciences uncomfortable about what they are doing! There is right and wrong in life and when you doing right interferes with someone’s agenda who wants wrong, be prepared for many to try to stir up trouble. Envy and selfish will in someone else are at times the reason for our unfair suffering but we must trust God to not overlook our commitment to do right!

Clean Justice or Messy Revenge

When we deal revenge it is messy business that is seldom if ever able to only deal with our offenders. Yet when God deals justice it is clean an thorough and without error. When mankind deals revenge its a mess.

-Romans 12:19 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. –