Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Now, back to the interesting thing that happened in Sunday School. We were studying Romans 12. There are several verses in the chapter that tell us not to take revenge on those who harm us. For example, verse 17 says "repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sigh of all." verse 19 says "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'vengeance is mine, 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; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

In other words, we are to leave revenge, payback, getting even, and teaching folks a lesson to God. He claims the right to even the accounts.

He commands us not only to refrain from revenge, but to seek the good of our enemies. Minister to their needs. Jesus taught, in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should bless those who persecute us and pray for them. Not only can we not wish them ill, we must wish them well and seek what is good for them. this, I confess, is a difficult standard to bear.

For years, I forgave people in a non-work situation, but operated differently as a trial lawyer. I cooperated with those who treated me well and were honest. Those who cheated or slighted me, however, I punished. Then, a year or so ago, a non-Christian attorney told me she did not think that was a Christian way to do it. That cut me. So, I read the passages teaching about this and realized she was right. I hate it when the non-Christian sees the Christian message more clearly than I, but God works in mysterious ways.

I told this story to my class also, only to have one member tell me she was exempt from this because she has a political job and must show people they can run over her. That is the way I felt for years. However, the Scripture did not make exceptions. God said he would take care of the accounts. We are to be a witness for him.

Luther said: "Every word should be allowed to stand in its natural meaning and should not be abandoned unless faith forces us to it. The literal sense of Scripture alone is the essence of faith and of Christian theology."

We should never make a snap judgment that Scripture does not apply to us. The presumption should be that it does. We should read it and meditate on it and ask God to apply it to our situation. Otherwise we miss the blessing of operating in his Word and his will.
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