Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Just Sit There - Retaliate..with Love!!

There are times I grow tired of just taking it! Someone talks about me behind my back, and I just take it. Someone makes an obscene gesture towards me, and I just take it. Someone calls me the “N-word”, and – you guessed it – I just take it! Today, in my Standing Strong Through the Storms of Life devotional, I had my approach to these types of situations challenged. After reading through the writer’s testimonial, and following his line of reason, I realized I’ve been flawed in my approach. From now on, after careful Scriptural consideration, I won’t just take it anymore. When someone does me wrong, I will retaliate! Retaliation is technically defined as, “action taken in return for an injury or offense”. In my devotional, the writer shared the dilemma he faced as he tried to encourage a group of Christians who were experiencing intense persecution for their faith. The group was divided in half – one that urged retaliation, the other who projected that nothing be done. As the rhetoric escalated, the Jesus pleasing response became very clear – he called the group to retaliate! A stunned silence fell on the room. Just as those who proposed no action stood to leave the room in disgust while the others smiled triumphantly, he asked all to stay put and calm down. He then began to explain his plan for retaliation. It is clear in the Matthew 5 passage that Jesus does not call His followers to passive inaction when we are wronged. The pastor’s point to the besieged Christians – a point applicable to all Christians – is that Jesus calls His followers to an active, engaging RESPONSE – godly retaliation – for the wrongs committed against us. Read Jesus’ words from Matthew 5 carefully: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Jesus calls us to action: If slapped, TURN. If something is taken, GIVE. If someone asks, OBLIGE. If someone hates, LOVE. If someone persecutes, PRAY. In every situation of wrong doing, specific action in response is required of the Jesus follower – a godly retaliation. Not retaliation for revenge or destruction, but retaliation rooted in God’s love for the purpose of delivering an opposite and superior force! In God’s economy, grace, mercy and loving action are more powerful than and will overcome evil. Christians are not called to do nothing, but rather are called to courageously act in love as a testimony for righteousness, justice and all that is good. So, whenever you find yourself in a situation where someone is really sticking it to you, don’t return the evil for evil and don’t just take it either. Rather, commit yourself to apply godly retaliation – good action in direct response to the wrong delivered, and watch God work in the situation for the good of all concerned and for His glory. Until next time… Sam

Monday, September 9, 2013

True Humility

Preachers like to joke about the fictitious pastor who wrote a book entitled: “The 3 Greatest Ministers of the Present Era, and How I mentored the other 2!” There are certainly times where the weight of responsibility and critical nature of a job can cause us to fight an inward pridefulness that causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The devotional from which the joke came points out that the Bible records that in spite of all Moses had accomplished and the uniqueness of his closeness to God, he walked simply, being more humble than anyone else in his day. He is also shown to be a person who had such a selfless focus that on one occasion, Joshua asked Moses to stop an unnamed group of people from prophesying in the Lord’s name, since that was Moses’ “rightful duty”. Without hesitation, Moses responded, “If only all the Lord’s people were prophets, and the Lord would place His Spirit upon them!” Are you excited to see others grow and display excellence of character and expertise – even when it encroaches on “your” territory? Or do you seek to lift yourself above others, holding them back to help you maintain an appearance of superiority? As you consider your response, consider these words from the book of James: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Invite God’s grace into your life by lifting up others and allowing God, in His time, to lift you up that you can do even more for Him! Until Next Time... Sam