By Chris WittsWednesday 11 Sep 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Proverbs 20:22: “Do not say,’I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord,and he will deliver you.” C.S. Lewis hit it on the head when he said,”Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea,until they have something to forgive.” Country Music singer Garth Brooks has a song with these lyrics: “We bury the hatchet but leave the handle stickin’ out; we’re always diggin’ up things we should forget about.” It’s been said that true forgiveness is hard to extend because it demands that we let go of something we value – the right to repay. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that “love keeps no record of wrongs.” Who do you need to let go of right now?
4. Realize that it’s always right to do what’s right. This is stated in the last part of Romans 12 verse 17: “Be careful to do what’s right in the eyes of everybody.” It’s easy to misunderstand this statement. It’s not our job to make everyone happy but to instead live good lives by consistently doing what’s right. Note that we’re to be “careful” to do this,which means that we’re to “take thought beforehand” how we’re going to respond in certain situations. Too many of us live haphazardly and shoot from the hip when God wants us to be prepared to walk in His ways. The word “right” here means,”beautiful or precious.” When we ponder how to do that which is precious to God,people will notice and give Him glory. Here’s the principle: Live in such a way that no one can make an honest accusation against you.
5. Be at peace if possible. Verse 18 challenges us to be peacemakers: “If it is possible,as far as it depends on you,live at peace with everyone.” This verse is so realistic because sometimes making peace is unattainable. The key is to do everything you can do to be at peace with everyone. Notice the phrase,”If it is possible” and then the next one: “as far as it depends on you.” This literally means,”As far as what proceeds from you.”
Here are some questions to ponder when it comes to peacemaking.
• Have you accepted your part in the breakdown of peace?
• Are you willing to make right the wrongs that you may have done?
• Have you forgiven any wrong that has been done to you?
• Are you doing your part to be at peace?
If the other person refuses to be reconciled there is not much more you can do. Perhaps you can think like this .. “My response is my responsibility and the only person I can change is me.” We will not answer for the other individual but we will answer for ourselves.
Rabbi David Nelson likes to tell the story of two brothers who went to their rabbi to settle a longstanding feud. The rabbi got the two to reconcile their differences and shake hands. As they were about to leave,he asked each one to make a wish for the New Year. The first brother turned to the other and said,”I wish what you wish for me.” At that,the second brother threw up his hands and said,”See,rabbi,he’s starting up again!”
I love the closing words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:11: “Finally,brothers,good-by. Aim for perfection,listen to my appeal,be of one mind,live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” As you think of that person that you’re in conflict with,have you made every effort to be at peace? Remember the saying,”It takes two to tango?” We could rephrase this to say,”It takes two to tangle.”
6. Relinquish revenge to God. When we’re hurt we often want to hurt the one who has hurt us but verse 19 calls us to live differently: “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.” God has called us to be peacemakers,not prosecutors. Unfortunately,many of us want to exact justice on those who have wronged us. Revenge goes beyond just getting even; revenge is excessive retribution. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35 which is a reference to the truth that one day God will balance the books. The full verse is not quoted here so let me complete it: “…In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”
The wrath of God is not a popular doctrine today but it nevertheless is true. The word itself refers to that which is “swelling and ready to burst.” Listen to Nahum 1:2: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.” This underscores the importance of leaving room for the wrath of God. We’re to give our anger and desire to retaliate over to God and then back off. When we act in judgment toward others we are usurping God’s rightful role because God says,”It is mine to avenge.” Let’s face it – this is hard for many of us. We want justice and we want it right now. Once again,Bruce Goettsche is spot on.
• God alone can judge fairly. We don’t know all the variables and we can’t measure anyone else’s heart. God maintains the moral order,not us.
• No one is going to get away with anything. God will make sure that justice will be done,in His way and in His time.
• The God of judgment is also the God of mercy. Aren’t you glad God is gracious and merciful toward you?
Here’s something to think about. As long as you try to get even,you’re still living in the past. It may have happened years ago,but you’re still stewing about it. Listen. When you try to get even,evil destroys you because the other person keeps on winning. He or she still controls your life as long as you want revenge. The only way to get free of your past is to let it go once and for all. If you think about it,your enemy wins twice – once when he or she hurt you,and twice because you’re still thinking about how to get even. No wonder he or she is smiling. And you’re not.
Friends,the best way to overcome evil is to do so with good. This is not easy,is it? Notice the word “but” in the verse. This is yet another way Christians are to live in contrast to those around them. The word “overcome” means to conquer or carry off to victory. Let me suggest just one example from Proverbs 15:1. When someone is angry at you,the best response is not to retaliate but instead to respond softly: “A gentle answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I like what Martin Luther King,Jr. often said: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
One commentator captured it well when he said,”We are the disciples of Him,who died for His enemies.” Friends,remember that none of us would be Christians if Christ had not loved his enemies and overcome our evil with His great good – His death and resurrection. Jesus is our example and our motivation. How do I show real love to the one I love to hate? I do it by looking to Jesus who showed real love to me.