Promises for the Hungry Heart - Week 20 [Update]
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I struggled a little this week deciding on a verse. I had some thoughts about each of them but I wasn't sure I had enough to say about all of them for a full post. I set my Bible aside for a while and spent some time thinking about each of the verses. I had it narrowed down to two but then I decided to look at the surrounding verses as well and my decision became easy. The verse I chose for this week is...
I'll settle accounts for all the bad things done in the world. Trust me. Romans 12:19
How often have you turned on the news, opened the paper, or read an article online about some terrible thing happening in the world and justice, at least in the world's eyes, not happening the way it should. There are countless numbers of people that go unpunished for crimes they commit. There are people that inflict others with pain and hurtful words and never seem to learn a lesson about how to treat their fellow humans. How can we believe that there is a just God when "good" people seem to suffer and "bad" people are reaping the benefits?
We can't see eternity. We can't even see tomorrow. Oh, sure, we can make plans and assume that on Sunday we will go to church and next Thursday go out with friends but we don't know. And just as we can't see what our future holds we can't see when God plans to bring evil to justice. We know there will come a day when they have to answer for their actions. When they beg and plead and say they did know Him he will reply that he doesn't know them. They will be cast into Hell and out of His presence. I don't think there is any consequence greater than separation from God.
But God has a different timeline than us. We become impatient and want payback now. We want to see justice served immediately. Think of how long God let the people continue sinning before the flood. He let it go on and on until only Noah and his family were left as righteous! Only then did God step in to make people pay for their evil deeds. Sometimes God's justice is swift. Other times it can take many generations.
But I don't want to only talk about God's vengeance against evil. I also want to look at the surrounding verses in Romans 12 that give us direction on how to act towards those that do us wrong. If we aren't supposed to take matters into our own hands what are we supposed to do?
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." There are difficult people in this world. People that have hurts that cause them to act in unpleasant ways. People that don't know God. People that don't understand the joy that knowing Jesus brings. People that seem determined to tear others down. As far as it depends on you, can you love those people? Can you act in a kind and peaceful manner? Instead of spouting the same type of attitudes back at the huffy mom at the soccer field can you offer her a hand? Rather than getting in an argument with someone that refuses to hear your side of the story could you end the conversation on a nice note?
What if you are the only person that can show your persecutor Jesus? What if by acting as a light you are able to act as a witness to these people? You may never see the fruition of your actions but you will feel better for not sinking to their level and maybe, just maybe, your choice to act with love and kindness will start to chip away at their hardened heart.
This is not always an easy task. I've got a fairly strong sarcastic streak and if someone gives me sass or nasty attitude it's almost an automatic response to respond the same way. Speaking sarcastically can easily turn into anger and hurtful words. Perhaps what those that cause us grief are really hungry for are love and acceptance and what they are truly thirsty for is Jesus. Can we fill up their love tank and point them to the fountain of life?
How do you respond to those that seem to have it out for you? What can you do to "overcome evil with good"? What verse did you choose this week?