Do good to enemies

Paul quotes these verses in the context of teaching that the key to doing good to one’s enemies is trusting God’s justice (Ro 12:17 – 21). Often the biggest obstacle to releasing a grudge is the fear that it will unjustly discount how bad or hurtful certain actions were. Proverbs and Paul say that the way to let grudges go is by trusting that God will take care of it. Burning coals represent the pricking of the conscience of the wrongdoer, rather than responding in violence. Failing to forgive enemies indicates a lack of trust in the gospel. In effect, holding a grudge says, “The cross of Jesus Christ is enough to forgive the sins I commit against God, but it is not enough to forgive the sins committed against me.”

God’s people can experience freedom from grudges and do good toward their enemies for two reasons. First, there is a possibility that responding with goodness will open an enemy’s heart to the gospel and bring about reconciliation. Second, believers can afford to suffer injustices temporarily knowing that God will someday judge the unrepentant. Trusting in the justice of God enabled Jesus to endure his suffering. The apostle Peter told believers, “To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1Pe 2:21,23).

Jesus, you know that it hurts to be treated unfairly. Help me to place this hurt in your hands to deal with it accordingly. You are more just than I could ever be. Amen.

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Vision and darkness

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light—that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10–11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God . . .” —El-Shaddai, the AllPowerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

O Lord, with much dimness I draw nigh to You. Clear the dimness away from me and flood me with the light of Your countenance.

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