h1

The Heart of God (Episode VII)

January 8, 2008

Romans 12:21  “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It runs contrary to our fallen nature.  To love and express goodwill to those who would seek to bring us misfortune.  It’s so easy to retaliate when we have been wronged by someone.  To forgive them, on the other hand, and love them as ourselves is only possible when we are walking in the Spirit.  This portion of the sermon on the mount brings to light the way that we are to respond to those who are contrary toward us. 

Matthew 5:38-39 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

A breaking of the cycle of violence and counter-violence that had been in place on the earth ever since Cain slew his brother Abel.  In fact the earth was so full of violence and wickedness that God had to do away with the old world with a global flood; sparing just Noah and his immediate family.  (Violence is simply contrary to the will of God.)  This passage talks of not only refraining from retaliation when we’re wronged, but to “stay the course” so to speak; even at the risk of further mistreatment. 

I cannot remember all of the details, but in one account brought forth in the book “Secret Believers” a situation developed where several christian homes were torched by an angry muslim mob.  They were tempted to retaliate but didn’t and it led to a furtherance of the gospel in that corner of Pakistan.  When we retaliate and seek vengence, we’re serving self.  When we love them instead; even to the point of exposing ourselves to further ill-treatment because we see a lost soul in need of Jesus, we’re looking at things from an eternal perspective.  

Matthew 5:40-42  “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

To go above and beyond what is required of us; keeping the eternal perspective before us.  I remember someone telling it like this.  When compelled to go a mile, the first mile is by requirement.  The second is of our own free will.  Nobody asked us to do it but we did it anyway.  Loving our neighbor as ourself and placing their needs above our wants or itineraries.  We’re to love them with the love of Christ and pray that their names will be recorded in the book of life.  The need for grasping the eternal perspective on things has been on my heart a lot lately and these verses remind us of just how important it is.  The next set of verses offer increased clarity of this. 

Matthew 5:43-44  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

To love those who give us every reason under the sun to not love them.  To pray for them instead of striving to get even.  To just “let it go” and not allowing unforgiveness or bitterness to gain a foothold in our heart.  I’ve noticed that when someone is really hard to love, due to a malicious attitude, a negative disposition, or what have you, our heart toward them will change when we begin to lift them up in prayer.  We’ll begin to see them as someone made in the image of God for whom Jesus shed his blood to redeem.  With over six billion people in the world, we’re going to encounter folks who challenge our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves.  When such moments arrive, we can either grow into more Christ-likeness or be overcome by the situation.  This next verse is mind-blowing.

Matthew 5:45  “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Ther Lord is merciful to those who never give him so much as a thought.  He’s merciful and kind; not only to those who love him, but also to those who continuously reject him.  Likewise, we should have compassion for those who may not so much as acknowledge our presence.  It’s contrary to the tendancies of the old man, but it’s ever so powerful.  (And required of us) 

Matthew 5:46-47  “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”

It’s easy to love someone who is likeminded.  (suddenly the commercials for eharmony.com are coming to mind. Even the goofy song. Oh the perils of blogging at 3:40 am.)  Our contemporaries with whom we have a lot in common don’t pose a challenge for us as the old addage “birds of a feather flock together” holds true.  But when we love those whom we know will not love us back, then is the fruit of the Spirit manifest in our lives. 

Matthew 5:48  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 

To be like Jesus who loved us when we were lost and not even looking for him.  Who saved us because he loved us and desired that we should spend eternity with him.  “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”  May we all strive all the more to be less like us and more like Jesus. 

Well, it’s late and I have to go for now.  This will probably need some editing tomorrow, but I’ll go ahead and post it now.  (I tried to review it and I keep dozing off.)  Until the next time, I wish to all a blessed day in Jesus. 

Advertisements

8 comments

  1. Good post and a timely reminder of the need to choose love and forgiveness timbob, thank you. There has been a very real drama being played out at work, but unfortunately the choices being made by the owners and managers are not those which model the christian attributes of patience, love and forgiveness.

    The obvious hypocrisy only drives the unsaved further away from Christ and Christianity, while those of us who know and love the Lord are saddened and dismayed, hoping that in some small way the light and love of Jesus will shine in our lives enough to counter the opposition, and be a genuine expression of faith, hope, love and truth in the midst of darkness and deception.

    For the LORD is Good and He is Faithful! At all times and in every situation. May we all see the opportunities afforded to be a living example of Jesus love and grace when we are asked to go the extra mile, are wronged, or even cursed and reviled.

    As Corrie Ten Boom said ” No pit is so deep, that Christ is not deeper still…”

    Be blessed today Tim, in Jesus mercy, love and grace!

    Susan


  2. May the fleshly tablets of our hearts be burned even deeper with the directives and ways of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    ‘This is how the world will know that you are mine, your love…’


  3. good post. i think there have been certain people placed in my life to stretch me into loving them even though they are selfish and unloving toward me. it’s very difficult especially when they do the complete opposite of who they say they are or the person is a family member.


  4. This is perhaps THE HARDEST part of the Christian walk.


  5. Hi Timbob!

    The really good thing about all this is that we cannot live the “Sermon on the Mount” in our own strength! It’s good news because with men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible!

    The LORD wrote it on my heart a while back that all the things that He requires of us, we cannot do; only He can do these things through us. That is my only hope as I am not a naturally loving person. When situations come up that I cannot handle, I simple tell the LORD, I can’t, but You can. Please do it through me.

    There are a few times that really stick out for me when He took over and did what I could not. The most memorable is the time I took my Mother to Florida to visit with her sister, my aunt. It was during the hot late Spring and they had their A/C set at a very uncomfortable temp. It doesn’t sound like much, but I was miserable. I knelt down in the bedroom and asked the LORD to take over as I was too weak. Well, that night, in the bedroom my Mother and I were staying in, a termite swarm took place. I am testifying to you right now that termites were crawling all over us. They were everywhere! Timbob, termites don’t bother Jesus! I was able to go to sleep with bugs crawling on me only because the LORD was so gracious to have taken over for me to endure what I could not.

    Anyway, He loves others more than we could ever possibly love them. Your post is so good to remind us that we are to live this “life of Another” – outside of ourselves and inside Jesus.

    Now, if I could only remember to ask the LORD to take over every minute of every day, then life would be so much less difficult! 🙂

    Many blessings to you Timbob!

    Marie


  6. Wow!
    Amen, Marie!


  7. I pray just about everyday to love and see people the way Jesus but I fail so many times. Your post is a great reminder to us. I am reading Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel and it goes along with what you are writing.
    Be blessed and thanks!
    Rachel


  8. Greetings to all. Once again, It has to be a group response.

    Susan: It’s always heartbreaking when folks professing Christ as Savior and Lord make decisions which are contrary while those who are in the valley of decision look on. I pray that the owners will be mindful of the potential damage that this causes and the eternal ramifications of scattering. If that’s not on target, please let me know as I’m not completely aware of what’s taking place. Nonetheless, we must be mindful of actions which scatter away those who are truly seeking. I know that you are a city set upon a hill in that place.

    Bro. Johnny: Amen! May this be the prayer of us all.

    Code: Indeed there are people who really push to see how far we’ll go and the trial of our faith works patience. (I also think that the Lord has a really good sense of humor.)

    J Kaiser: Its a trial that can come upon us when we least expect it. To truly love our neighbor as ourselves takes the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

    Marie: This is so true. To be Christlike we must die to self and none of us can do this in our own power. But we can do all things through Christ; even sleep with termites crawling about.

    Rachel: All of us wrestle with this one, just as we continuously have to die daily to ourselves. Therein lies the problem. The old self wants to rise up and look out for self.

    Thanks to all for taking time to offer your ponderings. I’ll try to get around more as I’m on a layoff. It is supposed to last three weeks but could be unexpectedly shortened. (I’m praying for the whole three weeks) Have a blessed day in Jesus.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: