Let My Praises Be Heard!
DOES GOD TAKE THE ‘INITIATIVE’ TO REACH MY ‘ENEMY’ WITH HIS LOVE?
During my difficult times, I am called to ‘commit my ways unto the Lord’. Also, not only am I to rejoice in the Lord, when I am the object of another’s scorn and hurt, I am to rejoice that God continues to love my enemies and that God, in His own timing, will bring my ‘enemies’ to a place of repentance and faith in Christ. I can rejoice in the Lord that ‘vengeance towards my enemies belongs to the Lord’. God will bring just punishment to those who (from God’s perspective) ‘deserve’ punishment.
God is not vindictive in His judgment of evil persecutors, but He, nevertheless, is the Judge of all persons. Through several methods (like chastening and like imposition of great loss to the sinner, etc.), our merciful God is intent on humbling a proud or a deceitful sinner- to incite ‘godly sorrow’ deep within his heart and mind! Repeatedly stated (and very important): “God is not willing that any person should perish, but that all persons should come to repentance!”
I must look beyond the ‘hurt’ that my persecutors inflict on me, and, instead of falling into self-pity or into a vengeful ‘rage’, I must (as Jesus) see the pitiful (sin-causing) condition of my ‘enemy’, and (in a spirit of forgiveness and compassion) earnestly pray for my ‘enemy’s’ wonderful forgiveness and healing and transformation to a new life in Christ! I ought to look at him, not as what he presently is, but for what he can be through Christ Jesus!
If God can change a wicked John Newton (slave trader), God can change anyone! Then when God has made the ‘bad man’ into a ‘good man’, this transformed sinner can join John Newton in singing “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”
When I feel the ‘blows’ of the persecutor’s ‘whip’ (literally or figuratively), I must remember that ‘there go l, but for the grace of God.’ If sin had its way in my life, there is no telling what a ‘wretch’ I would have become. I am what I am (goodness, righteousness, integrity, compassion, peace, love, holiness) – ‘only by the grace of God.’
If it were not for the grace of God that has touched my life, I probably would be the ‘persecutor’ rather than the ‘persecuted’! What l just noted, is exemplified in the life of the apostle Paul. He was the persecuting one (seeking to kill Christians), but when the ‘great light of heaven’ reached him (in conversion); Paul became the object of brutal persecution! His conversion ‘turned the tables’, from the persecuting one to the persecuted one! All because Paul obeyed the ‘call’ to follow Christ for the remainder of his days!
In closely observing the life of the apostle Paul, and the life of John Newton, I must renew my faith in God’s transforming power that is; God can make a bad man good! I must focus on the vision that God has for the lost soul (the soul who is so ‘out of sorts’ with himself, that he chooses to be ‘out of sorts’ with his surrounding human beings).
When one of the ‘out-of-sorts’ souls chooses to aim his sharp arrows of persecution at me (for no ‘good reason’), I must see beyond his cruel behavior, and realize that this ‘enemy’ of mine needs not my retaliation but my compassion and understanding and forgiveness.
I must remind myself (even though my unjust treatment is hurtful) that this persecutor is deeply loved by God, just as Saul the killer of Christians, was greatly loved by God, and, indeed, was pursued by God! As God miraculously changed a killer of Christians into a lover of Christians, so God is certainly able and willing to change my God-rejecter into a God lover! And when this miracle happens on a vertical scale, there will automatically be an effect on the horizontal scale.
In other words, when there is reconciliation between a sinner and God, there will (soon or eventually) be reconciliation between the sinner and his fellow human beings (even between him – as my ‘enemy’- and myself)!
I must rejoice in the Lord that God will use the suffering that I experience (at the hands of wretched persons), to perfect my own character. I also must rejoice in the Lord that He will render the just judgment that is necessary to bring a sinner to the ‘foot of the cross’! Rejoicing because of God’s loving treatment of me (during great adversity), and rejoicing because of God’s just and merciful treatment of my persecutors.