Envy and Vengeance are two things the world is really good at. Unfortunately, at times, we are as well. For our morning message this upcoming Sunday on the fifth commandment we will be looking at equals. How do we treat those who are in the same authority position as we are? Culture promotes envy and strife. Culture promotes vengeance—the idea of getting even. When we consider what Jesus Christ has done for us in forgiving our sins, what right do we ever have to hold a grudge against someone who has hurt us? And who do we think we are when the thoughts of getting even flood our minds? Why would we allow bitterness toward another to take root in our heart like a cancer that slowly eats away at us?
Have you ever been wronged? Falsely accused? Hurt by another? We live in a sinful world. How we react at the hurts in our lives greatly reflects on our faith. Consider Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” For the last several weeks I have been talking about how we often curse those in authority rather than pray for them or even forgive them. Even those negative thoughts towards others that are not vocalized are sin.
Paul, later in the same chapter, writes in Romans 12:17-21, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We have been fed a steady diet of action movies where the hero takes the law into his own hands and seeks vengeance. “Get even” is almost a national motto. It extends not only toward those who have wronged us personally, but enters into that debate of envy when another has more than I do— more stuff, more opportunity, more success.
Rather than listen to the political climate of the day which always promotes war with the other party or the other candidate…..
rather than listen to those who would promote racism…..
rather than listen to those who seek to draw a line in the sand and rally the troops to a cause…
we need to listen more to the words of Jesus.
Luke 6:27-31, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from the one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
These words from Christ are not in vogue in 21st century America, but they are the very Words of God.