Moment in the Word
Thu, 09/01/2022 - 11:26am admin
Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Sometimes we find ourselves in special situations of redressing perceived wrongs previously committed against us. In those unique moments, the offender might be presented to us (as it were) on a silver platter like a plump Christmas turkey to be carved, dismembered, and devoured.
However, does the perfect opportunity for revenge also justify retribution?
Think of Joseph who finally gained the power to repay his devious brothers for their malicious enslavement of him in Egypt. The young lad had been captured, abused, abandoned in a pit to die, eventually sold into servitude, falsely accused, publicly humiliated, consigned to prison, and forgotten for years without release.
But when the young man eventually regained his freedom and became governor under Pharaoh, was he justified in holding his brothers accountable for their treacherous crimes? What does God's word say?
"And when the brethren of Joseph saw that their father was dead, they said, Let us take heed, lest at any time Joseph remember evil against us, and recompense to us all the evils which we have done against him...And Joseph said to them, Fear not, for I am God's. 20 Ye took counsel against me for evil, but God took counsel for me for good, that the matter might be as it is today, and much people might be fed. 21 And he said to them, Fear not, I will maintain you, and your families: and he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them," Genesis 50:15, 19-21, Brenton's 1851 Greek Septuagint.
I notice three or four main points. First, Joseph was not at liberty to act independently as his own agent, for he said, "I am God's," and was personally accountable to a higher standard than his own private agenda. Second, he emphasized divine election in every unpleasant circumstance he faced, "Ye took counsel against me for evil, but God took counsel for me for good, that the matter might be as it is today, and much people might be fed." Consequently, "he comforted them (his hateful brothers) and spoke kindly to them," rather than giving each one what they truly deserved according to the wrongs perpetrated against him.
Recently, I faced a similar choice to "comfort and speak kindly" or rudely respond and settle an old score. Wavering between two choices like Asaph, "my feet were almost overthrown; my goings very nearly slipped," Psalms 73:2 (72:2) Brenton's1851 Greek Septuagint.
On the verge of being hateful, I suddenly decided to ignore the past grudge and be courteous instead. Truly, "anger slays even wise men; yet a submissive answer turns away wrath..." Proverbs 15:1, Brenton's 1851 Greek Septuagint.
Walking away from the pleasant encounter, I kept hearing a portion of this week's verse, "That ye may be the children of your Father..." but oddly I was not thinking of God! Instead, I mused with satisfaction, "Grandpa would have been proud!"
As Jesus taught, our choice of actions does not merely portray our character but those in Heaven and on Earth who are also represented by our example. Consequently, "since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," Hebrews 12:1.