Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Proverbs 24:17-18 It’s not the time to celebrate!

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,

    and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the Lord see it and be displeased,

    and turn away his anger from him. (Proverbs 24:17-18)

Everyone loves a good story ending when the villain gets his due. We have cheered from childhood when the wicked witch melts before our eyes in The Wizard of Oz, or when the archenemy of Superman, Lex Luthor gets defeated at the end of a comic book. We hate the wicked and love to see good triumph!

However, Jesus told us that, in real life, our attitude toward our enemies should be to pray for them. What??? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned our common hatred of our enemies upside down:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Jesus is telling us that if all we do is love those who love us, we are no better than the pagans around us. ANYONE can love someone who loves them back. But love someone who has HURT us? Someone who has set out to harm us in the eyes of our coworkers or neighbors? How on earth can we love that person?? We can’t! At least, not in our own strength. We can’t muster up warm, fuzzy feelings toward someone who has abused us. That is impossible! But with God ALL things are possible. He would not have given us this command, if He could not also give us supernatural strength to carry it out.

First, let’s remember that biblical love, agape love, is NOT about warm, fuzzy feelings. It has nothing to do with our emotions. It’s about our actions. It’s about demonstrating love by acting it out. We are to bless those who persecute us; give them our cloak when they sue us; turn the other cheek when they malign us. This is exactly what Jesus did from the cross! And it all begins with prayer. It is impossible to remain angry with someone if you are praying for him.

So if your enemy falls, don’t join the cheering section! Don’t do a happy dance around the room and high five your friends! Don’t throw a party. Thank the LORD for justice, but pray for the redemption of your enemy. Do you have a neighbor or coworker who has been your nemesis for years? Instead off expressing glee when he stumbles, pray for him, then offer a hand to help him up. The world is waiting to see Jesus in us. That’s how we do it!

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