April 8: “How to Be Kind to Those To Harm Us”

11 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

Deuteronomy 32:28-52
Luke 12:35-59
Psalm 78:56-64
Proverbs 12:24

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NLT): “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Our Verse for Today might have caught your attention as you were reading through Moses’ song in Deuteronomy 32. The reason may be that it is an oft-quoted text in the New Testament.

So, let’s spend some time unpacking some of its truths.

1. For God to remain holy, He must punish sin.

Over and over in Scripture, the perfect holiness of God is proclaimed and illustrated. He has not sinned, cannot sin, and cannot allow sin into His presence. In fact, the book of Revelation pictures for us how God will take out His wrath upon sin and sinners to finally and ultimately destroy what brought such destruction to His creation.

So, if God is to remain holy, He must punish sin. He cannot remain indifferent to what has brought such destruction.

Imagine that a murderer took the life of someone you dearly loved. All of the evidence, including the criminal’s very own confession, made it clear that he is the one who killed your loved one with premeditation and in cold blood. Further, imagine that it came time for sentencing and the judge let the murderer go free.

Here’s the question: Is that judge a good judge or a bad judge? We all know that he is a bad judge because a good judge lives by the motto: “You do the crime, you do the time.” Good judges don’t let the guilty go free.

Well, my friend, God is a good judge. He WILL punish sin. He won’t let the guilty go free.

Acts 17:30-31 (NLT): “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

So, when our Verse for Today quotes God as saying, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,” this is exactly what a holy God MUST do.

2. For God to remain loving, He must punish sin.

If God really loves us as much as He says He does (John 3:16; etc.), then He MUST punish sin.

Imagine that you observed a parent at a park. Their toddler was playing on the playground. Then you noticed that a bully was hitting the toddler, and the little child was crying. Everything in you was prepared to get up and run to the toddler’s rescue, but you believed the parent needed to act first. You glanced over at the parent and, to your shock, they were observing the same thing and remained indifferent. They were watching their toddler get mercilessly abused, and they appeared indifferent to their child’s plight. Before jumping into action, you would assess that the parent doesn’t love their child. If they did, they would get angry at what was bringing harm to their child and try to stop the injustice.

It is in this way that we understand that God cannot remain indifferent to sin. Sin seeks to harm and destroy us. So, if God really loves us, and He does, then He cannot remain indifferent to sin. He must hate it and work for it’s demise. When we are harmed by a sinful act, God will make sure that the injustice is dealt with.

3. To survive injustice, we find comfort in knowing that God will judge.

We must not administer our own justice. The New Testament clarifies that Christians are to forego personal justice and, instead, love those who are our enemies.

But how? Since we are made in God’s image, we desire justice when we or someone is wronged. How can our desire for justice be met while we are forbidden to engage in personal retribution?

Romans 12:19 (NLT): “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.”

Simply put, we must realize that God will not let sin go unpunished. In His own time and in His own way, He will administer justice. So, since we know that He will take care of things, we can love and bless those who have wronged us.

4. As the one who is wronged, we have the option to drop the charges.

This is a fascinating concept. God is the judge, but we are the ones who are often wronged. When we observe the Apostle Paul’s understanding of how this plays out, we realize that we can ask God to administer justice or drop the charges.

We can expect God to administer justice when we are wronged

2 Timothy 4:14-15 (NLT): “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said.”

We can drop the charges when we are wronged

2 Timothy 4:16 (NLT): “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them.”

Luke 23:34 (NLT): “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”

Acts 7:59-60 (NLT): “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ He fell to his knees, shouting, ‘Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!’ And with that, he died.”

Conclusion

So, there you go. Since God is holy and loves us immensely, then He MUST punish sin. And, because we know that He will punish sin, we can endure injustice and even drop the charges in the divine court.

Those few words in Deuteronomy 32:35 are profound and have massive implications in how we endure injustice in this life. They tell us how to get past the anger and bitterness and move on while not overriding our desire for justice.

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NLT): “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.”


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Macu ic on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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