9 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Isaiah 15:1–18:7
Galatians 1:1-24
Psalm 58:1-11
Proverbs 23:12

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Galatians 1:23-24 (NLT): “All they knew was that people were saying, ‘The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!’ And they praised God because of me.”

Reflections from Scripture:

In Galatians 1:23-24, we read that Paul was talking about his conversion. Before Jesus saved him, he persecuted the church. He drug Christians off to jail regularly. And he did so with zeal because he believed he was serving God.

But, when he was gloriously saved, word began to get around. People were starting to say, “Hey! I heard that Saul has been saved and is now preaching the Gospel! Those he used to hate are now his brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Isn’t God wonderful!!!”

Friend, it is so easy to pray against someone who is harming us. It is so easy to pray that God would repay them for what they are doing. It’s so easy to spend a prolonged time in God’s presence elaborating on all of the injustices that are being done.

If you read Psalm 58 today, you will hear the psalmist elaborating on what his enemies are doing to him. You’ll also hear him ask for God to exercise justice upon his enemies.

The Psalms are the language of the heart. So, if someone has hurt us and we feel angry or desire justice, we should express it to the Lord. Besides being open with the Lord, it is also therapeutic to simply get it off our chest. So, there is a benefit in praying this way.

But, generally speaking, God doesn’t get any glory when we do that. If others listen to our prayers where we unload our cares upon Him and call Him to bring judgment on those who have hurt us, it doesn’t draw them to the Savior. It doesn’t exalt our great God and give Him glory.

What gives God glory? Just read Galatians 1:23-24. God is praised when He changes someone’s heart!

Galatians 1:23-24 (NLT): “All they knew was that people were saying, ‘The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!’ And they praised God because of me.”

So, while there is a time to pray against someone who is hurting us, consider that it might be better to pray for them. Pray that God would give them a change of heart. Pray that God would draw them to Himself.

In other words, don’t focus primarily on asking God to stop the injustice against you. Instead, pray that God would bless the one who is mistreating you. Take the focus off of you and put it onto them. Turn your negative prayers into positive ones.

Friend, if and when God answers your prayers and the one who is mistreating you gets a heart change from the Lord, you will have more than enough reason to praise Him!

Luke 6:27-28 (NLT): “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” 

One more thing…

What I am addressing in this post is the heart attitude of the one who is being mistreated. This topic is a huge topic that is multi-faceted without the space or time to deal with it comprehensively in this post. 

For instance, some mistreatments are so big that they cannot be ignored. So while we continue to love and pray for the offender, we may feel the need to confront them or ask someone to step in to help or tell the authorities. 

This thing called “following Jesus” is often a balancing act that requires the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit within us and a keen grasp of the Scriptures to live it.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will be hurt by others in this life, and there will be times that I hurt others. If we all held onto hurts and refused to forgive, we would be a planet full of people who were angry at each other. But You have called us to love and forgive even those that we would deem our enemies. I cannot do this, but You in me can. So I submit to Your leadership and ask that You help me love when it doesn’t come naturally. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

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 GR Stocks on Unsplash