Last week, we considered a right and wrong way to respond to God’s grace and love. Rejoice and bring Him glory or have a disruptive attitude towards those seeking, or in the desperate need to know Jesus and experience His grace. Well, I would hope that we would spend our time and energy seeking to bring God glory, serving and loving others as He has commanded us. (Luke 13:13; John 13:34-35) There is no question that all people need Jesus to transform their lives. How often do we know that truth and are more than happy to appropriate it for ourselves except when it comes to those we do not get along with are more than happy to see them suffer? Too harsh? No, not really. Just an uncomfortable truth we often world rather ignore. Let’s consider this wisdom from Proverbs, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displeases Him, and He turns away His wrath from him.” (Proverbs 24:17-18)
We all have conflict because we live in the fallen world surrounded by sinners of every kind. However when difficulty, hurt, struggle, tragedy, or judgment comes on those who we oppose, we are not to get an attitude about it. I mentioned in a recent study how we love to see the bad guys in a movie or book get their “come-up-ins” in the end. Why? Because it might just resolve the tension. We feel that the injustice we see in the story and in their suffering find some solace. Yet, I do not think this is how we are to respond to another’s misfortune. Remember, we are to love and bless our enemies.
Jesus says clearly, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44) Here is a ruff rub for us to consider. What would we do for someone who is suffering that we loved deeply? Without question, we would help them. We would see if we could alleviate their pain or pressure. At least I hope we would; we are Christ’s representative after all. Even if someone has purposefully hurt us? Yes. You may be wondering, “But what about all the wrong they have done?” That is a great question. Paul may have an answer for us from his letter to the Romans as he makes application from Deuteronomy 32:35, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19–21) Even if someone has brought on themselves hurt, we are to be the instrument of God’s great love. Rejoicing when our enemy falls will not please the Lord. But coming to the aid of His creation, whom He loves, when they are in need is not only morally and ethically correct but a divine call on the child of God. When we love those who fall, we not only bless and serve God but those who desperately need to see how real He is. And surprise! He uses us to make himself known through us: what a great privilege, calling, and responsibility. Remember that blessing, not vengeance, is ours to give and give freely.