when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from them.
OK. I'm going to ask for total honesty here. I hope you are ready. This is directed at me, too.
Have you ever heard that something happened to a person who has been wicked and spiteful toward you? Some trouble that has befallen them? How did you feel? Did you think to yourself, "Well, they got what they deserved."
Maybe it is someone who has done you a terrible wrong. Did you smile inwardly when you heard of their "fall" or their difficult situation?
Perhaps it is someone who has slandered you so that your church friends and acquaintances are wary of you. They are not sure what to think, in spite of their years of fellowship with you. Maybe this person has treated you badly, and then received an award or promotion that you deserved. How should we react?
In complete honesty, I have to admit that I have been guilty here. In the business world that we operate in, there are some extremely ruthless people, and they have caused us harm in more ways than one. If we allow our human nature to rule, we will want revenge -- we want them to get their just desserts. If we allow our spiritual nature to rule, however, we will react differently.
I think that is one of the marks of a committed Christian -- a character trait that means we don't seek revenge for wrongs that are done to us. In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus goes way further than that:
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?As followers of Christ, we need to make certain that we behave graciously in defeat, and benevolently in victory. If we laugh and mock at our "enemy" in distress, are we putting God in a position of defending that person to whom we show contempt, or even hatred? Solomon says we are (v. 18).
How blessed we are, to have a Father that has not avenged Himself for our sinful ways, and for what we have done to Him!
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.No one has nailed me or you to a cross, for things we did not do. Who can have done more to us, than we have done to Christ? And yet, God loves the whole world -- saved and unsaved.
We are not supposed to be glad when our enemy falls. We need to have compassion on the unsaved, and on carnal Christians -- lest we prove that we are just the same as them. In the words of Walt Kelly's icon, Pogo, "we have met the enemy, and he is us."
How about it? What is our attitude like, when our enemy stumbles? Are we cheering -- proving that we are really just the same as them? Or are we praying for them, as Jesus asked us to do?
I needed this today . . . can someone pass the band-aids so I can take care of my own toes?