Nov7WedNovember 7, 2018
What is the condition of the human heart, apart from a relationship with God? Your answer to this question profoundly affects the way you view the world, yourself and the Bible.
The prophet Jeremiah describes it as “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus reaffirms this perspective in Mark 7:20-23.
Now I know that can be hard to believe, but have you ever heard of the ‘terrible twos’ or ‘thrashing threes?’ (Yes, our family is experiencing this right now.) It’s a developmental season in which children defy authority and counterattack with yelling, hitting or even biting. Eventually, most children develop skills to temper these emotions and work through conflict without violence – that is until adolescence re-ignites that flame.
Sadly, we as adults, often return to these temperaments. It’s so easy to respond to any perceived injustice with hatred! You can see stories of this nearly every day in our current social and political environment. Without prayerful dependency upon the Lord, it can be easy for me to be pulled into such attitudes too!
However, the good news is that Jesus redeems human hearts! His Spirit then installs within us a brand new operating system which shows us a better way. “Bless those who persecute you.” Romans 12 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but act honorably. Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Overcome evil with good.” That is how we are to respond when the world knows only of hatred.
Now because of our sinful nature, Paul’s instructions quickly come across as weak or foolish. We can be tempted to argue with God's Word and say, "That will never accomplish anything." But God’s grace on display is the very definition of boldness and the precise call of the Christian.
Consider this story about a Christian living in Syria, as recorded by Voice of Martyrs. After giving his life to Jesus, Abraham began to receive an increasing number of death threats. He struggled to know what to do with his fear. One day, as he was using an electrical saw, the blade suddenly popped off and cut him just a few inches below an artery. In that moment, the Lord spoke to him saying, “I am in control of when your life will end. Stop being sacred.”
Shortly thereafter, a man, who had been threatening Abraham, approached his house with violence intentions. Instead of arming himself, Abraham prayed and began to boldly speak the words that God gave to him. Suddenly, the man began to shake. “What do you want?” Abraham asked. “I want salvation” the enemy replied. Then Abraham, armed only with the mercy of Jesus said, “Jesus will forgive you of your sins.” The man was overcome with repentance. Four months later, the man was baptized in Abraham’s church.God’s mercy is more than just a fascinating idea. It’s a powerful weapon which God uses to disarm the depravity of the human heart. A worldly person responds to evil with evil. But a Spirit-filled person, responds with mercy through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Who is most hostile towards you? Perhaps the Lord is inviting you to offer them the gift of mercy in order that they may understand and receive the mercy of Jesus Christ for themselves. Certainly, our world needs more examples of this!