Read Proverbs 23 -- 26
As fallen mankind, we think that we must stand up for our rights, fight back against those who treat us unjustly or, when possible, get even by inflicting suffering upon those who offend or wrong us. But, it is a serious sin to be delighted when an enemy suffers and seems to reap what we think he deserves. It is even more dangerous to harbor a secret hatred and a desire to bring about his downfall: Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him (Proverbs 24:17-18). Again we are warned: Fret not yourself because of evil men (24:19).
It is a real victory over the old, selfish, sinful, Adamic nature to live for Jesus, who said: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). The Apostle Paul was quoting Proverbs 25:21-22 when he wrote: If your enemy is hungry, feed them, and if he is thirsty, give him drink . . . and the Lord will reward you. He then added: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:20-21); for, if you do not forgive others . . . neither will your Father forgive you (Matthew 6:15; see also 5:22-24; 18:23-35).
Attitudes of bitterness, revenge, hatred, or ill will toward anyone are self-destructive and are indications that we are not living nearly as close to Christ as we need to be -- or as we think we are. In fact, whosoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. . . . let us not love (merely) in word . . . but in deed and in truth (I John 3:15,18). We are not to regard anyone as an enemy, since we were all created in the image of God and Christ died to save all of us without an exception. Those who have truly accepted the forgiveness of Christ can not retain thoughts of revenge or hatred. Let us pray that those whom we might consider "enemies" may become disciples of Christ. To love the unlovely is a true expression of the love of Christ, who commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, He died for us (Romans 5:8).
No one is ever justified in taking revenge; we are definitely not qualified to be judge, jury, or executioner. We dare not assume the position of God, who said: Vengeance is Mine; I will repay (12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35; Hebrews 10:30). If we are unjustly treated, we should pray for our offender. All feelings of hatred and revenge are instilled by Satan; but the indwelling Holy Spirit enables the Christian to show the love of Christ and be merciful and forgiving rather than hateful toward a wrongdoer.
In reality, our reaction to the unkind behavior of our offenders reveals the true condition of our hearts -- whether they are controlled by the Holy Spirit or by our old sinful nature. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (I John 4:20-21).
Christ Revealed: As the One who rewards those who repay evil with good (Proverbs 25: 21-22). If your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink (Romans 12:20). Jesus said: Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27,35).
Word Studies: 23:20 riotous means gluttonous; 24:26 kiss his lips means a fair answer is as pleasant as a kiss on the lips; 25:9 discover not a secret to another means do not betray another man's confidence; 26:24 dissembleth means harbors deceit.
BPM Staff: Benjamin Wallace · Pray for Wycliffe Bible Translators · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in memory of Rudell Burgin's mother · Country: Senegal (10 million) in western Africa · Major language: French · Religious freedom · 92% Muslim; 4% animism and ancestor worship; 3% Roman Catholic; .1% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Be specific in your prayers (Luke 18:41-43).
Optional Reading: Hebrews 3
Memory Verse for the Week: Revelation 20:14