Category: Forgiveness

My Vengeance?

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:17a, 18-19)

 I was watching a Met playoff game recently. I wasn’t in a good mood, seeing how poorly they were playing against the Padres. At the conclusion of one inning, what initially appeared to the usual between-innings ads began running. Suddenly, an ad appeared for a congressional candidate in my state. He and some women appeared, and they were extremely angry. Why? Because they said his opponent would take away the right to abortion.

I was angry and infuriated – I yelled and called down God’s judgment.

My wise wife reproved me, asking what right I had to take over God’s role! I accepted her rebuke. I was reminded to be glad that God is slow to anger – he gives people time to repent ……. guess what, God was extremely patient with me! Otherwise, I would have been doomed!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

The hymn “At Even, Ere the Sun Was Set” by Henry Twells gives me good attitude guidance for handling my disagreement with the other side in any debate:

“And none, O Lord, has perfect rest,
For none is wholly free from sin;
And they who fain 1 would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.”
1 gladly and willingly

Twells’ point is not that I am so filled with sin that I dare not express an opinion, but rather that I express my opinion without having a sense of my own moral superiority. If I am on the right side of an issue, I am meant to be a humble expositor of God’s truth. Sometimes I might even be wrong and need to be corrected!

It’s especially easy to be enraged right now. Social media, Twitter, and political ads are not known for calm rational discourse and winsome arguments! Yet, we are called to be irenic 2.
2 irenic – favoring, conducive to, or operating toward peace, moderation, or conciliation

How are we doing in our battle of rage and division versus love and seeking common ground? In our furious view that only we can set things right, how easy it is to forget who is really in charge!

No Condemnation

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)

What a strong declaration! Before we were in Christ, we lived under a sentence of condemnation. If the evidence were presented in court the verdict would be: guilty.

But thanks to the atoning work of Christ that sentence is vacated. Unequivocally and totally. Can’t be undone!

But here’s a problem: what happens if you do feel condemned anyway?

We have an enemy who often attacks us with an overall generalized unlimited sense of condemnation, wanting us to feel like a piece of filth. These allegations come fast and furious in an overwhelming crescendo. The tone is harsh, accusatory, unloving and unkind. Not too long ago I endured a day filled with such a blistering attack.

The nasty voice tells you: Think of when you did ___________ and ________ and ________. It goes on and on. These blanks are tailored to whatever it is you feel the guiltiest about. Then the accusing enemy says: “How dare you think you are forgiven for those ???How can you even call yourself a Christian?? You disgusting creep.”

Thankfully, I had help recovering from the vicious onslaught and regaining a restful heart.

Consider 1 John 3:19-21: This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

First, I saw how “If our hearts condemn us” does not contradict “no condemnation.” Here’s why:
The condemnation we are freed from in Romans 8:1 is the eternal the doom of hell. We have been set free from that and given eternal life.

But even as Christians, there are ways we still can offend God. We are then temporarily guilty. So, our hearts condemn us means there is a specific offense to which God is drawing attention. This is quite different from the bogus shotgun blast that comes from our enemy…of us being a worthless unforgivable piece of garbage.

There is a much better truthful exchange that God offers. An example:
God: You are harboring a real bitter & nasty & unforgiving attitude towards ___________.
Me: Yes, I am. I repent. Forgive me.
God: Christ already paid the penalty for that. You are forgiven.

Being led to this genuine repentance leads to something sweet. After I repent, my heart stops condemning me and my rest and confidence before God are restored. What a freedom repentance brings! With my heart again at rest, I return to the joy of living in freedom and forgiveness. There is no condemnation!