Category: The Gospel

Out for Revenge?

With God we will gain the victory,
    and he will trample down our enemies.
(Psalm 60:12)

David wrote several Psalms that anticipate how his enemies will get their just desserts. Even so, he never said “revenge is mine.” Because he knows God is the one who will take care of it and pay back.

I had a real problem with a harsh boss I called “the Nazi” when I worked in IT. Looking back, I was wrong to keep fretting about her unfairness. I lost sight of God’s truth: “I will take care of it.” Yes, God always takes care of it; sometimes it’s in this lifetime; other times it won’t be until eternity.

 (Ironically, after I retired, my former colleagues informed me that the harsh boss was marched out of the door by security due to being caught stealing from the company!)

I bet David would have been rooting for my boss to get a quick comeuppance. But I am asked to have a different attitude: Like David, I am to rely on God to set things right, but unlike David I am called to live at peace with my enemies in the meantime. This command is binding for all who believe:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

Here is a command Jesus makes that is even harder:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44)

Yes, Jesus commands something from us that goes beyond what was asked of David: Love your enemies. Be peacemakers even when people have done us evil. Some are impatient with God for dilly-dallying. But God has a great reason for the delay!

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)

How should we react?

Even though we know that the day of reckoning is coming, we can be glad that, so far, God is delaying it. Why?  We now have time to give people a loving warning. We yearn for them to repent. Jesus makes an offer: Repent and believe in me. We are wooing people to freedom and bidding them to accept Jesus’ offer of entering Shalom before it is too late.

Would you Want This Verse on Your Coffee Cup?

coffee mug enemies - Copy

Does this verse sound unkind? Why is it even in the Bible? How does it square with the message of love, love, nothing but love that we hear in our contemporary worship songs? Or line up with this old hymn: “Gentle Jesus meek and mild.”

Two thoughts about this verse:

First, note that the writer of this Psalm is not taking matters into his own hands. We are not talking about a Charles Bronson Death Wish vigilante movie! No, the writer is asking God to take care of it.

As Paul said:

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 12:19).

Second, Jesus is more patient than the Psalmist. God’s wrath is real but Jesus has given it a delay. Jesus has mercifully postponed the sentiment expressed on the coffee cup, by allowing us to live in an age where God’s grace, love, patience and mercy are triumphing over his judgment.

Peter expresses it beautifully:

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)

We want to respond to this news by steering people to the love of Christ and the offer of repentance, forgiveness and salvation that he makes. Yet, we also give a loving warning by letting people know that the patience of God really will end one day and then it will be too late. So we don’t stop pleading and persuading.

Today, you are in one of two camps: You are either very thankful for the redemption Jesus accomplished for you, or you are receiving a loving warning to respond to God’s offer before it is too late.