The Lord’s design for His people is that they be “knit together in love” (Col 2:2). “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor 12:26). We cannot serve God and be separate from people, but rather we are called to serve others. The power of love was such a firm purpose of our Lord that He described this characteristic, above all others, as the identifying mark of His people. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Only the gospel has the power to bring Jew and Gentile, slave and freeman, the rich and the poor into the same local congregation and make that group a close-knit, loving family (Gal 3:28). When men are humbled and see the gospel as their only identity, then educational differences, racial differences and any other man-made distinctions will be laid aside as rubbish—they view their brethren not just as equals, but as better than themselves. It is in this spirit that service to others becomes a privilege! “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).
The Ideal versus the Real
Have you been a member of a church that abounded in love for each other? There have been times in my life where the congregation that I attended was approaching this spirit of service and love. I have also learned that it is a great challenge to find and maintain that spirit. There are so many pitfalls and temptations that can easily turn a church from a place of edification to a place of discouragement. Consider some common problems that we face in working with our brethren.
On the Outside Looking In
It is crucial that every member understands that he truly belongs and is cared for. When a Christian believes that he is an outsider among the brethren he assembles with, he becomes vulnerable to many temptations. It is easy in that situation to give into jealousy, bitterness or to be overwhelmed by guilt (2 Cor 2:7-11). Good people can become careless and fail to see the needs around them, especially when they are satisfied with the associations they have.
Certain Visitors Not Welcome!
A few years ago I was working with a couple that showed great interest in the gospel. They started attending services where I preached and also began a home Bible study with me. It was not very long until they privately began referring to the church as “the clique.” This concerned me, since I had a good relationship with them. At the end of one service I decided to step back and observe the interaction of others with this couple. At the dismissal of services, I watched as this couple waited for some time near the back of the auditorium at the place where everyone would exit. My heart ached as I observed how on that day very few spoke to them, while most Christians were rushing to visit with the ones they always talked to after services. My brethren, while not realizing or meaning to, communicated very clearly that this couple was not welcome.
The Haves and the Have-Nots
The divide between those who are “rich in this world’s goods” and those who are not can provide a great challenge to a local group. It is far easier to associate only with those who have your tastes and can do the things that you do. It also is very easy to look down upon those who have less and even harden your heart toward them. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).
I have seen churches where groups of couples go on trips to ski resorts, cruises and other expensive trips. It is not wrong to do this, nor should one stop this because others cannot afford it. However, it is important to make every effort to do things that will also allow you to associate with those Christians who have less than you! If you exclusively associate with the rich, then you do not have the heart of our Lord (Mt 11:5).
Attitudes from Parents to Children
Unfortunately children too can display a cruel tendency to exclude and even punish those who are different. Christian parents must remain alert for these attitudes, challenge them and correct them. What a great lesson for parents to teach their children—giving to “unlovable” people the love that they need. It is in the home that we teach our children to include others that are “difficult” in our activities because that is exactly what our Lord wants us to do! “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Mt 5:46).
Sadly, I have also seen where a mother became bitter towards another couple or even towards a child, and in both spoken and in unspoken actions encouraged their children to snub and exclude other children. It is a far greater hurt for a parent to consistently see their child excluded from group plans than if that same action was taken towards them as adults. It becomes very difficult for a parent to instill faith in their child when the actions of others are so contrary to the gospel of Christ. When this scenario occurs and is not corrected, that congregation will likely lose an entire generation of young people.
Putting a Wet Blanket over the Assembly
When problems arise in a local church in the relationships between Christians, it is crucial that the leadership address these issues with haste. When these problems are ignored, they will only grow until the assemblies of the church become stressful and strained, and in some cases contrary to the encouragement it ought to be.
The early church successfully faced challenges like this. The neglect of the Greek widows in the church at Jerusalem was quickly recognized and corrected (Acts 6:1-7). The apostles were quick to point out occasions of neglect and preference by strongly rebuking and correcting these attitudes (Phil 4:2-3; 1 Cor 11:20-22).
Let love reign in the place you assemble! Why not make plans now to include a brother that is not in your normal group of associates? You will find that the more you give to and involve others, the greater the blessing you will receive.
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by Larry Rouse
Over the years I have witnessed the reactions of Christians to the terrible experience of being divorced from their mate. In most of these cases their mate had participated in numerous affairs and the faithful Christian tried but failed to restore their loved one. They then applied the only scriptural grounds for divorce the Lord gave and put away their unfaithful mate. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9)” While these Christians were indeed innocent of the breaking up their marriage, they now had to face the very difficult task of rebuilding their lives and seeking to heal their wounded spirit.
Regardless of the cause of the hurt, whether it be divorce, death, betrayal, or some other cause, this presents an opportunity for Satan to take advantage of us in our pain (2 Cor 2:11). This is a major challenge to our faith. Will we let our emotions, and thus our flesh, direct us in the ways of the world, or will we walk by faith? Will we let God or our hurt lead us? The obvious choice is easy to recognize, but very difficult to practice.
Learn to Give to God the Things You Cannot Change
Satan’s greatest success comes when a Christian is overburdened. Over time he will seek relief from his burden that often will involve sin. Jesus knows that we have a “load limit” and He pleads with us to let Him carry the burden that we cannot. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)” Jesus gives us responsibilities that we can handle! When we stay within the “yoke” given by our Lord, then our faith will grow and our wounded spirit will heal.
We need to apply a simple bit of wisdom and distinguish between God’s bearable burden and the unbearable burdens we are tempted to carry. This truth is well stated in this common quote: “"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Consider this short list of things that fall into the category of things we cannot change. I cannot change: the past, what is right and wrong, death, and the weather. There are many other things that could be listed, but one other practical, but major, item is this: I cannot change another person against his will. If we fail to recognize these things and then refuse to give them to God, we will, in time, become a “burnt-out” disciple, full of cynicism and doubt. Why not trust God and give these things to Him?
Learn to Slam the Door on Self-Pity
Have you ever heard this children’s song: “"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I'm going out and eat worms"? This is a perfect description of one having a “pity-party.” Have you ever reasoned like this: "People are talking about me. Nobody understands my feelings! There is no one on earth who has suffered as me. Nobody cares. I do not deserve this."? If so, then you are walking down the road of self-pity and if you are not careful it will run, and then ruin, your life.
Great men of God at times struggled with these feelings. Elijah, after a physically and emotionally exhausting day in which he defeated the prophets of Baal, received word of a death threat from Jezebel the queen (1 Kings 19:1). The emotions of Elijah caused him to flee into the wilderness and to plead to God for his own death. He then claimed that he was the only one left that cared about God and there was no more need to try. “And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers! … 10So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:4b, 10) Elijah allowed his emotions to create a “reality” that was not real. The Lord made sure that the prophet got some food and a needed rest, and then proceeded to tell him about the 7,000 who were faithful in Israel (1 Kings 19:18). God then sent him back to work!
Please resist the temptation to withdraw and count all brethren as unfaithful because of your experience with certain men. You must fight the temptation to conclude that you can read the minds of others and thus write them off because of your “instincts.” In many ways you will become just like the ones who hurt you in these kinds of unrighteous judgments (John 7:24). When you withdraw from brethren that love you into the cold and isolated world of self-pity, then things will only get worse. It has been said that self-pity is a slow and very painful form of suicide.
Learn the Power of Thanksgiving
When we open our eyes to what God has done and is doing for us, then we will not make ourselves the “center of the universe.” “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)” Which will you choose -- thanksgiving or self-pity? The 3 “L’s” of self-pity are these: “What I have Lost, What I Lack, and How I am Limited.” So much of our disposition depends upon what we choose to focus on. As one man related “I complained because I had no shoes until I met someone who had no feet." In contrast the thankful man sees the blessings of God and speaks with the apostle Paul saying: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)”
A man of faith will be optimistic and full of strength. A Biblical faith will teach you how to deal with the issues of life and especially how to overcome adversity. This stand will make you a blessing in the lives of others rather than an isolated cynic. Do you really believe in God? It is my prayer that you will let your thoughts become conformed to God’s thoughts. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)”
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On the night of His betrayal and in the very shadow of the cross itself, Jesus called his disciples together and expressed a strong desire of His heart. “Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”” (Luke 22:15-16) What made this particular Passover so important was that Jesus Himself would become the fulfillment of the Passover lamb the very next day as He would shed his blood for our salvation. Also, all disciples in every generation, would remember this event with Jesus as they partake of the Lord’s Supper in the kingdom of God. When Jesus instituted this supper after partaking of the Passover, He was giving instructions that all who would ever love the Lord would also observe this supper with a strong fervor.
The early Christians were taught by the Apostle Paul, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)
The occasion was a very serious one. Those who partake of this supper without a heart attuned to the meaning of Jesus’ death and the great commitment that it demands, are in fact committing a great act of ingratitude and irreverence towards God, as well as hardening their own hearts during a time where it should have been made tender. “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). You can also show this irreverence in choosing not to attend.
The early church, through the instructions of the Apostles, made the Lord’s Supper a centerpiece of their worship. On the Day of Pentecost, after Peter had preached the gospel and 3,000 were baptized, we read about the careful instruction these new disciples were given. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)
When the apostle Paul came to Troas, he met with the church there on the first day of the week and partook of the Lord’s Supper with them. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” (Acts 20:7) Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day that Jesus was raised from the dead, the day that the Lord’s Church was established (Acts 2), and is the day that early Christians assembled to remember our Lord in this supper. As a Christian, when the first day of the week comes around, one should make plans and will give diligence to be with fellow Christians to remember our Lord.
How should we as Christians treat other events that would cause us to miss an assembly with Christians? Let me share with you a story. In the summer of 2001 I attended a very public news conference in downtown Birmingham where it was announced that a new Marathon was to be held in my hometown, the Mercedes Marathon. Running is my favorite sport and I had always wanted to be able to run a marathon in Birmingham but was unable to, since in the past, previous marathons were run on Sunday. I approached the man who would be in charge of the event and asked him on what day would the marathon be held. He replied that it would always be on a Sunday in February. My heart dropped and I knew that any future marathons for me would have to be in another town on a Saturday.
Did I make the right decision?
I have always believed that in serving the Lord, the priorities in my life are shown in decisions like these. In the Sunday morning assembly I am not only meeting with the saints for my edification, but the Lord Himself is there as well. He is the unseen presence when I sing, pray and partake of that sacred supper. Could I miss this occasion to participate in any sporting event? I cannot imagine any faithful Christian allowing worldly things like these to take a greater priority.
In the early 1980’s there was a movie called “Chariots of Fire” that depicted a true story of a man who qualified to run in the Olympics, but discovered on the boat to the event that he would have to run a race on a Sunday. Under enormous pressure and public scrutiny, He refused to participate. While his reasoning that “Sunday is the Sabbath” was wrong, I did agree that his stand was correct. The world did not understand his stand and subjected him to ridicule and scorn, but those today who understand the nature of faith can identify with his stand.
Are those who wear the name of Christ today becoming ashamed of such a stand?
It is becoming more common to hear of Christians missing “just one service” to participate in local races, soccer games and other voluntary events. Sometimes they are raising money for a worthy cause and sometimes they are there to be with friends. Often family members and friends are invited to watch the game or assist in some other way. Those who are raising money often have websites, e-mails and handouts proclaiming what they are doing in advance and asking those to contribute money and to be in partnership with them.
Could not these things be done on another day? Going to another city to run a race on another day, or simply asking friends to donate to the cause without running the event are easy solutions among others. Our Children need to be taught the importance of priorities and miss games that conflict with the “Lord’s team.”
One thing is for sure, your decision makes a statement. The more public that decision means the more public your statement is. Let this be what you proclaim “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
by Larry Rouse
We do not forget great turning points in their lives. It may be the memory of meeting and falling in love with the one that eventually would become our mate. It could be the loss of a parent whose memory continues to inspire us to serve God and never quit. These and other critical points in our lives should both humble us and inspire us to draw more closely to the God that provides for us beyond what we could ever know (Rom 8:28).
The greatest turning point for any of us is the day that we entered into fellowship with the God of heaven. This was a point of our turning from our sins and finding the forgiveness that makes a relationship with God possible (Acts 3:19, 26).
I often think back to the situations that led me to that decision to turn to Jesus Christ. It is good for me to remember the rejoicing and the new direction that I found in my life. It was like I myself had died and come back to life (Rom 6:2-5). This turning point transformed my life and led me down paths that I never thought I would take. To this very day my life is filed with newness and an awareness that my future paths are determined by a living faith which looks for doors of opportunity that the Lord may place before me.
Why our memory is important
Over time we can drift from our relationship with God to the point that we are caught up in a mindless and heartless “going through the motions.” A living faith must continually be growing, adding, and fighting or it is dead. Peter points out why some fail to add to their faith. “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins (2 Peter 1:9). What do you remember about your forgiveness?
A time of darkness and hopelessness
One cannot come to God without first seeing their need. I can remember the masquerade of living in the world and giving the appearance of happiness. The world did provide a series of escapes and highs that left my basic needs unmet. The world’s “purpose” was found in short term pleasure that changed depending upon the desires of the moment (1 John 2:15-17).
The world also had a “carrot and stick” approached to keeping you “in line.” If you were to be accepted by others in the world, then you must accept that there are no real standards and no real “truth.” I learned very quickly that in order to have associations with some people I had to accept their “personal lifestyle” and even become a partaker in it. “In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:4).
It did not take me very long to realize that a life with no standards is a life with no purpose. Also I came to realize that those in the world who claimed to be my friends, were in fact ruled by the “god of this age”, and were walking in darkness too (2 Cor 4:4). I sadly knew that they would discard me in a moment.
The bright light of a living faith
Within my own heart I knew that God existed and that He ultimately could erase the pain of an aimless life if I could but find Him. I remember praying a simple prayer to God on a beautiful starry night. “God, please let me come to know You.” This was a serious prayer for light. As I would come to know later, our God will always answer such a prayer (John 7:17, Acts 16:9-10).
My search began with a daily reading of the Bible. As I read, I came upon verses that deeply touched me as they attested to the power of a living faith. The optimism of Paul in the face of adversity astounded me.” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). This was a verse that I read and reread, marveling at how real purpose and joy can be found regardless of outward circumstances. Was it possible that I might one day have such a faith?
The day of my death
As I continued to read the Bible, I came to see how men received Jesus into their lives. My reading of the book of Acts helped me see how people like me were able to turn from the world to serve a living God. Conversion was no casual process. It was a death! “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Without exception I found that men that would come to Christ had to surrender all. Those at Ephesus that became Christians burned their books of magic and gave up the practice of it which had an enormous monetary consequence for them (Acts 19:19-20). Did they complain about this? No, they would speak as the apostle Paul would about the things he gave up for Christ. “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8).
It was the love of God that showed me that I needed to deal with the issue of my own sin before God. Jesus died on a Roman cross to provide the only possible sacrifice for my sin. It was good news indeed to know that God has provided that which I could never provide on my own. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).
How was I to receive this free gift? As I read through the book of Acts I plainly saw the answer. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… (Acts 2:38). “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Every time one came to believe and turn to Christ in the book of Acts, they were baptized immediately (Acts 8:34-39, 16:30-34).
The day of my baptism was the day that I died. It was a day similar to that of the prodigal son who, because of an utter disgust over his aimless life, came back to his father with nothing to offer but his willingness to be a slave. He just wanted to be with the father that loved him! “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19). God responded to my death just like the father of the prodigal did, with a full restoration of fellowship and great rejoicing (Luke 15:20-24).
Why I need to remember
What a joy it is to remember the escape from a terrible slavery to a present life in the grace of God! I need to remember both the darkness of the past and the power of a life with God. “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 5:20-23).
What do you remember?
How is it possible for Satan to defeat and capture a child of God who had previously escaped his grasp? Satan is exposed in the Bible for the deceiver that he is. Jesus described him as having “no truth in him” and as being a “liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). While it is inconceivable for a Christian to ever imagine himself as willingly placing his life under the control of the “evil one,” Satan, in fact, has a strong track record of accomplishing this very thing. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan’s goal is to cut off the word of God from your heart and then drive you by your emotions. The Bible frames the struggle in this way: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:12-13). Over the years I have witnessed many of my brethren destroyed in this manner, and the vast majority were overcome with bitterness and anger.
There is a place for anger! When Jesus asked a straightforward question and received no reply, He looked into their hearts and responded in this way: “And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts…”(Mark 3:5). My Lord was angry, but my Lord never sinned. There is a place for anger when it is under control and directed by the principles of God’s word. “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27). We need to be angry when we see sin! But always remember this warning “do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” because a failure to do so will give the devil a place in your heart. And be assured, he will take advantage of it.
Why do so many of my brethren not take uncontrolled anger seriously? I know of too many men that laugh about their temper and others who laugh with them saying “that’s just the way he is.” What does the Bible say? “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Does this verse get your attention? My eternal life is no laughing matter and anything that could come between me and my God has my attention.
Consider the works of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Did you notice the “anger family” in this passage? While we hear many good sermons on immorality and false doctrine, do we hear that same emphasis on uncontrolled anger? Remember “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Bible plainly tells us of the difficulty of controlling our anger. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Moses was commended by God above all others for his ability to control his spirit (meekness – Numbers 12:2 ASV), but in a moment of anger he spoke rashly and thus sinned. “They angered Him also at the waters of strife, So that it went ill with Moses on account of them; Because they rebelled against His Spirit, So that he spoke rashly with his lips” (Psalm 106:32-33). While Moses went to the ultimate Promised Land of God, heaven, he was not able to enter the physical Promised Land because of this one moment of anger.
When we begin to dwell on our hurts and nourish our anger, we are placing ourselves firmly in the hands of Satan. Have you ever tried to reason with an angry person? When you give in to a life of anger you also give up your ability to reason. “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Proverbs 18:19). The corrupt politician and the false teacher specialize in slander designed to shut down the thinking process. There are many Christians that I have known who, because of their anger towards a man, have quit serving God. What sense does that make? It is like getting mad at the dog and kicking the cat! In short your anger will make you behave as crazy person, unwilling to listen or reason, and ready to fight anyone or anything that gets in the way of your desire for revenge.
Local churches can been devastated by just one man who plants seeds of bitterness. We are warned in the scriptures to be “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). Bitter people often try to build their own personal kingdoms that one has described as “the fellowship of the miserable.” You will be received and flattered by this group as long as you hate whoever the leader hates. I personally have been attacked by such groups for doing nothing more than showing kindness to someone that was an object of another’s anger.
Bitter people will be lost if they do not repent. The greatest evangelists for Satan today are those Christians who plant the seeds of hatred in the church of our Lord.
In time bitter people will burn themselves out and their kingdoms will disband. Sometimes the bitter person will repent and return to the grace of God. Sadly, however, they often are unable to reverse the effects of the angry seeds they planted in the hearts of those that were closest to them. It is in the lives of their friends, and especially in their children, that the harshest fruits of planted bitterness will be seen.
There is a better way. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). You will never regret releasing the desire for vengeance upon those who have hurt you. Our God has pleaded with us in this regard: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
Do you really believe in God? Are you really a Christian, willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Look carefully at the specific footsteps our God has placed before us: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). The next time you are tempted to inflict punishment upon your enemy, I hope you will remember the pleading voice of God where He said “vengeance is mine.” If you really trust, God then you will let it go. Please do not allow Satan to do his work through you.
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