2 Corinthians 11.1-15
The Most Powerful Force in the World
Another Monday morning. Jeannie would have to pray. She and Sue were the only two women on a job that was hard enough without Sue’s constant antagonism. It was made worse by the fact that, as far as Jeannie knew, she had never done anything to warrant her hatred.
The cheating began just a few months into their marriage. Mary had cried, yelled, spied on him, and threatened to leave. Each time Joe would tell her he was sorry and promise to break off the affair. But before long, she’d overhear a conversation, someone would call and hang up, or Joe would stay out all night and she’d know.
Karen’s husband worked hard. He came home every night. He paid the bills. But week-ends were a nightmare. Before the sun set on Friday, Bill was well into a bottle of bourbon and the more he drank, the angrier he got. More than once he had pulled out his gun and waved it around, even pointing it at Karen.
Each workday Jeannie determined to be kind to Sue, in spite of her cursing and cheap shots. But there were days when she went home in tears and cried out to God for another job.
Then one day after a particularly angry outburst, Sue stopped and just stared at Jeannie. “What is wrong with you? Everyday you come back and treat me right no matter what I say or do!” What followed were tears, but this time they were Sue’s and not Jeannie’s, as she poured out a story of heartbreak and abuse. Eventually, she accepted an invitation to attend church with Jeannie where she found the grace to let God heal her heart.
Ten or so years into their tumultuous marriage, Mary signed up to take a class at the local community college. One of her instructors, a believer, took an interest in her and, eventually, led her to the Lord.
Mary started going to Bible studies, learning what it meant to be a godly wife, and one day she showed up at our Biblical Counseling Center. She learned about prayer and forgiveness and God’s grace. She decided that while she had biblical grounds for divorce, she wanted to stay in her marriage and show her husband God’s love.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the change in Mary eventually encouraged her husband to come to church with her where he, too, came to know her Savior and with God’s help changed his life.
One week-end Karen prayed in their bedroom while Bill smashed things in another room. By the time he came into the bedroom he had his gun. He started accusing Karen of talking to another man. He threatened to kill her, then turn the gun on himself. When he pointed the gun at her, she heard herself say, “I’m not worried about me, honey. If you do, I’ll go straight to heaven, but I’m worried about you.”
Bill dropped the gun and crumpled to the floor. He sat there for a long time, before he asked, “Do you think God can help somebody like me?” That was 20 years ago. Today Karen and Bill have a marriage most people would envy.
Note: I’m not recommending women stay in a marriage where their health or safety is at risk. Frankly, if I had been counseling Karen I would have told her to call the police the first time he pulled out a gun. But Karen says that she never really felt at risk and, in the sovereignty of God, He worked in a different way.
These women prayed. They forgave. They walked in love. They demonstrated God’s patience and forgiveness. None of them did it perfectly, but they trusted a Perfect Savior.
God has given us a powerful weapon for overcoming evil. When we’re sinned against the temptation is to fight back with anger, bitterness, gossip, withholding love and affection, and dozens of other sinful ways. But those are not the weapons God has commanded and empowered.
Today’s passage says:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
These are coals of conviction. Love and kindness will often soften the hardest hearts. But no matter how the other person responds, God has commanded us to do good for them. And the promise that follows is, “the Lord will reward you.” Paul quoted this passage in Romans 12 when he said:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).
We are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! And we overcome evil?—with good!
Not every story ends like Jeannie’s, Mary’s, or Karen’s but God honors and blesses us when we take Him at His Word and live obediently.
Sometimes that means changing jobs while we continue to pray for a former co-worker. Sometimes we must call the police, as we continue to pray for and forgive an abusive husband. Loving and overcoming evil with good doesn’t always mean the removal of all consequences, but our heart attitude is to be one of love, grace and forgiveness.
The love of God is the most powerful force in the world!
Today’s Other Readings:
He Wants Your Heart!
Verse 13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”
God is not impressed with our “praise-the-Lords,” our Christian yard signs, or our involvement in religious activities. Neither is He impressed with our Bible knowledge or our pious-sounding prayers.
Many of those things are good. We should have an attitude of praise toward God. We should be willing to proclaim our faith. We should be faithful to learn more about God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer. But none of that matters to Him, unless He first has our hearts.
The God Who Loves, Sees, Provides and More
This psalm is actually a song of praise. It begins “O God, my heart is steadfast …” That word “steadfast” means to be stable or fixed or to be in an upright state. We can praise Him no matter what the circumstances if our hearts are properly fixed on Him.
But that doesn’t just happen. We must purposely choose to focus on and meditate on His truths. We must not allow our circumstances to consume our thoughts and attitudes. Instead, we must let God’s Word be the lens through which we view our circumstances, beginning with a proper understanding of who God is.
Throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, God would reveal Himself to His people through His names. In Genesis 16 when Hagar ran away because of Sarai’s harsh treatment, God revealed Himself to her as the God who sees the needs of His people and responds. In Genesis 22 He revealed Himself to Abraham as the God who provides. He revealed Himself in other places as our peace, our Shepherd, and our righteousness. His various names represent some of the character qualities of God.
God’s character is revealed to us in other ways, as well. God through the Apostle John told us that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4.8). We see that fact revealed throughout the Bible as we see Him delivering, providing for, extending grace, and willingly sending His Son to die in our place (Jn. 3.16).
In what area are you struggling to keep your heart steadfast or fixed on Him? Have your circumstances caused you to doubt God’s love or, at least, His love for you? Do you feel like someone is treating you unfairly and “getting away with it” causing you to doubt whether God sees or cares? Do you doubt that God can use you because of your past or your family? Do you feel alone, abandoned by your family or your spouse? Where are you struggling?
Take some time; get to know God better. Meditate on who He is. Learn about His essential character.
Go to Bible Gateway, a free online concordance, or use another concordance to look up key words and names. Or get a book about the attributes of God like It’s Not Fair!
by Wayne Mack or The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink.
2 Corinthians 11.1-15:
Godly Jealousy & False Teachers
In verses 2-3 Paul was writing to his children in the faith:
2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The Great Commission (Matt. 28.19-20) says:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”
We, too, should have that “godly jealously” that compels us to watch over those God has allowed us to help disciple and grow in the faith. It’s all too easy for that “angel of light” (Satan) to deceive with “another gospel” which is not the true gospel of Christ (Gal. 1.6-10). And some of those “gospels” which are out there today are very appealing. They promise perpetual health and prosperity, along with “experiences” which the flesh craves. The problem is when they ultimately don’t deliver, and they don’t, many lose heart and walk away from God altogether.
Paul saw false teaching and false teachers as such a threat to the church that he said:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1.6-9).
That’s pretty strong language! All the more reason to read and study God’s Word for ourselves. False teachers often know the Bible, too, but they take it out of context or twist it just enough to distort the real meaning.
Others regard the Word of God lightly, throw aside the rules of good Bible interpretation, claim it was only applicable for another day and time, or water down its truths and commands into positive suggestions instead of the uncompromising Word of our Holy God.
We must be good Bereans (Acts 17.11) if we are to recognize false teachers and teachings when they come our way.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about what happens when we turn our backs on God, people who claim to have gone to heaven, the test of genuine faith and more.
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Featured resources on Kindle or in books:
It’s Not Fair!: Finding Hope When Times Are Tough by Wayne Mack:
When we are tempted to complain about our lot in life, thinking God is not treating us fairly, understanding the attributes of God can help us put things in perspective. “It’s Not Fair!” can help you rest in God’s attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, love, and justice.
The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink:
“The Attributes of God” has become a Christian classic in our time. Unlike other more devotional treatments, Pink considers the Biblical evidence for each of God’s attributes and gives in-depth insight into His character and very nature. The reader leaves each chapter both exalting God and better understanding “Him with whom we have to do.”
Attributes include: God’s solitariness, Decrees, Knowledge, Supremacy, Sovereignty, Immutability, Holiness, Power, Faithfulness, Goodness, Patience, Grace, Mercy, Love, Wrath, and Contemplation.
The Attributes of God Volume 1 by A.W., Tozer:
God’s Infinitude, Immensity, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, Grace, Omnipresence, Immanence, Holiness, Perfection all answer, what is God like? For A.W. Tozer, there is no question more important. In fact, Tozer’s desire to know God and His fullness consumed his entire life and ministry.
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