What do you value more—your rights when abused and mistreated or the eternal destiny of your abuser? Like Christ we are called to love our enemies.
Ezra 1 & 2
Loving Your Enemies
Paul’s Eternal Focus
What an incredible example of boldness in the face of intense persecution! Paul had just been beaten by a mob. It says they were, “seeking to kill him.” After he was rescued, he asked the soldiers if he could address his abusers and then he began to share his testimony and to prepare their hearts for the gospel.
Like Christ who died for us when we were His enemies, he was more concerned about their spiritual destiny than any harm done to him.
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5.44).
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2.3-4).
Like Paul and Jesus, we need to resolve to keep our focus, not on any wrongs done to us, but on others’ need for a Savior!
That doesn’t mean that those who abuse physically, sexually, or in any other way should be allowed to continue illegal or immoral behavior. But even when the right thing to do is to report a crime or in some other way allow the abuser to suffer the consequences of his actions, the focus of our hearts should be eternal, forgiving them, trusting God in our own lives, and praying for their salvation.
Today’s Other Readings:
Ezra 1 & 2:
God the Author of Human History
The book of Ezra picks up where 2 Chronicles left off, with a pagan king named Cyrus sending the captives who wanted to return, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
Verse 1 says, “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled …”
God was orchestrating the course of human events. History is His-story.
And just as God is in control of the events of human history, He is in control of our individual histories, as well.
Because I’m “in the Son”
Verse 7 says, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon You for You will answer me.”
Why does God answer our prayers?
I heard someone say she used to think, “God loves me, and therefore He answers my prayers.” Then she said, “But now I realize that God loves His Son and because I am in the Son and God loves the Son, He answers my prayers.” Everything is based on who we are “in Christ”!
Verse 16, “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
We all need the accountability of other believers who care about us and will encourage, exhort and rebuke us when we need it. Otherwise, it’s easy for us to “wander away from the way of understanding” and not even realize it. Many a believer has ended up ship-wrecked because of it!
In the next few days, we’ll look at how to love your how to live and grow in our anti-Christian culture, what to do when you feel like your purse has a hole in it, and the biblical grounds for divorce. Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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Featured Resources for those who have suffered abuse:
Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.
Redemption is not a step-oriented recovery book; it’s story-oriented and Bible-anchored. It unfolds the back-story of redemption in Exodus to help Christians better understand how Christ redeems us from the slavery of abuse, addiction and assorted trouble and restores us to our created purpose, the worship of God. Readers will discover that the reward of freedom is more than victory over a habitual sin or release from shame; it is satisfaction and rest in God himself.
In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Navigator author Jerry Bridges began a lengthy Bible study on God’s sovereignty. The revelations changed his life. In Trusting God, Jerry shares the scope of God’s power to help you come to know Him better, have a relationship with Him, and trust Him more—even when unjust things happen.