Have you ever had ill thoughts about someone? Ever made up your mind not to do something because that would be helping another (not so nice) person out?
If you’ve answered no to those two questions, go on about your day and skip this post.
For those of us who would like to hide our ill intentions, but are trying hard to deal with those negative thoughts, keep reading.
As I read this morning’s section from Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word Day by Day, I kept thinking that it didn’t apply to me today. Today was not a day when I feel particularly unforgiving. The prayer was based on Luke 23:34 and Daniel 9:9.
The main point was Jesus cried out to God the Father asking for forgiveness for his persecutors. He said, “they do not know what they are doing.”
If Jesus in all his perfection can ask God to forgive them, how much more should I be able to see my sin and ask the same of those who do me harm? Maybe they don’t know what they are doing.
I was reminded of James 2:13, mercy triumphs over judgment.
The sad thing is, when I read through this it didn’t strike a chord like it should have. No heart strings were pulled. These words were just words.
However, My Teacher was not done with me yet (and I hope it is a long time before He is:)
As I moved into studying Yahweh Tsuri (The Lord is my Rock), I began jotting down notes about the passages I was reading.
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. (1 Samuel 24:1-13 ESV)
- David could have killed Saul in the cover of the dark cave, but he didn’t.
- David recognized Saul’s authority as given to him by God, and therefore respected God’s choice of leader.
- David was obedient to what was right though his men encouraged him that God must have meant for David to kill Saul. He didn’t jump at the chance to harm his enemy, but showed mercy.
- In a similar way, God looks at me and though He could -and should- end my life, he shows mercy.
He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22:2-4 ESV)
- This is where David calls God ‘My Rock’ using these words: refuge, shield, horn of salvation, stronghold, savior.
- In verse 3, after David says God is his savior, he says, “you save me from violence.” Wow.
- I don’t have to repay evil with evil.
I am in awe right now. I completely missed that “you save me from violence” quote the first time I read it. Thus reminding me how important it is to read and re-read the Bible over and over again.
Did you miss it too?
I realized that if God is my refuge, my rock; if I trust His Word that says He wins at the end of time, then I do not need to do anything unkind to those who are unkind.
For me this means, doing what is right no matter who it benefits (me or someone else). Forgiving those who wrong me because maybe they do not see their actions as causing harm.
Acting out mercy comes by clinging to Him and His Word as my guide on what is right. It’s asking the Holy Spirit to guide me. It’s asking Jesus, the God with skin on, what should I be doing? What is your desire for me? It looks like trusting Him, I mean really believing and trusting what He says is truth.
What are some steps you could take today to breathe mercy into your current situation?