I confess. I am pretty angry at the way things are going in the world. People who reject Jesus as the Son of God are violently attacking people and places in the name of a false prophet. Representatives of the country that assures my (and their) freedom to worship are brutalized and murdered. Yes, I am angry. The challenge for me is to avoid stepping downward from anger to madness and hatred. It is not easy.
God filled man with emotions which run from ecstasy to melancholy to despair and grief and then to hatred and rage. Joy and ecstasy come only when a life is brought under the full control and submission to Jesus. It requires effort to purge the old life out and bring in the new. Part of the process, according to Paul is the mortification of sin in our lives (). That is hard but required if we are to find complete and pure joy.
Conversely, hatred is easy. All that is required to hate is to release the restraint on ourselves and allow nature to take its course. Suspend righteous judgment (), ignore the Golden Rule () and swirl deeper into rage. It really is not hard at all. For me, a few minutes watching videos from the Middle East is all it would take. But there is something better.
A Way Better Than Hatred
The Bible instructs us to pray for those in authority so that we might have a peaceable life. But the same text includes a broad admonition to make prayers for “all people.” The reason? So that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (). To pray for our enemies is hard but we are so instructed (). Likewise, we are instructed to leave vengeance to God (; ).
Jesus taught that we are to seek better and higher motives. Paul encouraged disciples then, and now, to focus on good thoughts:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ()
When one considers that Paul wrote those words while facing execution it becomes all the more remarkable that he could even suggest such a focus. Paul had every reason to be angry with Rome and with the Jews for putting him in chains. Paul struggled with hatred just like the rest of us.
The people assaulting our national interests are to be pitied. They are hopelessly lost and condemned to face the wrath of a God they barely know. They have been deceived by their spiritual leaders, robbed and impoverished by their secular leaders and enraged by their own uncontrolled madness. While I hope they will be punished in this life, I cannot bring myself to cheer for their eternal damnation. Such is a penalty too horrible to consider.
Pray people, pray! Pray often and continuously for the salvation of all men, even the maddened protesters. Jesus rules and God will hear our prayers.
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5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (ESV)
7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (ESV)
12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)
2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (ESV)
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (ESV)
35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’ (ESV)
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord! (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)