Article for September 3, 2023
Matthew 16:25–27 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
I would say of most Christians and Jews that their first priority is to themselves. The second priority is their family. And our last priority is God our Father in heaven. It is not that we try to put God last, but it is the way we live. In fact, it is the way we are taught to live within our society. It is in most cultures to put God last.
Maybe this is why many are falling away from the churches and temples. God is an afterthought many times and sometimes we might even forget that God is in the room with us. Immanuel, God with us. Yet we speak about Him as if He resided in another room with closed doors, or maybe God resides in the Box we think we created for Him. Although most do not realize they made a Box to imprison God. Gratefully God does not fit in any of our Boxes.
So, what it means to lose one’s life is to stop living the way of the world. Stop thinking you’re in control. Stop trying to put God in a Box and trying to hide God in your closet. This does not mean that you must sell everything, get rid of everything, or give away everything. It means that we need to be re-raised, reprogramed, and to re-learn to live our lives for God. After all, we are the ones in a box. God is limitless we are limited.
We see in God’s word that His justice is different than mankind’s justice. If you take insult to the word mankind, then you clearly live for the world and look to take insult to anything you can wrap your ears around. Sorry, mankind wants somebody to take the blame, someone to be punished, somebody to pay for all that was done to them. And yes, for those who take offence at using the word mankind, womenkind are just as bad at the blame game and all the rest.
God’s justice is different to mankind’s justice. God gave us someone to take the blame, and someone to take the punishment. God gave somebody to pay for all that was done against God, against one another, and even against ourselves. So, God says…
Romans 12:17-19 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
God did not come to get even; God gave us mercy instead. We, that is the world, look for every opportunity to seek revenge and then we fool ourselves into calling it justice. What does revenge accomplish, other than it is another sin committed, it is another sin to be forgiven?
I have heard people truly forgive occasionally, but not as many times as is needed. It is so hard for people to understand that forgiveness is part of the healing process for the one “forgiving.” In other words, you do not have to continue to hold a grudge and suffer the consequences of holding onto a grudge.
We need to put God first and realize nobody is getting away with anything. This does not mean that there should be no retribution through consequences. But it does mean that we should not sit and stew over the sins of others as we too deserve the consequences for our own sins. It’s called grace and mercy, the gospel in action, what God does for us daily.
Romans 12:20–21 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As I have been told myself, kill them with kindness, rather than with anger or revenge. As I said before no one gets away with anything. Remember God is always in the room wherever we are. God sees everything we do as well as seeing everything someone else does.
So let God see our kindness, let our kindness be seen and felt by those who are our enemies as well as those who are friends and family. It will baffle our enemy and maybe even change their trajectory.
Ever gained a friend from one who used to be an enemy? It can happen and it has happened. God gave His son to die for us while we were His enemy (Romans 5:10) and has marked us to be His children through our Baptism.
It is the Baptism of forgiveness that marks us to receive God’s mercy. It is the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ that gives us God’s grace. He has turned us, the enemy, into His beloved children and accepts us as friends (John 15:15).
Romans 12:9–13 9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
The world no longer understands how to love as it has replaced love with forms of lust and acceptance. We should love one another rather than being like the world who thinks we should love ourselves first and hate anyone who gets in our way. The world wants us to accept one another’s sin as something to be considered a good trait.
We must learn how to love genuinely and understand that loving someone does not mean condoning their sins, accepting their harmful beliefs, or letting them corrupt our children. We learn to be honest with our words, and willing to be called out for our sin. We love better when we love God first, our family second, our friends and neighbors, and then ourselves. We are all sinners who need help and help came with Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:14-16 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.
This is our Savior who came to us as one of us and treated all with love. Jesus was not afraid to let us know when He saw sin come from us. Jesus did not condemn us when He told us we sinned. In fact, Jesus saved people from sinning and saved a life from their sinful desire to kill this person.
Jesus Christ, our Savior, upon the cross forgave His persecutors and told the Father that these persecutors did not realize, did not know what they are doing. We are forgiven, and I hope those words hold true for many as many do not understand what they do. May the mercy and grace of our Lord baptize you to everlasting life. May all be blessed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s body and blood. May we all live together in eternity and community with God. Amen.
Written by Pastor Curtis A. May