The High Cost of Getting Even

Do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. ROMANS 12:19

Have you ever noticed in the western movies how the bounty hunter travels alone? It’s not hard to see why. Who wants to hang out with a guy who settles scores for a living? Who wants to risk getting on his bad side? More than once I’ve heard a person spew his anger. He thought I was listening, when really I was thinking, I hope I never get on his list. Cantankerous sorts, these bounty hunters. Best leave them alone. Hang out with the angry and you might catch a stray bullet. Debt-settling is a lonely occupation. It’s also an unhealthy occupation.…

If you’re out to settle the score, you’ll never rest. How can you? For one thing, your enemy may never pay up. As much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent. The chauvinist may never change. As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a penny’s worth of justice. And if you do, will it be enough?

The Great House of God

The Circle of Our Impact

Matthew 5:14-16

One of today’s great tragedies is that so many people live chaotic lives with no real purpose. We would expect this from non-believers, but Christians should live out the knowledge that God has a very specific purpose for each person. When we consider what He has invested in us,it is no wonder that He wants to see us bear fruit in the lives of others.

We can powerfully impact those in our circle of influence, much the way a stone tossed into a pond will make expanding concentric ripples.In today’s passage, Jesus describes believers as light and calls us to reflect Him in a sin-darkened culture. Like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, we are to let the truth and beauty of the indwelling Christ shine out through our conduct, conversation, and character. In doing so, we must put away sin because it diminishes our light, as does soot on the globe of a lantern.

Our influence on others should be purposeful rather than haphazard.We ought to ask ourselves which people we are impacting. Are we in fact making a difference in anyone’s life? The truth is, we can turn our “ripples” into powerful waves for God that affect wide circles of individuals. For instance, consider the impact of prayer. There’s no end to its possibilities—your influence can extend to the remotest places on earth when you are on your knees before the Lord.

Don’t ever underestimate the scope and circle of your influence when you are obedient to God. By following Him, you live out what it means to be the “light of the world.”

Rest with Us

“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

The Christians in the young church at Thessalonica, very soon after accepting Christ, underwent severe “persecutions and tribulations” (v. 4). The apostle Paul wrote to commend them that God had thus judged them to be “counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (v. 5). That is, the kingdom of God was being persecuted when they were persecuted, and God would certainly repay their tormentors in kind. The believers’ tribulations were from men. Those who were being troubled would receive “rest with us” from God (“rest” here is a noun, not a verb).

The Thessalonians must realize, however, that this righteous recompense—at least in its full measure—must await the return of the Lord Jesus. They must resist the temptation to repay their persecutors in kind if the opportunity should come. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). They must simply continue to “endure” and “suffer,” so that “our God would count you worthy of this calling, and . . . That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you” (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 11-12).

The Lord Jesus Himself is our example, “that ye should follow his steps: . . . Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21, 23).

“In the last days . . . all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:1, 12), and latter-day Christians may very well have opportunity to put this ancient counsel to the Thessalonians into present practice. If so, may God give us the grace to endure as they endured! HMM

As many as I love I rebuke and chasten

“As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.” (Rev. 3:19.)

GOD takes the most eminent and choicest of His servants for the choicest and most eminent afflictions. They who have received most grace from God are able to bear most afflictions from God. Affliction does not hit the saint by chance, but by direction. God does not draw His bow at a venture. Every one of His arrows goes upon a special errand and touches no breast but his against whom it is sent. It is not only the grace, but the glory of a believer when we can stand and take affliction quietly.—Joseph Caryl.

If all my days were sunny, could I say,
“In His fair land He wipes all tears away”?

If I were never weary, could I keep
Close to my heart, “He gives His loved ones sleep”?

Were no graves mine, might I not come to deem
The Life Eternal but a baseless dream?

My winter, and my tears, and weariness,
Even my graves, may be His way to bless.

I call them ills; yet that can surely be
Nothing but love that shows my Lord to me!
—Selected.

“The most deeply taught Christians are generally those who have been brought into the searching fires of deep soul-anguish. If you have been praying to know more of Christ, do not be surprised if He takes you aside into a desert place, or leads you into a furnace of pain.”

Do not punish me, Lord, by taking my cross from me, but comfort me by submitting me to Thy will, and by making me to love the cross. Give me that by which Thou shalt be best served… and let me hold it for the greatest of all Thy mercies, that Thou shouldst glorify Thy name in me, according to Thy will.—A Captive’s Prayer.

Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you

“Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Hebrews 9:20

There is a strange power about the very name of blood, and the sight of it is always affecting. A kind heart cannot bear to see a sparrow bleed, and unless familiarized by use, turns away with horror at the slaughter of a beast. As to the blood of men, it is a consecrated thing: it is murder to shed it in wrath, it is a dreadful crime to squander it in war. Is this solemnity occasioned by the fact that the blood is the life, and the pouring of it forth the token of death? We think so. When we rise to contemplate the blood of the Son of God, our awe is yet more increased, and we shudder as we think of the guilt of sin, and the terrible penalty which the Sin-bearer endured.

Blood, always precious, is priceless when it streams from Immanuel’s side. The blood of Jesus seals the covenant of grace, and makes it for ever sure. Covenants of old were made by sacrifice, and the everlasting covenant was ratified in the same manner. Oh, the delight of being saved upon the sure foundation of divine engagements which cannot be dishonoured! Salvation by the works of the law is a frail and broken vessel whose shipwreck is sure; but the covenant vessel fears no storms, for the blood ensures the whole. The blood of Jesus made His testament valid. Wills are of no power unless the testators die.

In this light the soldier’s spear is a blessed aid to faith, since it proved our Lord to be really dead. Doubts upon that matter there can be none, and we may boldly appropriate the legacies which He has left for His people. Happy they who see their title to heavenly blessings assured to them by a dying Saviour. But has this blood no voice to us? Does it not bid us sanctify ourselves unto Him by whom we have been redeemed? Does it not call us to newness of life, and incite us to entire consecration to the Lord? O that the power of the blood might be known, and felt in us this night!

I will pour water upon him that is thirsty

“I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.” Isaiah 44:3

When a believer has fallen into a low, sad state of feeling, he often tries to lift himself out of it by chastening himself with dark and doleful fears. Such is not the way to rise from the dust, but to continue in it. As well chain the eagle’s wing to make it mount, as doubt in order to increase our grace. It is not the law, but the gospel which saves the seeking soul at first; and it is not a legal bondage, but gospel liberty which can restore the fainting believer afterwards. Slavish fear brings not back the backslider to God, but the sweet wooings of love allure him to Jesus’ bosom.

Are you this morning thirsting for the living God, and unhappy because you cannot find him to the delight of your heart? Have you lost the joy of religion, and is this your prayer, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation”? Are you conscious also that you are barren, like the dry ground; that you are not bringing forth the fruit unto God which He has a right to expect of you; that you are not so useful in the Church, or in the world, as your heart desires to be? Then here is exactly the promise which you need, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.” You shall receive the grace you so much require, and you shall have it to the utmost reach of your needs. Water refreshes the thirsty: you shall be refreshed; your desires shall be gratified.

Water quickens sleeping vegetable life: your life shall be quickened by fresh grace. Water swells the buds and makes the fruits ripen; you shall have fructifying grace: you shall be made fruitful in the ways of God. Whatever good quality there is in divine grace, you shall enjoy it to the full. All the riches of divine grace you shall receive in plenty; you shall be as it were drenched with it: and as sometimes the meadows become flooded by the bursting rivers, and the fields are turned into pools, so shall you be—the thirsty land shall be springs of water.