Choice when provoked

“For in real life we are faced with moral choice not at the beginning of the day when we are alone and imagine that we can choose today to do either good or evil, but when someone provokes us and we are there and then tempted to respond with evil.”

—A.R.C. Leaney, The Letters of Peter and Jude (CBC), 45 (on 1 Pet 3.8-12)

#choices, #payback, #provocation, #vengeance

(#125) The Proverbs of Solomon 17:13-Many Happy Returns

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 17:13: “Whoever rewards evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house.”

There are only four ways to payback deeds: 1) Good for Good; 2) Evil for Evil; 3) Evil for Good; or 4) Good for Evil.

1) While a good gratitude level, it is doing what would be expected from anyone: “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6:32-34).

2) This human response may “feel good,” but is totally contrary to God’s example in Jesus Christ, “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Other proverbs repeat this principle: “Do not say, ‘I will recompense evil;’ Wait for the LORD, and He will save you” (Proverbs 20:22); “Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work’” (Proverbs 24:29).

3) This is the way to curse one’s own future, household, job, friendships, or eternal destiny.

Everything God Created “was very good” (Genesis 1:31), but Adam and Eve repaid Him by violating His rule in sin (“through one man sin entered the world,” Romans 5:12).

The southern kingdom, Judah, gave God evil for good: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.’ Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:2-4).

The history of the Jews’ dealings with God’s Prophets justified His destruction of their Nation in A.D. 70. “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; also Matthew 21:33-46).

4) The superior method is: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21).

This not humanly possible without having the inner “Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:14), who will “be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #deeds, #evil, #good, #gratitude, #ingratitude, #life, #payback, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #salvation, #sin, #wisdom

(#42) The Proverbs of Solomon 11:17-What Helps: Goodness or Cruelty?

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 11:17: “The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

The common sense appeal for “doing good” is that it will come back to you. The world uses the term, “pay it forward,” referring to initiating good deeds for others. Good always deserves its “payback.” But the best reason for “doing good” is that it is a quality of God that makes us all better. No clearer statements on this subject are found than Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7); “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:31-36). This Christian goodness is contrasted with all others who “love those who love you,” “do good to those who do good to you,” “lend” hoping to “receive as much back.” In other words, sinners will “do good” from the selfish motive that it’ll come back to them, but Christians will “do good” to people before they do good to the Christians. Christians are those who initiate, instigate, and originate good deeds and good feelings in this world. Jesus stated the purpose for His disciples’ actions: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). There are many people who point to misdeeds and divisions among those who profess to be following Jesus Christ (most of these falsely claiming so!), when they totally ignore all the good deeds done because of this unique, startling, and exceptional teaching of Jesus, and the quiet multitudes who keep originating the good in this world (Matthew 25:34-36)!

The contrast with the other part of the proverb calls attention to the fact that there are people in the world who are “cruel,” who will have that even come back on themselves! God delivered the Israelites in Egypt who were under “cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:9); David saw his enemies hate him with “cruel hatred” (Psalm 25:19); God returned Israelites to their land after their 70-year exile, and gave the cruel nations who had held them their own cruelty (Jeremiah 30:10-17). Other proverbs teach this principle: Proverbs 17:11: “An evil man seeks only rebellion; Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him;” Proverbs 28:10:”Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way, He himself will fall into his own pit; But the blameless will inherit good.” Solomon repeated this in his later teaching in Ecclesiastes 10:8. Cruelty is its own “reward,” and has its own “payback.” Those who spread evil, wickedness, and cruelty in this life will have it “pay backward,” both in this life and the one to come.

James stated God’s principle of judgment for Christians who serve Jesus Christ, and sinners: “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12-13). Mercy is shown by “good works” and forgiveness, while mercilessness is shown by their lack! “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #cruel, #do-good, #merciful, #pay-forward, #payback, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #repent, #wisdom

Psalm 137 What 70 Years of Regret Did

Because of their horrendous sins, God’s people (both Northern Israel and Southern Judah) were violently removed from their Promised Land for 70 years (2 Kings 17:5-23; 2 Chronicles 36:15-23). This Psalm was clearly written to express the Israelites’ sense of loss and regret while in Babylon, and their anticipation of revenge which God would bring against the Babylonians. That “payback” came at the hands of Cyrus, king of Persia, who then caused the Israelites to return and rebuild their Holy City, Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Jeremiah 50:18-32).

Verses 1-6 state the woeful lesson learned;

Verses 7-9 give the somber belief that God repays “in kind” (Jeremiah 50:29).

Verses 1-6: Being “by the rivers of Babylon” instead of their Jordan River was a constant reminder of why they were in Babylon. Those rivers included the Tigris and Euphrates, Chebar (Ezekiel 1:3), and the Ulai (Daniel 8:2). Israelite sorrow was so deep they “wept” when they thought about destroyed Jerusalem; “hung [their] harps” because there was nothing to sing about, even though their captors requested a song; and prayed for their “right hand” become useless and “tongue” stick to the “roof of” their mouth, if they tried to forget their “chief joy” should be in Jerusalem.

Verses 7-9: Israel was descended from Jacob, and his twin, Esau, became known as “Edom” (Genesis 25:30; 36:1). “Edom,” thus was a name for non-Israelites, or “nations” in the Old Testament and “Gentiles” in the New Testament. The Babylonians who had destroyed Jerusalem are represented by the term “sons of Edom” and specifically, “daughter of Babylon” whom God was going to destroy at the time of this Psalm. That destruction has already taken place, and a lingering prophecy still affects that place today. “Babylon” is modern Iraq, and the first “Gulf War” was fought when Saddam Hussein declared he would excavate ancient Babylon and bring it back to its former glory. God had decreed otherwise: “’Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation’” (Jeremiah 25:12; also see Jeremiah 51:24-26, 59-64).  (Psalm 137: 8-9) These verses reflect what God promised would happen to Babylon: “’Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon,’ The inhabitant of Zion will say; ‘And my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea!’ Jerusalem will say” (Jeremiah 51:35). Babylon’s bloodshed of innocent children in Jerusalem was repaid in kind when the Persians did the same to Babylonian babies.

 All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#babylon, #bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #faith, #god, #iraq, #obedience, #payback, #repentance, #sorrow