Penalty or Prayer

I want give you (Christian) something to seriously think about…

When an injustice has happened, when God’s law has been broken, are you more apt to respond with a penalty, or are you more apt to respond with a prayer for the law breaker’s heart to be changed as a result of hearing the Gospel? Are you more apt to respond with an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” or are you more apt to “turn the other cheek”?  Do you seek execution as the answer to serious crime, or do you seek evangelism? Do you call for fire from heaven, or for forgiveness from the heart? Is for you retribution a more attractive solution, rather than repentance? Is gall your more natural tendency, or is grace?

Unfortunately, we brethren don’t always agree on what the proper response is given the circumstance. We each have to search our own hearts and discern as to which might be the proper path to take when confronted with evil. However, we are not in the dark when such forks in the road come our way. We do have a proper directional heading: Christ.

Matthew 5:17-48
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.

How do we be perfect?

Repent…

We must recognize our failures at these crossroads and ask God to forgive us when we go in the wrong direction. And, we must also trust in Christ to make things justified in the end… instead of ourselves in such moments.

Again, who are we to listen to?

Luke 9:35
“And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him!””

The thing that we (Christians) must be more honest with, regarding ourselves, is whether or not we actually trust that God is sovereign, and that He will make things right according to His will, and not ours. If we do believe such, we may then perhaps not be as apt to go down the wrong path when faced with the temptation to take matters into our own fleshly hands.

Yes, there are times when a defense is appropriate:

1 Peter 3:15
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

We must first pray for wisdom and discernment, and then apply such with love.

Isaiah 30:18
“For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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