If when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example.
C.H. Spurgeon once said to his congregation in London, “If, my dear friend, you make it a rule that nobody shall ever insult you without having to pay for it, nor treat you with disrespect without meeting his match, you need not pray God in the morning to help you carry out your resolve.” His point was simple: defending our reputations and getting even with those who cross us come naturally to us. Enduring suffering and leaving the enacting of judgment to God, on the other hand, does not.
Yet enacting judgment is a responsibility for which we are totally incompetent. When we hit back, we never know how hard to hit, and when somebody says something hurtful, we often respond with something much worse. Deep down, we tend to think we will overcome hatred by more of the same; instead, we magnify the wickedness. Clearly, evil should be punished, and evil will be punished. But it must not be punished by us.
Only God is perfect in His judgments and His justice. He will right every wrong. There is a higher throne than any this world has seen, and one day at that throne, all the corrupt jurisdictions, failures of judgment, and miscarriages of human justice will be righted.
This should not be a cloak for our own vindictiveness, though. We must not wish for anything other than the salvation of our enemies. To those who have reviled us, who have worked against us, or who have undermined us, our responsibility is clear: we are to bless and pray for them (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28).
Jesus is our example: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). You will not suffer greater injustice than Him; so in every situation, you are called to respond like Him.
In what situations and with which people are you tempted to hit back hard instead of meeting wrong with right? These three things will help you please God by doing good to those people. First, fix your eyes on Jesus. It is difficult to look at Christ upon the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), and then proceed to execute vengeance, in whatever form. Second, let the grace of God amaze you. Remember who you are by nature and who you have become by grace. It is impossible to be amazed by grace and wish ill to others. And third, focus on eternity and God’s higher throne. Your earthly situation is not the complete picture, and you do not need to see justice done in the here and now. So, ask God to help you to do good and endure, even when you are met by evil. He is ready to help you accomplish something that’s entirely in line with what He has commanded.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.