Motivation for the Series:
- We have a vision that is global, multilingual and locally contextual
- Racial conflict will likely continue to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future.
Objective of the series:
- To put racial conflict in perspective and navigate it with peace.
Proverbs 11:24–25 (ESV): 24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Matthew 18:32–35 (ESV): 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Does God Require Us to Forgive People Who Are not Remorseful?
- Philippians 2:5 (NKJV): 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
- Luke 23:34 (ESV): 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Can We Really Forgive like Jesus Did?
- Acts 7:60 (ESV): 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The Practical Difficulty of Loving Your Enemy
Not Taking the Business of Justice Personally
Clearly, God does NOT want us to allow injustice to persist.
- Proverbs 31:8–9 (ESV): 8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
- Proverbs 24:11–12 (ESV): 11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
We should never pursue justice in a quest to address our personal offenses.
- Proverbs 24:17–18 (ESV): 17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.
God draws a distinction between Justice and vengeance.
Micah 6:6–8 (ESV): 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
In a world full of corruption, exploitation and oppression, God not only calls for justice, but also for mercy and humility.
- We often reduce justice to the punishment of wrongdoers and the compensation of those who were wronged.
- This is why God often does not respond to our complaints about injustice on our terms and timing.
- Genesis 15:13–16 (ESV) – 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
- [Romans 12:19 (ESV) – 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”]
- Vengeance is the fruit of a modern-day tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- Vengeance occurs when we use our powers of observation to determine right and wrong.
Romans 12:20 (ESV) – 20 To 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.”
Romans 12:21 (ESV) – 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Are you committed to the good or just what’s good for you?
1 Peter 3:9 (ESV) – 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2023