Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Doing Good to All

As we continue our study of Paul’s letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ in Rome, we will be examining a few verses in his letters that cause most to shift uneasily in their seats. The reason for this uneasiness comes from the natural instinct to seek revenge for whatever reason. Throughout all of recorded history, we read stories of fights or duels over honor. Even today, we read stories of fights between people over some of the silliest things. Some of those fights have ended in the death of another person. Instead of agreeing to disagree and call it done, there have been occasions when the individuals simply could not reduce the tension between them. With just a few more heated words, the situation gets out of hand. In other cases where one of the individuals decides to exercise discretion as the better part of valor, the other individual decides to continue chiding the other by calling him or her a coward. Naturally, no one likes to be called a coward and the situation then reaches another flashpoint.

From the moment we begin interacting with other people, we find ourselves disagreeing with the opinions of others. When we, as a nation, come together to select a new president every four years, we often turn that event into a circus. Instead of telling me why a particular candidate is better suited for the job, we get to endure hours and hours of commercials devoted to mudslinging, innuendo and just plain dirty politics. We live in a nation that has been blessed by God yet somehow we live contrary to His will and the teachings of His son.

Why is it so easy for us to go out of our way to repay evil with more evil? Have we become no more than animals in the wild spoiling for fights to show our prowess as dominant over others? As Christians we are God’s children and have been called “out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

Starting with verse seventeen, Paul writes in chapter twelve of his letter to the Romans, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Throughout his entire letter, Paul gives us specific instructions on how to live a righteous life in accordance with God’s will and love and following Jesus’ example. Paul teaches us that we are to be a living sacrifice that is devoted to God the Father completely. We are no longer a part of this fallen world and we are to be children of God that no longer live in the darkness, but, rather, live in his wonderful light.

As His children, it is not our place to repay evil with evil. Our place is to love one another and to help everyone. We are to show hospitality and never withhold that love from anyone. It is not our place to judge or seek vengeance on another individual. 

We are to be honorable at all times and not petty individuals who lust for revenge and demand payment through inflicting pain on others. Our one and only desire should be to live in peace with everyone.

In chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, while preaching to multitudes, said, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

In short, you cannot come into God’s presence with a heart filled with anger or evil. Before you bring your sacrifice to God, you must be reconciled. You must have a clean heart and soul. It is not enough to simply bring something to God or to come into His presence while having the filth of sin upon you.

Paul continues by writing, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Revenge belongs to God. On Judgement Day, we will all stand before God and be judged for what we did or failed to do in this life. As God’s children, we do not need to concern ourselves with repaying evil. God will judge and punish those who live contrary to His will.

Our responsibilities are quite clear. We are to take care of our enemies. We are to feed them when they are hungry and give them drink when they thirst. When we do all of these things, our enemies will invariably ask us why we showed kindness. They will feel remorse for what they have done. The coals of shame will rest squarely upon them. When they ask, we can begin to tell them of the love of Father God and His plan of salvation for us. The words you say can truly turn away wrath and anger and give way to love, understanding and faith. When we do good, we are able to conquer evil.

As you continue your journey through this week, please remember the words of Paul and how to be a living sacrifice devoted to God and the teachings of His son, Christ Jesus. Live to love and love to live. Reflect God’s light into the world and be a witness to those who walk in darkness. All those stumbling in the darkness are truly looking for something. They are looking for love and light. Do more than just take care of their physical needs. When they ask you why you showed them kindness instead of hatred, tell them the story of a man who lived 2,000 years ago and showed us the way back to the Father. When you share that story and what it did to change your life, you can stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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