Have you ever felt a twinge of satisfaction upon hearing the news that someone you don’t particularly get along with has suffered some kind of trouble or pain? Nothing serious or fatal, of course, just a temporary setback. It can be tempting to allow yourself to secretly enjoy the moment, but look what Solomon has to teach us in today’s Proverb:
17 Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble. 18 For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.
I understand that the Lord is displeased about this, but I never really considered “and will turn His anger away from them.”
I once heard part of a sermon about “turning the other cheek.” The teacher talked about how that if we carry out our own justice when we’ve been wronged, then the Lord is unable to carry out His loving correction.
I never fully comprehended this, but as I read this verse, I was reminded again how important it is for us to allow God to avenge us – it’s not so much about us, it’s more about “our enemy.” If God is the one to bring correction, His perfect love will bring about healing and restoration.
However, if we choose to lash out or get even for an injustice, our selfish hearts and conditional, small-minded thinking will only bring about a deeper separation. In the end, neither us nor our enemy will be better off. On the other hand, if God brings the correction, the chances for healing and restoration are greatly increased.
Now, not everyone will respond to God’s loving correction, but it’s important to allow Him to carry out His will without getting in the way.
Let’s take another look at Jesus’ famous “turn the other cheek” passage in Matthew 5:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
That’s perfect love.
Lord, this seems so unattainable. But, I believe Your Word. Give me this kind of perfect love for my enemies so that You can bring about healing.