The Old Testament Law was very specific when it came to personal injuries. Exodus 21:23-24 says, “But if there’s serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” And Leviticus 24:19-20 went on to direct, “If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.” So when Jesus spoke these words of passive resistance and tolerance rather than retaliation and revenge…it turned these Old Testament Laws on their heads. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came to earth declaring a message of love and harmony with our fellow man…and not of repaying evil for evil. (Romans 12:17 & I Peter 3:9)
During this Holiday Season I need this verse in front of me constantly! So much to do, so little time, that sometimes I get very impatient. And what’s so funny, is that all those long lines are made up of the same impatient people that don’t want to be there either! This Scripture tells us to always try to be kind…goodhearted, and considerate to each other…even in the Holiday rush and crush of people. And if we can stop, take a deep breath, and consider the big picture of what Christmas really means…our agenda and plans will pale in comparison. So just think for a moment…it doesn’t take much effort to show kindness rather than being insensitive and rude.
Jesus wasn’t cocky or arrogant. Nor was He condescending, even though He had every right to act in this manner. Just imagine, God came down from heaven and willingly became nothing. He humbled Himself to the lowest of social status…a slave or servant, as an example for us to follow. Servant-hood is probably one of the hardest things to do and do well. Our selfish human nature would rather be waited on, rather than wait on others. And the whole humility and obedience thing is in direct contradiction with everything the world tells us to do. But it all starts with our attitude as the verse says. For we can bring under submission our bad attitudes and then take on the role of servant for His glory. We can extend His grace and mercy with genuine love and concern if we become humble and obedient… with Jesus as our guide.
God’s merciful kindness is afforded to all. Whether great or small…prince or pauper…wealthy or poor, we can all seek protection and refuge in Him. And by trusting in God and experiencing His love first hand, His faithfulness will become our shield and rampart in times of trouble. (Psalm 91:4) For God’s love for us is beyond measure and beyond comprehension…and it’s available for all.
Do you realize just how much God loves you? He’s not stingy or tight-fisted with His compassion towards you. Nor does His unconditional love depend on how good you are any peculiar day …or how many “works” you have on your mental score-sheet. God’s grace and love towards you is generous, abundant, and more than enough to cover anything that happens to you today.
In the Gospels, it tells us to love each other…whether it’s family, neighbors, or enemies…God’s word instructs us to love one another. For when we obey His word, His love is truly made complete in us. (I John 2:5) And by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s love will manifest and be perfected in us as we display that love to others.
None of us is immune to grief, suffering, and troubles…for they are just part of this journey we call life. But it’s good to reflect on the attributes of the Lord spoken of in this Scripture today. God’s love for us is everlasting and unconditional…for there is nothing in and of ourselves we can do to obtain this love…it is a free gift given by grace not our works. But also there is nothing so terrible we can ever do that this love can’t reach us. Mercy and kindness are central to God’s character, and it’s out of this great love for us that we can find forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
For the next few days I’m going to writing on the familiar verses in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, also known as the Love Chapter. These verses tell us what Christian love should look like. But even more importantly, they tell us what selfish self-centered love looks like. The love Jesus taught of was an unconditional agape love…love that is compassionate, and understanding…refusing to retaliate or repay evil with evil. But the love the world teaches of is egotistical, self-absorbed, and arrogant….refusing to put others first. These verses will look at both types of love…selfish and unselfish, and their impact on the world.