In these scriptures we see the story of Jesus walking on the water and the disciples initial reaction. The disciples had been rowing for hours…fighting the rising winds and rough water. They were exhausted. With heads down, they were battling to just keep moving forward. So when Jesus approached the boat, fatigue and stress blinded them to be able to even recognize Jesus…irrationally, they imagined that it was a ghost rising from the waves. The same thing will happen to us when we fight the storms of life alone. Heads down, we power through, battling to keep moving ahead, but becoming more and more drained. It’s then that the combination of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion often leads to unfounded fears that overtake us. It’s also at that time, we suddenly come to the end of ourselves and finally cry out, “Lord, I can’t do this!”
Lepers were the most reviled of human beings in Jesus’ time. They were considered utterly unclean physically and spiritually. They were shunned and outcast…required to avoid others, staying at least six feet away from anyone, and forced to yell “unclean! unclean!” when approaching crowds. So what gave this leper the brazenness to walk right up to Jesus in the middle of a crowd and ask for healing? He knew he was breaking every law in Leviticus 13. But he also knew deep in his soul that this man he had watched from afar could cure him of this devastating disease. He took a huge risk, but he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain if Jesus would oblige. The crowd was probably stunned by the sight of this leper dropping at the feet of Jesus…but they were even more startled to watch with their own eyes the skin on this man return to normal when Jesus touched him.
Jesus loves us with an unconditional love…it has no bounds…no restrictions. But can we love each other in the same way? Maybe it can be in what we don’t do that can show the love of Christ more effectively to those around us. Instead of yelling in anger and frustration at the kids…we don’t. Instead of becoming upset and disappointed with a co-worker…we don’t. Instead of allowing discouragement and despair to break apart our marriage…we don’t. For sometimes the greatest way to demonstrate God’s love to others… is in what we don’t do.
Some later manuscripts show this verse as saying, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.” Either translation is a tall order to fill. For we are a people who retaliate at the slightest notion that we’ve been wronged. Taking revenge and repaying evil with evil is touted and even celebrated in today’s social media. But this verse tells us to do the very opposite. And our example should be Jesus, who in I Peter 2:23 demonstrates, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Taking the high road in the face of cruelty may be a clenched fist, gritted teeth type of grace under pressure, but allowing God to fight your battle is worth it in the end.
David and his men were holed up in the Desert of Maon where a wealthy landowner with thousands of sheep and goats pastured his livestock…his name of Nabal. He was married to a beautiful and intelligent woman named Abigail. David and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and sheep…so when shearing started, his men had come with greetings, looking for favor…but instead, found insults being hurled at them by Nabal. When David got wind of this, he gathered his men to launch an assault on the household. Meanwhile, Abigail had been told of her husband’s faux pas and quickly intervened by packing up a large quantity of provisions, and setting off to intercept David. When their paths crossed, Abigail was able to very eloquently and diplomatically change David’s mind…and so halting the annihilation of her entire household.
Maybe it’s hearing someone’s answer to pray…maybe it’s a praise report…or maybe it’s hearing that someone you’ve been praying for has finally come to know the Lord. Whatever it is, joy and thanksgiving almost explodes from us as we listen to others praising and thanking our Heavenly Father. Sharing God’s miraculous works is so important to all of us. For when we share…we all become encouraged and uplifted!
This verse comes from the Parable of the prodigal son…a young man, who after squandering his portion of his inheritance, found himself starving to death in the middle of a pigsty. It was in those deplorable conditions, that he finally came to himself…recovering his right mind, and realizing just how far he had wandered away. Repentance is a change of mind…leading to a change of heart…which leads to a change of our actions. Unfortunately for many of us, Godly sorrow is only attained when we find ourselves in the middle of the pigsties of life.