Jesus makes it clear in these verses that He expects a lot from us, especially in the area of how we relate to others. Though it may be "natural" for us to respond to mistreatment with anger or hostility, we are called to live "supernatural" lives through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Jesus is not impressed when we are good to those who are good to us, because even unbelievers are capable of doing that. But He expects us to do the right thing, even when the right thing is not being done to us. Jesus knew what it was like to be mistreated. He was kind, compassionate, and good, yet He was still persecuted wherever He went. And He warned His disciples that they could expect the same treatment. "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first," says the Savior. "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also." (John 15:18, 20 NIV) Knowing this, we have to decide if we are going to live our lives reacting like everyone else in these situations, or responding the way Jesus expects us to.
In Chapter 12 of the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul teaches us how to respond to those who mistreat us. "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (v. 17, 19, 21) It's God's job to judge others, not ours. If we take matters into our own hands, we don't "leave room for God's wrath," and He may not intervene in the situation at all, because we haven't given Him place. He may feel that our retaliation is punishment enough for the one who wronged us. But if we leave the matter in God's hands, though we are letting the offender off the hook, they are not off God's hook, and He will deal with them. When we release the wrongdoer to God, we are not excusing his actions, we are just forgiving him as an act of obedience to God. Don't expect your feelings to help you. You have to do it as an act of your will, and you may have to do it by faith. Often our feelings will fall in line after we do the right thing.
Today, God is calling you to a higher level of faith, obedience, and reward. Let me encourage you with a promise from His Word: "Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't get discouraged and give up"! (Galatians 6:9 TLB)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I haven't acted Christlike when I've been treated unfairly. Help me to remember that You've placed a higher calling on my life, and You expect much more from me. When I am mistreated, give me Your guidance and grace, so that I may respond the way You want me to. Thank You that my example will lead others to You!
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