17th Sunday after Pentecost
How Can I Do This?
Text: Ephesians 4:29-5:2
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The old proverb means that if you fool me or wrong me once, you got me. Shame on you for that. But if I let you do that to me twice, then it’s my fault for letting it happen again. Shame on me for that.
Usually our culture takes it to a third step after that. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, and I never want to see you again.” If someone is toxic and troublesome, and continues to bring that into my life or the lives of my children, I want nothing to do with that person. “I don’t need that in my life.”
But, we are Christians, right? Christians are different. Last week we were reminded by Jesus that we confront sin. We lovingly talk to people who sin against us to win them over. When they repent we forgive them. If they don’t listen you keep trying. We don’t give up after two or three or times. As God’s people we keep trying in love to win the sinner over.
Peter seemed to understand that some people are rather hard hearted. They might fool us or sin against us once, twice, or many more times. They might not listen and keep sinning. Maybe Peter was wondering how long this forgiveness business should keep on going. Maybe Peter was tossing out a number he thought was high to sound good. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Perhaps he was expecting Jesus to say, “Oh no, that’s too many times. Only five or six.” Or on the other hand, maybe he was expecting Jesus to say, “Seven times? You would forgive seven times? Wow! You are so loving Peter!” Whatever he was expecting, Jesus certainly gave a response that he wasn’t ready for: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Read the rest of this entry
Text: Jeremiah 11:18-20
It seems almost anti-Christian, doesn’t it? Asking God to take vengeance upon your enemies? What happened to turning the other cheek? What happened to forgiving and forgiving and then forgiving some more? Yet today we see Jeremiah calling upon the Lord to do just that–take vengeance upon his enemies that threaten him.
So was that right for Jeremiah to do?
Yes. We call these kinds of prayers–or psalms in the book of Psalms–imprecatory prayers. They are prayers that essentially ask for God to crush his enemies. Remembering that Scripture says that vengeance belongs to God and not us, imprecatory prayers ask that God continues to execute his will over and above all enemies.
So while we humbly show love to all, even to our enemies, we at the same time pray that God’s enemies be overcome and defeated. After all, God’s enemies restrict us and persecute us. They oppose the preaching of God’s Word. They work to stop the growth of God’s Church. Their defeat means more opportunities for God’s people and God’s Word to grow.
Finally, these words of Jeremiah remind us of our Savior Jesus. Just as Jeremiah was led like a lamb to the slaughter, so also the great Lamb of God was. Jesus suffered at the hands of his enemies and was finally killed. Yet in this suffering and death Jesus won the ultimate victory over all our enemies–Sin, Death, and the Devil.
Thanks be to God for his victory! Thanks be to God for his power over our enemies!
Entrust to him all your cares and concerns about our enemies of faith. Give to him all glory.
Prayer: All glory be to you alone, Lord God Almighty. Watch over me with your great power and might. Keep me safe from all enemies. Crush them with your mighty power, that all may see you as King of kings and Lord of lords alone. Amen.