Hello and welcome to episode 74 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we're going to take a look at not repaying evil with evil.
In Proverbs, 20:22 it says, “Do not say, “I will avenge this evil!”  Wait on the Lord, and He will rescue you.” In 2 Samuel King David’s son, Absalom is leading a rebellion trying to usurp his father’s throne.  Not only does David not command the capture and death of his son and his forces, he commands that Absalom should be protected at all costs.  So David and his entire household, except for 10 concubines that he leaves behind to take care of the palace, flee Jerusalem for safety.  In chapter 16 when they arrive at Bahurim, “a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was just coming out.  His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he was yelling curses as he approached.  He threw stones at David and at all the royal servants, the people and the warriors on David’s right and left.  Shimei said as he cursed: “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, you wicked man!  The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of the house of Saul in whose place you became King, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom.  Look, you are in trouble because you’re a man of bloodshed!”  Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?  Let me go over and remove his head!”  The king replied, “Sons of Zeruiah, do we agree on anything?  He curses me this way because the Lord told him, “Curse David!”  Therefore, who can say, “Why did you do that?”  Then David said to Abishai and all his servants, “Look, my own son, my flesh and blood, intends to take my life – how much more now this Benjaminite!  Leave him alone and let him curse me; the Lord has told him to.  Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimei’s curses today.”  So David and his men proceeded along the road as Shimei was going along the ridge of the hill opposite him.  As Shimei went he cursed David, threw stones at him, and kicked up dust.  Finally, the king and all the people with him arrived exhausted so they rested there.”
If it had been any other king at pretty much any other point in history it’s likely that Shimei would have lost his head for insulting and throwing rocks at the king and his servants.  But David, despite all his failings, sees the world through a different lens.  David knows that if he repays this man’s offensive behavior with evil of his own then not only is he handing his kingdom over to his son by throwing fuel on his rebellion, but he’s turning his back on God.  David knew that he needed to wait on the Lord to defend him and to take care of his son’s followers, and their rebellion.  In the end, Absalom’s rebellion is brought to a sudden end with his mule running him into the low hanging branches of a large oak tree.  Absalom’s head got caught in the tree branches and the mule kept riding without him leaving him hanging.
Socrates said, “How excellent it is to do good to our friends, and at the same time to make friends of our enemies.”  In the same vein, about 400 years later, in Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus says, “You have heard it said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  So that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the evil and the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Thomas Cranmer who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1532-1534 was reportedly so adept at walking out this verse that it was said if you wanted to become his friend all you had to do was to treat him poorly.  It’s a tip that I personally think that Catherine of Aragon could have used before Cranmer oversaw the annulment of her marriage to Henry the 8th; not that being Cranmer’s friend did Henry’s next wife Anne Boleyn any good, but still a good tip Catherine probably could have used.
In the same teaching from chapter 5 of Matthew Jesus says, “You have heard it said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer.  On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”  Specifically, Jesus is talking about teachings in the Old Testament.  Teaching in the books of the law, we’re looking at Exodus 21:23-25, “If there is an injury, then you must give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.”  We’re looking at Leviticus 24:19-20, “If any man inflicts a permanent injury on his neighbor, whatever he has done is to be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.  Whatever injury he inflicted on the person, the same is to be inflicted on him.”  And Deuteronomy 19:21, “Do not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot.”  Jesus is teaching that there is a better way than the way that the people have been living up to this point.  As hard as it was for them to hear that this idea that had been taught and ingrained in them in the law.  As hard as it was for them to hear that there is a better way, it’s just as hard to hear today when people hurt us or even worse, they hurt our loved ones.  But, to show ourselves as true Disciples of Christ, to really walk out that relationship and be Christ to the world today, we must forgive those that hurt us before we turn it into a quarrel, before we turn it into a fight, before we turn it into an occasion to be arrested for a retaliatory felony.  We are not justified as victims or justified as friends and families of victims by delivering the second blow.  We’ll get nowhere by delivering that retaliatory blow.
We must trust the Lord to deliver the justice that is deserved and to take care of us and our loved ones in the mean-time.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”
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