Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Praying for Saul: Lover of Hate

Theology seems to be a great debate. God gave us His word to live by and individuals want to argue over it...which, by the way, doesn't that go against what God says? (I.e. keep the peace...do not stir up strife and God is love not hate):

If anyone stirs up strife,
it is not from me;
whoever stirs up strife with you
shall fall because of you.
(Isaiah 54:15. ESV.)

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
(Proverbs 10:12. ESV.)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
(Proverbs 15:18. ESV.)

A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched.
(Proverbs 28:25. ESV.)

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.
(Proverbs 29:22. ESV.)

Yes, He warns also to be wise (Matthew 10:16) but does NOT state to treat others poorly, take revenge upon them, demonstrate an eye for an eye - a tooth for a tooth, and repay evil with evil. Rather God says quite the OPPOSITE and, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19. ESV.)

Do not say, "I will repay evil";
wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
(Proverbs 20:22. ESV.)

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39. ESV.)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19. ESV.)

For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again,(B) "The Lord will judge his people." (Hebrews 10:30. ESV.)

Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.'
(Deuteronomy 32:35. ESV.)

...that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. (1 Thessalonians 4:6. ESV.)

Scriptures give many examples of how God's people (and unbelievers alike) acted and what the outcome was for their behavior. If they did not glorify God and obey His instruction, they reaped consequences... as a child would from his or her parent.

At this point I am going to look toward Saul of Tarsus. A man of hate who did unspeakable things. However the contrast between Saul of Tarsus and the apostle Paul are overwhelming. A heart of repulsion, venom, and ruthlessness replaced by one of adoration. Quite a stunning difference... and no gray area. Which, come to think of it, is something else that strikes me about the gospel. God does not like "lukewarm". It is black or white, hot or cold, believer or not. (Not to say there is not a season when God is working on the heart and one might experience a battle between the flesh and Holy Spirit, but rather (based on the word of God) God does not appear to be the author of confusion. It either is or it is not... either love or hate... Saul of Tarsus or apostle Paul.)

Now, am I a theologian, masters holder, or doctorate recipient? No. But neither (I presume) were the disciples, Ruth, Esther, Mary (mother of Jesus), nor Mary Magdalene. I am just me... a stop what I'm doing, drop everything, let the dead bury their own dead, denier of self, cross carrying, follower type gal. Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He does not require me to be a scholar... only like Paul and more importantly... as similar as humanly possible to Christ Jesus.

So, when I witness worldliness and perhaps see men or women behaving badly, I pray for ones imitating Saul: the lover of hate. For hate is not of God. Hate is of the devil.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7. ESV.)
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