Thursday, July 03, 2014

If You Do Wrong, Be Afraid, He Does Not Bear the Sword in Vain for He is the Servant of God

I have been thinking about relationships, lately. We have so many in our vapor of a life (James 4:14)…whether romantic, work affiliations, friendships, acquaintances, classmates, peers, family, etc. Further, I believe it is fair to say, relationships play a large part in our day to day. We fellowship with members of the body of Christ, confide in confidants, receive/give love and support from/to family and friends, and spend most of our workday with bosses and fellow employees.

On a somewhat related note, I feel God’s word can feel so distant, at times. I regularly look for illustrations of scripture in my life…examples of God’s promises. One such verse I understood and even felt, at times, became suddenly clear to me like an epiphany.
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10. NIV.)

The bible, like our lives, is full of relationships. Most of them pleasant, encouraging, and edifying like Naomi and Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary, the disciples and Jesus, etc. Others are very unpleasant, deceitful, and/or abusive like David and Uriah, Abigail and Nabal, Potiphar’s wife and Joseph, etc. So, I should not be surprised God works in my life through relationships. The majority of them bless me beyond measure! A few of them, though, are utterly miserable! These bring 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to life for me.

Throughout my middle and high school years I had to deal with a “mean girl” who seemed determined to make each day trying. We had a lot of the same friends and participated in the same sports. Despite my best efforts it looked as though she had no intention of ever forming a bond with me. I was excluded from her parties and get-togethers but included as a topic of gossip between her and our peers. I learned I cannot force someone to like me. I feel that was God preparing me for “loving the unlovable” I was going to encounter years later.

I seem to have a knack for getting mixed up with not so honorable individuals, at times. I suppose I am perhaps too trusting and I used to be a very poor judge of character. This, unfortunately, has caused me many problems with a small amount of people. In a nutshell and without going into much detail, over time I have been deceived, lied to repeatedly, and called such terrible, unmentionable names…every one in the book, it seems. I have been intentionally injured, threatened, and assaulted with a deadly weapon (a handful of times)…three of which to the degree of a “felony terroristic threat”. And, obviously, I have had to file for restraining orders…two, one I was awarded the other I did not have sufficient accounting of incidents. However, no matter what God has been my protector!

I am sure everyone deals with such issues (or worse) and the bottom line here is, it does not matter who or why hateful people provoke hurt feelings and fear, harass, terrorize, or persecute others. I used to be afraid to the extent my body would tremble. One person told me, “Do not fear man. God is bigger,” (Hebrews 13:6) and another advised I read the book When People Are Big and God is Small. Which I get, but also I feel it is much easier to say when standing on the outside looking into a situation. Being in the midst of it is a different story. Controlling one’s dread and stress is a challenge given certain circumstances. The body shakes, freezes, empties the bladder, etc. Yet, when I was weak, God was so, so, so strong. And over time He has made me resilient, as well. I no longer listen to the rhetoric of wicked words or have distress in the face of evil. Further, I take steps to avoid those who behave in such a way.

He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Ex. 2:15; Moses stood, Heb. 11:27. David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12; David stood, 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11¬–12; Jeremiah stood, 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10; Christ stood, John 18:1–8. Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33; Paul stood, Acts 20:22–23. . . .

Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word, Matt. 10:23.
(Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, in The Works of John Bunyan, volume 2, page 726)

God is our protection and has placed authority over those who mean intentional harm to others.
4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:4. ESV.)
Walk in peace and faith.

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