Think about it...
I am to die to my self in order that I may live.
I am to give so that I can receive.
I am to humble myself to God, and He will lift me up.
I have found all of these seemingly absurd statements to be very true. They are not easy to do in the natural, but once you can get past the natural and allow God to give you a supernatural desire, a life of satisfaction is the result. There is another paradox in the Bible that seems harder than any of them. We are told to bless those who persecute us. WHAT?!
Let's look at this closer...
Romans 12:14-19 (NIV) - "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 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. On the contrary:
'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Another passage says...
1 Peter 3:8-10 (NIV) "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
'Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.' "
What if more people did this? How would the world change? That would definitely be walking out the talk. Jesus was our example. Isaiah prophesied Jesus, the Messiah's death many years before it actually happened when he wrote
"He was oppressed and afflicted,Even in the worst of persecution, Jesus did not try to defend Himself. Yes, His accusers seemingly won the battle when they killed Him. However, three days later, look what happened! He was resurrected from the dead and conquered death, hell and the grave! I don't care what the enemy tries to do to silence God and His people. God always has the last word!
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth." (Is 53:7 NIV)
I recently told a friend this who is facing some crazy accusations that have gotten out of hand. She responded, "That's Jesus. He's God!" I replied, "Yes, but where does Jesus live?" She knew when she said, "In me!"
Lord, help us to look to You for our approval instead of people. Their unkind words will not hurt as bad if we do not need their approval. That way when they persecute us, we will have what we need to show them grace and repay their evil with good. Help us to show them Your goodness. May our actions be the seed that draws them to Your kindness which leads them to repentance. Help us to have the grace to release them to You, knowing that You can take care of the situation much better than we can!