Footnotes

*5:38: Exodus 21:24Leviticus 24:20Deuteronomy 19:21

*5:43: Leviticus 19:18

5:43: not in the Bible, but see Qumran Manual of Discipline Ix, 21-26

§5:47: NU reads “Gentiles” instead of “tax collectors”.

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Hidden treasure in Matthew 5:38-48

Many people view Matthew 5:38-48 to be a set of revised laws or a higher standard that Christians should follow. If we interpret it that way, it would mean that any time if someone slaps us, we will turn our other cheek to be slapped. If someone wants to borrow, we will always lend. If we live this way, it can be dangerous because we may end up accepting abuse and be easily scammed. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to abolish the law. So interpreting Matthew 5:38-48 as revised laws of higher standards cannot be correct.

Moreover, apostle Paul has written very explicitly that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law (Galatians 2:16, 2:21, 3:2, 3:10, 3:11, 3:21, 3:25). For Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law (Galatians 3:13). So we receive freedom by believing in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22, 4:12 5:1, 5:13). Apostle Paul wrote that as believers, we should not try to make ourselves perfect by our own human effort to keep the law otherwise we fall from God’s grace and are cut off from Christ (Galatians 5:4, 3:3). If Paul is led by the Spirit to write these scriptures, then why did Jesus gave us all these instructions that appear to be a set of new/revised laws in the sermon on the mountain of Beattitudes? 

Scriptures cannot contradict scriptures because all scriptures are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we encounter questions, there must be some hidden treasure in Matthew 5:38-48 that God wants us to find out. Let’s search the scriptures to understand Matthew 5:38-48 and find the truths that will unlock the hidden treasure. Let’s use scriptures to interpret this scripture and try to understand why did Jesus give us these instructions

 

SCRIPTURESWHAT WE SHOULD DOWHY?
1Matthew 5:38-40 Don't resist an evil person.Our God is a God who fights for His people (Deuteronomy 1:30, 3:22, 20:4, Exodus 14:14, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 54:17). He is also a compassionate God who helps those who are bullied and abused (Psalms 82:3-4, 146:9, Exodus 22:21-25, Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:40). Let God fight for you (Romans 12:19).
2Matthew 5:41-42Go an extra mile and give to those who ask you to help.The system that God built into this world is one where you reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). When you give, it will be given back to you many times (Luke 6:38, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 John 3:17-18).
3Matthew 5:43-48Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.Our God is a God of justice. No sins can get away unpunished (Proverbs 11:21). The greater the evil, the greater the punishment (Exodus 21:23-25). But do not rejoice over your enemies' punishment because God is a compassionate God (Proverbs 24:17-18). If you believe they will be greatly punished, let your compassion drive you to pray for them and in so doing, you keep your heart pure and remember the promise Jesus gave in Matthew 5:8.

In the above table, under the column titled “WHY”, we see how other scriptures support and explain the underlying reasons for the various verses in Matthew 5:38-48. When all these scriptures are placed together, it is like jigsaw puzzles pieced together. Now  we can see very clearly the big picture — Jesus was revealing to us the character of God and how the whole system in this world is based on (Matthew 5:42, Luke 6:38). He was telling us that our God is kind and compassionate and teaching us to live wisely because as believers we are sheeps among wolves (Matthew 10:16-18). Therefore, when people abuse us, we do not  use violence to fight back because God, our Father, will fight for us. When we are kind and give to the needy, God gives us more in return. When we forgive and do good to our enemies, we keep our hearts pure (Matthew 5:8) and delight our heavenly Father who will reward us. If we take revenge, we turn them into victims and cause God to have compassion on them. (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Now have you found the key to open the treasure hidden in Matthew 5:38-48? It is not about obeying the laws to be justified with God. It is about knowing the character of God. God will render to (reward, pay back, repay, give) us according to what we have done (Romans 2:6, NKJV). This is why Jesus revealed to us the heart of our Father in heaven. Now that you understand that the Creator of this universe is kind, compassionate and just, how would you live your life? Do you think it is wise to do bad things?

 

Matthew 5:38 – 48 has the following truths:

1. Our God is a God who fights for His people (Deuteronomy 1:30, 3:22, 20:4, Exodus 14:14, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 54:17). He is also a compassionate God who helps those who are bullied and abused (Psalms 82:3-4, 146:9, Exodus 22:21-25, Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:40). So that is why Jesus said that when an evil person attacks you, do not retaliate (Matthew 5:39). Let God fight for you (Romans 12:19).

2. The system that God built into this world is one where you reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). When you give, it will be given back to you many times (Luke 6:38, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 John 3:17-18, Proverbs 11:24, 28:27, Psalms 37:26). So that is why Jesus said give to those who ask you for help (Matthew 5:42).

3. Our God is a God of justice. No sins can get away unpunished (Proverbs 11:21). The greater the evil, the greater the punishment (Exodus 21:23-25). But do not rejoice over your enemies’ punishment because God is a compassionate God (Proverbs 24:17-18). This is why Jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44) because their punishments are going to be very severe. If you do not rejoice over their punishments, you keep your heart pure and you will be blessed ( Matthew 5:8).

When you see how other scriptures support and explain the underlying reasons for the various instructions in Matthew 5:38-48, it is like jigsaw puzzles pieced together. Now  we can see very clearly the big picture — Jesus was revealing to us the compassion and kindness of God and how the whole system in this world is based on (Matthew 5:42, Luke 6:38). He was teaching us to live wisely because as believers we are sheeps among wolves (Matthew 10:16-18). Therefore, when people abuse us, we do not  use violence to fight back because God, our Father, will fight for us. When we are kind and give to the needy, God gives us more in return. When we forgive and do good to our enemies, we keep our hearts pure (Matthew 5:8) and delight our heavenly Father who will reward us. If we take revenge, we turn them into victims and cause God to have compassion on them. (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Now have you found the key to open the treasure hidden in Matthew 5:38-48? It is not about obeying the laws to be justified with God. It is about knowing the character of God. God will render to (reward, pay back, repay, give) us according to what we have done (Romans 2:6, NKJV). This is why Jesus revealed to us the heart of our Father in heaven. Now that you understand that the Creator of this universe is kind, compassionate and just, how would you live your life? Do you think it is wise to do bad things?

 

You see, for believers, we are to live by faith (Galatians 2:16). Apostle Paul wrote that what is important is that our faith should express itself in love (Galatians 5:6). This works not by obeying the law because the more we try to obey the law, the more we will fail and the law will condemn us (Galatians 2:19). So live by simply trusting Jesus who had given Himself for us (Galatians 2:21).  When we believe in Jesus, God gives us the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:2, 3:5). Now, when we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives (Galatians 5:16), the Spirit will give us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires (Galatians 2:17-18). Jesus said the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus has told us (John 14:26) and the Spirit will lead us into all truths and will tell us all that He received from Jesus (John 16:13-15).

This means that the instructions that Jesus taught in His sermon on the mountain of Beatitudes (which include this scripture Matthew 5:38-48) is revealing to us the heart of God. It is not to be taken as a set of laws for us to try to use our own human effort to obey it. If we do, we are going to fail.  As believers, we live by trusting Jesus and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will reveal the heart of God (Galatians 4:6) to us, just like Jesus revealing the heart of God to us. When we choose to live by the guidance of the Spirit, we will find ourselves loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and wanting to share each other’s burden (Galatians 6:2). We will find ourselves obeying the new commandment that Christ gave us — to love one another (John 13:34). In fact John 13:34 is the new commandment that Christ gave us.

Most importantly, Jesus said that God is our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:45,48)! The Creator of heavens and earth is our Father! He loves us and wants to reward us.  Pause and think about this awesome truth!

When your heart is filled with this wonderful truth of your position in God Almighty, who is also your Father in heaven who loves you, it is no longer about achieving the perfect standard of God. You will want to do good because you are a beloved child of God and you want to delight Him.

Questions & Answers

QUESTIONS RELATED TO THIS SCRIPTURE READING

1. Does Jesus demand a higher standard from Christians?

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law.  Yet in this reading (Matthew 5:38-48), it seems like there is an abolishment? In the past, it was “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Now, we are not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps us on the right, we are to turn the other side to him.  Is this a change in the law or does Jesus demand a higher standard from Christians??

Jesus never put unachievable demands on us

Now, we know that in Matthew 23:4, Jesus criticised the scribes and Pharisees for putting unbearable religious demands on the people. So, it is impossible therefore, that Jesus would teach us standards that are not achievable. Read on and you will discover that everything that Jesus was teaching us in this sermon was to live wisely through knowing God. Jesus did not come to judge or  condemn us but to save us (John 3:17, 12:47).

2. Should Christians turn the other cheek to be slapped?

Do you know that in the bible, it was recorded that Jesus was slapped? Let’s examine how Jesus handled that situation.

In John 18:22-23, we read that when Jesus was brought before the high priest, one of the Temple guards slapped Jesus. What did Jesus do?

Jesus said this to the Temple guard:

“If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?” (John 18:23).

Jesus’ words were so wise, full of truth and grace. The Temple guard could not find any further excuse to hit Jesus.

Did Jesus give His other cheek to be be slapped? No, He did not. This tells us that what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:39 is to be wise and not return evil with evil. Matthew 5:39 is not to be taken literally that giving the other side to be slapped is the solution to handle all situations of violence. 

Jesus was teaching us to live wisely

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Did anyone do that? No! Otherwise, most Christians would not have eyes or hands! We know that what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:29-30 was to tell us not to sin. Therefore, when Jesus taught us to “turn the other side”, He was teaching us to live wisely and not literally means that every time people slap us, we should turn the other cheek to be slapped.

Jesus was teaching us that it is unwise to fight back with violence. When we do that, we disadvantaged ourselves. We may be taken to the authorities. What started to be someone else’s fault now we become the one at fault. We may become so apologetic over our reactions that we missed realising that, that person is an evil person that we should not continue to be with. Even if we win with violence, we make him the victim and cause God to have compassion on him (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Therefore, the wisest thing to do is not to fight back. Let God judge him. Leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:19). Analyse the situation wisely and ask the Holy Spirit to tell you how to stop the violence. Seek wisdom from God if that is a person to avoid or it is a lesson we should learn.

Jesus does not prohibit self defense or fleeing from harm

Note that Jesus does not prohibit self defense or fleeing from harm. Read how David slipped away from danger (1 Samuel 19:10, 21:12-15) and how Jesus got away from the evil people (Luke 4:29-30, John 8:59). In fact, Jesus said that as Christians, we are sheeps living among wolves and we are to be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16-18).

So Matthew 5:39 does not mean Christians should give up their human rights to defend themselves or live being abused! It also does not mean that giving our other cheek to be slapped is the only solution to solve all situations of violence. We should pray and ask the Holy Spirit in us to give us wisdom and to reveal the truth to us (John 16:13-15).

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Law versus grace…

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3. Does Christians need to work hard to find favour with God?

As we read the sermon that Jesus gave on the mountain (Matthew 5:1-7:29), often, it appears as if there is a perfect standard that Christians have to meet –not to retaliate, to give to the needy, to forgive our enemies. Does it mean that after we become a Christian, we have to work harder to meet the perfect standard of God to maintain our salvation?

The answer is no. When we believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, because of our faith, we receive God’s grace. We no longer need to work hard to obey the laws to get God’s favour. We are already in the position of unmerited favour. Scriptures tell us that Jesus has paid it all for us  (Hebrews 7:27). We are forgiven (John 3:18). 

Caution against misinterpretation

If we read Matthew 5:38-48 as a set of laws/ demands/ standards/ commandments for Christians to obey, we will miss knowing the grace of God, that it is Jesus who paid the price for us so that our sins are wiped out. We will not be grateful that it is Jesus who gives us unmerited favour and undeserved privillege (Romans 5:2). Instead, we will be using our self effort to follow the laws.

If we do that, when we receive blessings, we will feel that we deserve the  blessings because of our good works. When we fail, we will want to hide away from God (our only source of help). When difficult times come, we question God what is it that we have done wrong to deserve the bad things (just like what Job did). We may even blame God for not protecting us or question God’s existence.

With our human effort, the more we try to live to the perfect standard of God, the more we are likely to do the reverse and we will find ourselves living defeated lives (Romans 7:15-20). Also, we are likely to think that becoming Christians means giving up our rights to defend ourselves. In so doing, we are living foolishly, dangerously as sheeps among wolves (Matthew 10:16-18).

The truth is, as believers of Jesus, we are no longer under the law. We are under grace (Romans 6:14). We are children of God, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we are to live by faith and be led by the Spirit (Galatians 3:24-26, 5:16-26).

The Truths

 

In the sermon (Matthew 5:1-7:29), Jesus was revealing to us the heart of God and the system in this world so that when we understand it, we will know how to live wisely. Jesus was not giving a revised set of laws nor a higher standard of God.  Let’s examine some of the scriptures in Jesus’ sermon and discover the truths:

1. Teaching on Anger (Matthew 5:21-26) – Jesus did not abolish the law on murder. He was telling us the consequences of anger. He was explaining that  you do not face judgement only when you reach the stage of murdering someone. Even when you scold  or fight someone, you already have to face judgement or the consequences of your actions. People can report you to the authorities. It is very unwise to be angry. The wise way to live is to solve matters amicably with people. If someone is angry with us, Jesus teach us that resolving that issue is to be placed as higher priority than worshipping God. Why? Simply because God loves you and want you well. When it is in your power to resolve the issue, go and resolve it. This is wisdom. It is not a revised law that prioritise human relationships above our relationship with God.

2. Teaching on Lust and Adultery (Matthew 5:27-32) – Jesus did not abolish the law on divorce. Jesus was saying that it is not whether it is lawful to divorce your wife or not. He was telling us that when you lust after another woman, you have already hurt your wife. Even if you do not divorce (because you follow the law) but if you lust after another woman and you do not love your wife, how can you ever be right before a God who is compassionate?  Before the law was instituted, right from the beginning when God first created marriage, He designed it such that two flesh become one (Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:6). There was no new law nor a higher standard. Jesus is telling us that being unfaithful is great cruelty on your wife (Malachi 2:16) and it is something that will never please our heavenly Father. 

3. Teaching on Retaliation (Matthew 5:38-41) –  Moses law in Exodus 21:23-25 was put in place to prevent inappropriate punishment. Jesus did not abolish this law. Instead, in Matthew 5:39-41, He was teaching His disciples and the people that it is unwise to resist an evil person (Matthew 5:39). That however, does not mean we should be abused.  Instead, we should seek to solve the problem peacefully.  Proverbs 9:8,12:15-16,15:12,26:4 tell us that it is unwise to fight some people. Moreover, if we fight or take revenge, we turn that person from an aggressor to a victim and God may have compassion on him. Let God fight for you. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to handle each difficult situation.

From the above, we can see that when Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to abolish the Law. He meant it. Jesus did not abolish any law nor revise any law nor create higher standards. The laws of Moses’ days (the Torah which refers to the first five books of the Bible) were created by God and was already based on God’s perfect standards and wisdom because God never change.

In this sermon on the mountain, Jesus was revealing to us the heart of God– His justice, compassion and kindness behind those laws. Every law was created to guide people to love God and to love their neighbour (Matthew 22:38-40). Jesus was telling us that we are children of God whom our Father in heaven loves dearly.

Knowing the GRACE of God

As believers of Jesus, we are children of God,  we are already in the position of unmerited favour (Romans 4:16) and undeserved privillege (Romans 5:2). If we interpret Matthew 5:38-48 as a set of laws to follow, it means we still need to work hard to obtain the favour of God. In so doing, we fall from God’s grace and are cut off from Christ (Galatians 5:4). That is the reason why so many Christians find themselves living defeated lives. The more they try to do good, the more they fail.

As believers, God has written His laws in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34, 2 Corinthians 3:3).  We have the minds of Christ and we know what is pleasing to God. We should focus our minds on the grace of God, giving thanks to Jesus for all that He has done for us. We read Matthew 5:38-48 not as a set of laws to obey but as knowledge of the compassion and kindness of God and knowledge that we are sons and daughters of God. When we have this knowledge, we look forward to spending time with our Daddy God. As we develop an intimate relationship with Him, we will be transformed (Romans 12:2) by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we spend time with our Daddy God, enjoying His presence, naturally, and not knowing when and how it happened, we will find ourselves seeking to do things that lead to holiness (Romans 6:22). We become aware of our position as children of God and we want to delight our heavenly Father, knowing that He is a kind and compassionate God. We do out of our love because God first love us.

Promise

Meditate on this truth:

PromiseMeditate on this truth:

Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.  For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”[h]

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

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About lending and giving….

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4. Must Christians lend to all who ask/beg or desires to borrow?

For those who are truly needy, we should help them.  Proverbs 3:27-28 described it very well:

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.
If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” (Provbers 3:27-28)

When we help the needy, we and our children are blessed.

Jesus taught us to give so we will receive even more. (Luke 6:38). When we help others, we are storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 16:9,1 Timothy 6:18-19). Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing (Proverbs 28:27) and their children will be blessed (Psalms 37:26). Those who close their eyes to the needy will not be blessed (Proverbs 11:24, 28:27).

However, be careful…

We must know that when we lend to someone, we may never get back from them. So when you lend, do it only when you are prepared to give it away.

Most importantly, Christians must be wise enough to identify who are the truly needy. Otherise, we will fall prey to scammers. Christians are not required to give foolishly (Matthew 7:6),  nor give to a lazy person who is not in need (2 Thessalonians 3:10) nor give where giving will do more harm than good. 

Always ask the Holy Spirit in you to show you the truth. Never depend on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

However, be careful…

We must know that when we lend to someone, we may never get back from them. So when you lend, do it only when you are prepared to give it away.

Most importantly, Christians must be wise enough to identify who are the truly needy. Otherise, we will fall prey to scammers. Christians are not required to give foolishly (Matthew 7:6),  nor give to a lazy person who is not in need (2 Thessalonians 3:10) nor give where giving will do more harm than good. 

Always ask the Holy Spirit in you to show you the truth. Never depend on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

 

Note: If someone met with some misfortune and loses his ability to earn his usual salary but is trusting God to restore and is working hard to find a new way to make a living,  be very sensitive when you want to bless them. Usually such people would not borrow because they are working hard and trusting that God will restore them to greater than ever before. In such situation, when you give (when he did not ask), you may be reminding him of his lousy situation instead of helping him focus his hope on God. In such a situation, when you give, you may even be perceived as flaunting your wealth and position. The best thing to do is to encourage him and help him to be strong emotionally– to believe that God will restore and that God loves him. Of course, you can still choose to give to bless him, but do it tactfully, as a friend, not as doing for charity.

Promise

Claim this promise spoken by Jesus

PromiseClaim this promise spoken by Jesus

Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

Luke 6:35-38

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How to forgive….

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5. How to forgive our enemy who has caused immense harm?

First, we need to understand a very important truth:

This truth is that our God is a God of justice. This means that while God loves mankind, all evil doings (sin) has to be appropriately punished.  God will vindicate (Isaiah 54:17) and God will see that justice is done (Exodus 23:7). 

Did you notice

Now let’s go back to Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)

Did you notice that Jesus said in the following order:

To our enemies (who probably just dislike us and has not caused us any harm) We should love them.
To those who curse us We should do good to them.
To those who persecute us We should pray for them.

Notice that Jesus say love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who mistreat you. Did you realise that when the ill treatment towards you get worse, you are to do more for them? Why?

The reason is that God being a God of justice will ensure appropriate degree of punishment is applied base on the level of wrong a person does. Those who persecute us will have extremely severe punishment. That is why Jesus told us to pray for them. God’s justice will be so perfect that these evil people are not going to get away but they are definitely going to get the punishment that they deserve.

Faith

We have learned that faith unlocks the power of the Holy Spirit. We have also learned that when people like Joseph (the earthly father of Jesus) believed,  the bible described him as righteous. When Abraham believed, God counted him as righteous (Genesis 15:6). Now, having faith is not just about trusting that God will provide for us financially or fulfill our dreams. Having faith is believing God’s Words. God said in Jeremiah 9:24 that He delights in bringing justice and righteousness to the earth. God promises that He will avenge and vindicate His people (Deuteronomy 32:35-36, Romans 12:19). God said as believers of Jesus, God’s promise to Abraham belongs to us (Galatians 3:29). What did God promise Abraham? God promises that blessed are those who bless Abraham and cursed are those who treat him with contempt (Genesis 12:3). God says we are His people (Isaiah 51:16) and we belong to Christ (Ephesians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 3:23) and the promises to Abraham are ours too.

When we truly believe that God will not let our enemies get away because He is a God of justice, we will have the confidence that the judgement on them would be really terrible. If you feel that you do not have the faith to believe, then let’s study some scriptures:

Faith

The Pharaoh that went after the Israelites

1. The children of Israel was ill treated by Pharaoh during Moses’ time (Exodus 1:11). What happened to Pharaoh? Even when he saw all the miracles, his heart was hardened. (Exodus 14:4). What happened next? The LORD fought for the Israelites (Exodus 14:24-25). What happened to Pharaoh and all his armies in the end? The LORD swept them into the sea (Exodus 14:27) and not a single person survived.

Faith

The Battle against the Amalekites

2. While the children of Israel were at Rephidim, the Amalekites attacked them. Do you know what did the LORD promise? He said “I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14). How terrible it is to have the Creator of the universe to decide to erase them!

 

Faith

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses

3. When Moses’ sister Miriam and brother Aaron spoke against Moses who was very humble, do you know what happened? The LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and said “why are you not afraid to speak against My servant? (Numbers 12:7)”. Miriam became leprous and was shut up outside the camp for seven days.

 

Faith

The malicious men who framed Daniel

4. The commissioners, prefects and satraps were jeolous of Daniel and tricked King Darius to put Daniel into the lion’s den. The LORD sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouth. What happened to those evil men? They and their wives and children were thrown into the lion’s den and the lions devoured them. (Daniel 6:24). 

Faith

Haman’s plot to wipe out the Jews

In the days of King Xerxes,[a] who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. Haman, the most powerful official in the empire plotted to wipe out all the Jews. What happened in the end? Haman and all his ten sons were hanged (Esther 9:14).

God will fight for us. God will avenge.

The above examples tell us how our LORD God fights for His people (Exodus 14:14). Do not be discouraged when you see the wicked prosper (Psalms 37:1). Our God is Jehovah Nissi, meaning the LORD is our banner (Exodus 17:15). My child, meditate on this Name of God. Know that you are a beloved child of God, you belong to Christ. He is the LORD and He will fight for you (Isaiah 54:17). In God’s perfect timing, your enemy will be destroyed (Psalms 37:7).

When the pain is so immense…

To forgive someone who has caused immense hurts and have ruined our lives is an extremely difficult thing. It is not like forgiving someone who had gossiped about us or scolded us or said something hurting to us or break our toys…

sad abused girlSome abuse took place over many years. Some abuse happened throughout a person’s childhood or teenage days. Some actions are blatantly inhumane or may have ruined a person’s life completely.

It can be truly unimaginable for a victim to learn that such evil people could escape judgement with just a sinner’s prayer. We are made in the image of God. We yearn for justice.

Truly, no victim desires to hold on to unforgiveness to torture themselves and get some incurable disease. Rather, when the pain is so immense, the victim is in bondage. How can the victim break free from this bondage?

Let’s study the story of Joseph…

Above crying girl image by Bianca Blauth from Pixabay

Faith

God blessed Joseph so greatly that enables him to forgive his brothers

In the Bible, in Genesis 37:12-36, we read that Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. In Genesis 42:18-20, we read that when Joseph saw his brothers again (around 26-27 years later), he did not trust them. He wanted to know if his own brother, Benjamin was well and asked them to bring Benjamin back to exchange for Simeon. He wept when he heard his brothers feeling remorse over what they had done to him. This tells us how much pain was still in him. Although many bible pastors and bible teachers teach that Joseph was so perfect that he forgave his brothers and assured them that he would take care of them and their children (Genesis 50:21), we must recognise that it is God who enabled Joseph to be able to forgive.

Through all the difficult times that Joseph went through and the great blessing of becoming Prime Minister of Egypt, Joseph experienced God’s grace, power and love. He knew with absolute confidence that while he walked through all those pains, God was still in control. Everything happened so that he could save lives. This was what Joseph said: “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50:19-20). 

The above story of Joseph, we see that Joseph was still feeling the pain when he met his brothers 22 years later. Would we say that Joseph was still harbouring unforgiveness in his heart through those 22 years? Did Joseph prayed to forgive his brothers before the break through came for him to become the Prime Minister? The Bible did not say that.

Since the Bible did not say that, it means that is not a criteria to receive your restoration! Although in the story of Job and Moses, they both prayed for the people who said the wrong things, we must recognise that, those type of hurts are not as serious as selling a young brother into a foreign land to become a slave. We must recognise that God is not a God who put unbearable demands on us, expecting us to pray for our enemies when the pain is so immense. In fact, when you are yearning for justice and you force yourself to love your enemies, you are not even being truthful and just to your own soul. You will discover that the more you try to do that, the more your soul will cry out for justice, the more you will remember the painful hurts, the more you will be entangled in your pains.

 

Solution — seek refuge in God and enjoy God’s blessings

If you study the story of Joseph, you will know that the LORD was with Joseph. Know that God is close to all who suffers. So find comfort in the LORD. Let Him heal you. God will orchestrate blessings and success into your life. So enjoy all that God blesses you. As you do that, you will forget the past:

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.  God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

 

Simply enjoy your lot in life. You do not have to do anything. You do not have to force yourself to pray for your enemies. Simply stay away from people who abuse you and move on to enjoy all that God blesses you  and spend time with God.

That’s all! That’s all you need to do. Seek comfort in Jesus. Then in God’s perfect timing, you will see God’s wonderful plans unfold in your life, just like in Joseph’s life.

Be determined to let go to God

Therefore, make a decision that you will trust in God’s justice and not take revenge. Let God judge your enemies. If the pain caused to you is so immense that at this point, you could not wish anything good for your enemies, do not force yourself. Just leave it in God’s hands and enjoy the time with God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20). Even King David asked God to punish his enemies (Psalms 109:1-31) and he put his trust in God. Hold on to the confident expectation that the reward that is coming to you is so great that it will cause you to realise how special you are in God’s eyes and how much He loves you. At that time, when you have experienced God in His mighty power and grace, you will also say “am I God that I can punish?”. You will also forgive because your heavenly Father is so, so good to you.

wrongIf you are helping someone struggling in pain and unforgiveness, please do not say words  that expresses that you have no knowledge of what is pain. For example, words like:  “Forgive, because Jesus has forgiven you. ” or ” You lose your job because you did not forgive your husband who had been abusing you.”  or “Look at that person who is crippled, they are worse than your situation. Go help them.” These are words that can be written in a book or said by a pastor to thousands. However, they are not suitable for a friend to say to a friend. As a friend, or counsellor, your role is to empathise. Cry with them. Jesus wept when Martha and Mary cried over their brother’s death. You must know that someone who is living in pain and struggling to get over a prolonged abuse is imprisoned mentally. It is not easy to break free. If a few of the above words can, there will be no drug addicts in this world.

Please help them to find new hope in Christ, to stand up again and enjoy life again, to cheer up.  Assure them that God will never fail and the reward that is coming will be so, so great. It is God who will help them forgive.

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6. Wouldn’t my enemy get away when he turns to God?

If someone has done great harm to you and a troubling thought came to your mind — this person will get away when they turn to God — that thought is from the devil, deceiving you.

Let’s learn the faith that David has. This is what David wrote about his enemies:

They called for help, but no one came to their rescue.
They even cried to theLord, but he refused to answer. (Psalms 18:41)

My child, do not let the devil deceive you that those who abuse you will get away. Have the confident expectation that God will give you justice, have the faith like what David has. David never doubt God. David wrote in Psalms 55:12-14 the pain he felt when he was hurt by a close friend. Yet he put his trust in God (Psalms 55:16).He believes that God will not listen to his enemies.

Even if the person who hurt you is a believer of Jesus, know for sure that, that person will be chastise by God because God corrects His children, not to destroy them but to build them up. No chastisement is enjoyment (Hebrew 12:11). 

If that person is not a believer but belongs to the devil, then be assured that the wicked will be destroyed (Psalms 37:9-10).

Let’s examine some more scriptures.

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss

When Judas betrayed Jesus, it was money and greed that drove him to do that. However, he was completely heartless. He betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:49). He was a disciple who had followed Jesus for three years, seeing all the miracles and experiencing all the goodness of Jesus. What happened to his conscious? We read in Luke 22:3 and John 13:27 that Satan had entered Judas.

This means that if there is a person who claims to be a “Christian” and he could do things that are very inhumane to you who is his fellow brother/sister, and kept repeating his sins, it is very likely that this person was never saved and he never has the Holy Spirit in him. If he has the Holy Spirit in him, he would not be inhumane because the Holy Spirit would have stirred up a compassion in him (1 John 5:18). If he is inhumane, he does not have the Holy Spirit and the devil could enter him.

You see, since Moses’ days when the laws were instituted, the Jews were instructed to follow the laws. The Pharisees, Saduccees and scribes were people who followed the laws. However, many of them followed the laws but ignored the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith (fidelity, loyalty) (Matthew 23:23). Jesus said that these people will not enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:20). 

Now, for believers who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood (Matthew 26:27-29, Hebrews 10:17), born again as a child of God into God’s family (John 1:12, 1 John 3:9) who has God’s laws written in their hearts (Hewbrews 10:16), who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV) and has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), how could they not know God’s character and ignore justice, mercy and faithfulness(fidelity, loyalty) and continue to make sin a practice (1 John 3:9)? Even if there is such a person who, after having received the knowledge of the truth,  should still deliberately continue sinning, making sin a practise (1 John 3:9), who has no faithfulness, justice and mercy and does evil to other believers, how can they possibly enter the kingdom of God when the same compassionate God have decided that the Pharisees will not(Galatians 5:21, 6:7-8, Hebrews 10:26-30, 1 John 3:10, 5:16-17)?

Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:28-31, NKJV)

When you understand these truths — that a person who become inhumane has the devil working in him and that our God is a God of justice — there is really no need to be angry and harbour any unforgiveness that weighs you down. Meditate on these truths, read Psalms 55,  let go and let God fight for you.

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6. If I forgive and pray for them, does it mean they escape judgement?

Jesus prayed for the people who crucified him (Luke 23:34) but the Jews did suffer the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE as prophesised by Jesus (Matthew 23:37-38, 24:2).

Faith

Judas was not saved

After Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, he became remorseful and hanged himself. Was Judas saved simply because he was remorseful? He was not, according to what Jesus said in Matthew 18:7 and Luke 17:1. Despite spending three years with Jesus, Judas never believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah who come to save mankind. Instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness and having the blood of Jesus to cleanse him, he used his self effort. Why is it that despite having followed Jesus for 3 years, he did not think that Jesus died so that mankind can be forgiven? Why did he not do what the prisoner who was crucified beside Jesus did– told Jesus that he deserved to die and asked Jesus to save him? If the Holy Spirit was with Judas, the Holy Spirit would have drawn Judas to seek forgiveness from Jesus (John 6:44). 

Faith

Moses prayed for Miriam

Moses’ sister Miriam and brother Aaron spoke against Moses  and Miriam became leprous. Moses prayed for her. She has to be shut outside the camp for seven days before she was fully healed.

 

Faith

Job prayed for his friends who accused him

Job’s friends accused Job for having sinned. The LORD said to them that His anger burned against them for they have not spoken rightly of God (Job 42:7). God told them to ask Job to pray for them. Job prayed and God accepted his prayer and did not deal with Job’s friends according to their folly (Job 42:8). Then God restored the fortunes of Job  twice as much as he had before after he had prayed for his friends (Job 42:10). God blessed his latter days more than his beginning.

 

My child, let God decide the outcome. Choose not to take revenge nor wait for retribution and punishments to come upon our enemies. In Luke 9:52-55, when the people in Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus, the disciples asked if they should call fire down from heaven, Jesus rebuked them and said “you do not know what kind of spirit you are” (Luke 9:55). When we harbour negative thoughts in us, we are involved with evil spirits which will bind us and may even bring sicknesses on us.

Have faith in God that He will judge. Believe in God’s promises that He will restore and bless you. (Matthew 5:1-12). God will reward and restore you when you pray for your enemies, just like how He restored Job. When you believe, miracles will happen. Just move on and enjoy the blessings that God is bringing into your life. Keep your heart pure and enjoy the presence of God. (Matthew 5:8).

 

Remember, the moment we rejoice over our enemies having to be punished, we make them the victim and cause God to have compassion on them (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Promise

Meditate on this truth:

PromiseMeditate on this truth:

Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall;
    don’t be happy when they stumble.
For the Lord will be displeased with you
    and will turn his anger away from them.

Proverbs 24:17-18

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Jesus has redeemed us… when we are in Christ, we are without a single fault…

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

7. As a child of God, if I do wrong to someone, is God going to punish me?

If you have accepted Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour, you are a child of God, the punishment of sin is no longer upon you. Jesus had taken that punishment and paid it all for you. All your sins, past, present and future wrongs have been forgiven.

Do you see how gracious God is and how much He loves you? Jesus came to pay for all our sins and took all our punishment. If you receive and understand this message, this is the greatest good news you can ever receive in this life. This means all curses broken, all punishments gone, only goodness, mercies and blessings will follow you all the days of your life.

 

Give some thought to this. By the grace of God, Jesus has taken all your punishments. God will never punish you for your wrong doings. You are the beloved child of a kind, compassionate and all-powerful Father who dotes on you, stands by you and fights for you, how would you live your life? Do you need to go around fighting for your rights? Do you need to be stingy anymore? Especially when you know that the more you give, the more you receive.

Your Father in heaven says you are the light of the world, you are His. You do not need to follow any law to find favour in His eyes. Would you then want to cause hurt to someone to achieve your selfish desires because you know you would not be punished? Or would you be compassionate and choose not to harm people  and trust that your Daddy God will grant you your heart’s desires in due time? How will you live your life?

 

8. Does that mean we can continue to sin?

No, my child, sin has consequences.

Anyone who sin become a slave to sin

Jesus told us that anyone who sin becomes a slave to sin (John 8:34). If you have ever met people who could not get out of their addiction, and if they tell you how they got into the addiction, you will discover that it all began with a first simple act.

Do you know how sin control our lives? Let’s say someone got very angry with his wife and decide to cross the line to slap her. After that, he may struggle in guilt and try to reason out that it was the wife’s fault. Slowly, he will lose the ability to feel the sadness and pain of his wife. He may even have a wrong belief that when his wife cries, she is just putting on an act to hinder him from whatever he intended to do. He will feel irritated, find her an obstruction to his desires and not able to see her as a human. At that point, he has lost the ability to think wisely, not have any thoughts of the consequences, not even realise the cost of his actions and not able to see the disaster he is creating. He is overwhelmingly driven by his desires or objectives. Gradually, he will become more and more violent and abusive since he can no longer feel empathy and think wisely. As time goes, he will find himself under the bondage of anger. This process is the same for anyone — people who lie, people who gamble, people addicted to alcohol, people addicted to sexual immorality, people addicted to shopping…. any form of addiction or sin.

God has great plans for your life 

Beloved child, you must know that God has great plans for each and every of His children. God has great plans for you. People call this destiny. Know that God’s destiny for you is always great and good. Remember you are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). You are a lamp that God has lighted up and and will place on a stand to give light to all (Matthew 5:15). You are a city on top of a hill. Your success cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). God has a calling for your life to prosper and honor you. This is the reason why the devil will always want to pull you down, to frustrate God’s plan. Why then, my child, do you want to allow sin to come into your life to control you and prevent you from reaching your potential?

God corrects His children but He never removes His calling

God loves you. As a Father who loves His children, He corrects those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). It is not a retribution or punishment of sin. They are not intended to destroy but to build and strengthen you for greater blessings.

When you make mistakes, when you sin, God has to correct you so that you can continue your journey to fulfill the great plans God has for you. This means that when it appears that you are being punished, when you are suffering the consequences of your mistakes, know that God has not and will not remove the great plans He had for you. Abide in Jesus and you will discover that God is a very compassionate God. He will save you even in the midst of the trouble you are facing. Even when you thought you deserve those consequences, God is right there with you. This is the grace of God. This is how much God loves you.

Let’s look at the mistakes that some men of God made and see how God deal with them:

Faith

Abraham lied 

Abraham had a beautiful wife, Sarah. However, he was fearful that in Egypt the Pharaoh will harm him because of Sarah (Genesis 12:12). So he lied that Sarah was his sister. When Pharaoh discovered that that was a lie, Abraham was chased out of Egypt, leaving in shame, leaving the richest country of that time. Despite this mistake, Abraham made that same mistake again when he was living as a foreigner in Gerar. He lied to King Abimelech (Genesis 20:2). Did God punish Abraham? No, God called Abraham a prophet (Genesis 20:7) and have Abraham pray for King Abimelech. Through all the events that happened in his life, Abraham learned one truth — that God is very gracious and God loves him. This built his faith so much that when he was finally tested, he passed for his destiny (Genesis 22:8, 16).

Faith

Moses killed the Egyptian

Moses knew he has a calling to deliver his people from the abuse of the Egyptians. However, in his self effort, he act rashly and killed an Egyptian. As a result of that, he had to run away and live in exile in the land of Midian for 40 years. How do you think, that for someone who grew up in the palace would feel when he became a shepherd in a foreign land? He must have lost all hopes, thinking that he has failed the calling God has planned for him. Imagine those years when he was in the land of Midian… as he reach 50 years old, 60 years old, 70 years old and 80 years old. He must have given up and thought to himself that “so this is my life…”. However, God never give up on us and never remove the destiny He has for us. God was preparing Moses during those 40 years. At the right time, when Moses had become a humble man (Numbers 12:3) who no longer depend on his own ability, God came to Moses and he fulfilled the destiny God has for him — delivering his people out of Egypt.

Faith

Jacob lied to his father Isaac

Jacob began as a deceitful person. He deceived his father, Isaac, to get the firstborn blessings. His brother Esau, became so angry that he sought to kill him. As a result of that Isaac had to run away to his uncle Laban where he met and fell in love with Rachel. However, Jacob was tricked by Laban and he had to work 14 years to have Rachel. In total he worked 20 difficult years with Laban (Genesis 31:38-41). By the time he reunited back with his brother Esau, he was a very humble man (Genesis 33:10). Later on, his 10 sons sold his favourite son, Joseph to Egypt and lied to him that Joseph has been killed by an animal. Jacob lived mourning for Joseph for the next 22 years before they were reunited (Genesis 46:29). Jacob described his life on earth as very hard (Genesis 47:9). So you see, though God still choose him to be the father of the chosen nation, he had many difficult times. This is how this world works, you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

Faith

King David committed adultery and murder

King David was really inhumane. Despite having many wives and the power to get more women, he took Bathsheba, the wife of a faithful soldier, Uriah. After that, for fear that his sins would be found out because Bethsheba became pregnant, David plotted to have Uriah killed in the battle. He had Uriah delivered his death message personally to Joab (2 Samuel 11:14-15). Did David escape punishment? No. As a result of the evil things he did, there was killings between his sons (2 Samuel 12:10-12). What did David do? David repented. He believed that God is a compassionate God (2 Samuel 15:30, 16:11-12). What happened to David? God’s favour continues to be upon him. God restored him to his throne despite Absalom’s scheme to remove David. Above all, God honored his promise (2 Samuel 7:12-16) and Jesus came through the lineage of David.

For Christians, Jesus has taken our punishment

David lived in the time of Moses’ laws. When he sinned, he had to bear all the  punishments.

For Christians, we live in this period of God’s grace where Jesus has taken our punishment. Because of our faith, we are made righteous through the sufferings and death of Jesus. The blood of Jesus cleanse us and we are without a single fault (Colossians 1:22). Despite that, we are not spared from the consequences of our actions. We will still reap what we sow. (Note that Abraham and Jacob lived before the time of the laws, so they too lived in the time of grace). Nonetheless, we know that as we turn to God, He will always help us walk through our difficult times and will restore us.

Therefore, my child, give thanks to God for all that Jesus has done for us. Let His love heals your pains.

Love letter from GodGod loves you even when you fail

This is how gracious our LORD God is. He loves us. No matter what wrong we have done, His mercies never ceases. We can confidently, fearlessly and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favour to us sinners), that we may receive mercy for our failures and find grace to help in good time for every need (Hebrews 4:16).

We can believe that there will be appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need. Even if we have to suffer the consequences of our actions, we know that God is with us. He will carry us through. Remember that Jesus has paid it all for us. We can confidently look forward to His restoration and fulfilling of the great plans He has for our lives.  Even when we cannot feel it, we know that His words say He  is our shepherd who carry us in His arms, holding us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11). He loves us, always.

Remember

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:16

If you are not yet a Christian but would like to receive Jesus into your life, pray this prayer:

“Dear LORD Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that Your love for me has driven You to leave Your throne in heaven to come to this world to die in my place so that I can be forgiven. Thank you that You suffered and died for me. I pray that You come into my life to be my Savior. Thank you that your blood has cleansed me from all my sins and I am forgiven even as I say this prayer. I believe and declare that from this moment onwards, , I am a new creation, I am a child of God, I am forgiven, I have a new life, an eternal life. I pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can lead the victorious life that You came to give me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have said the above prayer, you are saved. You have eternal life. You are a Christian, a new creation. Old things have passed away. God is doing a new thing in your life. Start walking with Jesus (pray to Him, read the bible, believe His promises) and you are going to experience breakthroughs and miracles. Look for a church that is based on the Word of God (the Bible), that believes in the power and miracles of God and that teaches the unfailing love and grace of God.

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