Forgive me, if you will, for not having a devotional yesterday (I suppose I should call these near-daily or almost daily devotionals, hmmm?), but my day off wasn't exactly that, as I had meetings, watching the kids solo while my wife worked, and getting the kiddos ready for their first day of school. While I slept (scant hours they may be), something happened that has rocked me to my core. A friend from High School, someone I had not seen or talked to in nearly 2 decades, was shot and killed while in service to the California Highway Patrol. My first instinct was disbelief. I ignored the source of the post, saying "I know that guy..." I didn't want to or couldn't process it. Then I went about (and still am) talking about it with friends from High School that I am still in touch with. Now, I want to blame politicians, the media, and celebrities (as well as a constant wave of others) for perpetuating hatred against law enforcers. I want to, but I know that this is wrong. No matter who we want to lay blame to, the answer lies in ourselves. A buddy ended our conversation with "this world of ours is a mess, brother," and boy, I'll tell you what, that is the truth. How should we respond when things don't go how we expect, or they're just flat out wrong? Job said (when losing all things in a single day): " 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." As hard as that response is, that shows a sense of a man who knew his place in God's order of things. Job understood that all belonged to the Lord, and we're not owed a single thing. He may have asked God to give an account of Himself, but he NEVER blamed God, or even the Chaldeans, or anything else for that matter. Job stood in perspective to the Almighty. As Believers, we ought to do the same. We need to look at ourselves, and understand one thing: He is God, we are not. Our enemies are not flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-20), and so we ought not to seek vengeance against those who wrong us, but rather stand our spiritual ground against the spiritual forces behind the acts. Instead, we need to read Romans 12 over, "Bless those who curse you. Bless and do not curse them," and "On the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for in so doing you will pour hot coals over his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Hate and retaliation cause escalation. Love cancels debts. And that is what forgiveness means, cancelling the debts owed against us ( "and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" Matthew 6:12). Hate can't drive out hate. Vengeance cannot cause peace. Love covers a multitude of sins. And the Christian Response should always be love.
Ecclesiastes 3 English Standard Version (ESV)
A Time for Everything
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]
From Dust to Dust
16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.[b] 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
a. Ecclesiastes 3:15 Hebrew what has been pursued