Monday, March 22, 2021

The Lord Is the Avenger of Those Who Are Mistreated

One of the things that people today (including professing Christians) seem to greatly underestimate is how seriously God regards it when someone deliberately mistreats another person.

In fact, God says in Scripture that he himself will act as Judge and Avenger for the person who is mistreated and abused (and that includes emotional abuse as well as physical, and other ways of harming someone else too).

Here are just a few Scripture passages that point to this reality:

The apostle Paul wrote, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord WILL REPAY HIM for what he has done.” – 2 Tim. 4:14 (NIV)

And addressing another kind of wrongdoing Paul says, “Never harm or cheat a fellow believer by violating his wife, for THE LORD AVENGES all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before.” – 1 Thess. 4:6 (NLT)

In the Book of Exodus we read, “Whoever treats his father or his mother disgracefully must surely be put to death.” – Ex. 21:17 (NET)  

Even though that Old Testament command of the death penalty isn’t to be carried out in the New Covenant situation, this verse still shows how seriously sinful God considers it to be when a person violates the Fifth Commandment to HONOR one’s father and mother.

And Paul writes to the Romans,  ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’  But what if some people make it impossible to be at peace with them, what then?   Paul continues,  “Do not take revenge, my dear friends,” but that is NOT the end of the matter, as if the abusive person is going to ultimately get away with it, for what Paul writes next is extremely sobering:   “…but LEAVE ROOM FOR GOD’S WRATH, for it is written: ‘IT IS MINE TO AVENGE, I WILL REPAY’ says the Lord.” – Romans 12:18-19 (NIV)

We’re not able to really say whether the Lord’s judgment and punishments in a given situation will happen in this life or in the final judgment with its eternal consequences.  Sometimes it will be both. 

But if, in God’s providence, you are reading this post, with these divine warnings, I urge you to take them very seriously, and if they apply to you today to repent and seek forgiveness and to make things right (right with God, but also with the person you have been mistreating and sinning against), realizing that God will not be mocked, but will ensure that we reap what we sow.  

It may well be that for some reading this, the hardships and troubles you are experiencing in your life even now are part of God’s judgment already – but in this life there is still opportunity to repent, to act to make things right, and to find a gracious forgiveness.

But at some point it all becomes too late (sometimes because a person hardens their heart for so long there’s no turning back)– that’s why now is the time, and today is the day, to put things right, remembering too the Scripture that says, ‘We know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ (Heb. 10:30-31)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Augustine's Comment on His Own Culture, Applicable to Today

 This is a passage from "City of God", where Augustine summarizes the debauchery of Rome’s ruling class.   But it is extraordinary how applicable it is to our own time.....

"This is our concern, that every man be able to increase his wealth so as to supply his daily prodigalities, and so that the powerful may subject the weak for their own purposes. 

Let the poor court the rich for a living, and that under their protection they may enjoy a sluggish tranquillity; and let the rich abuse the poor as their dependants, to minister to their pride. 

Let the people applaud not those who protect their interests, but those who provide them with pleasure. Let no severe duty be commanded, no impurity forbidden. 

Let kings estimate their prosperity, not by the righteousness, but by the servility of their subjects. Let the provinces stand loyal to the kings, not as moral guides, but as lords of their possessions and purveyors of their pleasures; not with a hearty reverence, but a crooked and servile fear. 

Let the laws take cognizance rather of the injury done to another man’s property, than of that done to one’s own person. If a man be a nuisance to his neighbor, or injure his property, family, or person, let him be actionable; but in his own affairs let everyone with impunity do what he will in company with his own family, and with those who willingly join him. 

Let there be a plentiful supply of public prostitutes for every one who wishes to use them, but specially for those who are too poor to keep one for their private use. 

Let there be erected houses of the largest and most ornate description: in these let there be provided the most sumptuous banquets, where every one who pleases may, by day or night, play, drink, vomit, dissipate. 

Let there be everywhere heard the rustling of dancers, the loud, immodest laughter of the theatre; let a succession of the most cruel and the most voluptuous pleasures maintain a perpetual excitement. 

If such happiness is distasteful to any, let him be branded as a public enemy; and if any attempt to modify or put an end to it let him be silenced, banished, put an end to. 

Let these be reckoned the true gods, who procure for the people this condition of things, and preserve it when once possessed.

"It was the best criticism of our modern age I’d ever read. A society oriented entirely towards consumption and pleasure, spurning duty and virtue..."  

--  J.D. Vance (author of "Hillbilly Elegy") citing St. Augustine