by: FCC Staff
The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
Today’s proverb is one of the clearest examples of the justice God desires for the world. Often, as we pursue justice by our own standards and abilities, we merely swap the roles around. The oppressor becomes the oppressed, and the downtrodden the tyrant.
Jesus has other ideas, a way out of this cycle of victimization. He taught us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:43-48).
Light to the eyes of the poor and the oppressor. Rain on the just and the unjust. Why is this? We have to understand that as Peter taught, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9). We love to accept that patience, that desire that no one perish, for ourselves. But we have to extend the same space for grace and mercy to others. We want justice, done now, and our way. Scripture tells us, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord,” (Romans 12:19).
We need to pray and work out what this means for each of us in our own lives. How we can accept that God gives us opportunity to come to Him, and grace enough for our struggles, and extend the same opportunity to those who do us wrong. To acknowledge we are just as undeserving of God’s grace as our enemies, and not seek to avenge ourselves on them.
It’s not easy, but we weren’t called to ease. Jesus asked God to forgive those who had nailed him to the cross. (Luke 23:34) Every time we choose forgiveness, we are trying to strive to imitate that example. Jesus cried out to the Father, so we need to acknowledge that sometimes forgiving others is not something we can do alone, but we need God’s help. It’s an act of faith. Perhaps they will see God’s mercy in it and acknowledge their need for God’s forgiveness themselves. Or perhaps that acknowledgement will only come at the end of all things when we are all before God. (1 Peter 2:12)
Either way we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) We may see repentance in this life, or justice in the world to come. But in the meantime, we need to acknowledge that in this present life, everyone has the same opportunity to come to Christ that we have.
Prayer for Today:
Father let your light show me today whom I need to forgive and from whom I need to ask forgiveness. Jesus, embolden me in your example of radical forgiveness and teach me to trust in the justice of your Father. Grant me by your Holy Spirit a peaceful heart, that I may be a good and faithful servant until the glorious day I am in your presence. Amen.