Monday Morning Blog with Pastor Abe

Scripture Passages from September 10th

Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven.

Romans 12:9-21: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This past Sunday, we dove into what it means for us to be the Church. If you look at our second text, Paul lays out how God wants us to live as the Church, as the people of God. I think that verses 9 and 21, the bookend verses of the passage, sum it up quite nicely. They say, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. These two verses summarize well what God is calling us to do as members of the Church. Our love needs to be genuine, and I think that is where many people think that Christians are hypocrites. We may love, but it may not seem genuine or authentic, or our motivations seem suspect. So, we need to see how God wants our love to be genuine, and it is laid out in verses 10-20 of Romans 12. We love by having zeal for the Lord, rejoicing with others, living in harmony, not taking revenge; to name a few. 

Of course, we must also hate evil. Paul does not instruct us to tolerate evil or to a blind eye to it, we must hate evil. We hate evil by not taking vengeance on those who wrong us; we must leave vengeance to the Lord, for He will repay in due time. We hate evil by holding fast to what is good, holding fast to what God has called good and by fleeing from what God detests. We hate evil by being humble in our demeanor, by not being haughty and boastful because all throughout Scripture, we can see how God hates pride and calls people righteous when they are humble and lowly. 

Finally, we hate evil by doing as Jesus instructs in our first Scripture passage, by forgiving those who sin against us. Peter must have thought he was quite sure of himself when he said seven times. Yet, Jesus tells him seventy-seven times (and in other translations it says seventy times seven, so 490 times). To me, Jesus is telling Peter that he (and consequently, we) must always forgive. See, when we do not forgive, we allow bitterness to set in, and once bitterness sets in, it can slowly eat away at our souls and we become intolerable. So, we hate evil by forgiving those who sin against us. And we must remember that forgiveness is required and trust is earned. We must forgive and we must allow for time to rebuild trust and to reconcile.

This passage is perfectly summed up in verse 21, as stated earlier. We must not let evil overcome us, and we overcome evil by doing good. And we do good because we have faith in our God who has perfectly loved us and has made us righteous by the blood of Jesus. So, my friends, let us overcome evil. Let us have faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and let us do good works as we build our relationship with our loving and gracious Lord.

Pastor Abe