Retaliation, Revenge and Relationships

One of the hardest things for any of us is to not retaliate when someone wrongs us. Everything in us wants to hurt them as badly or worse than they hurt us. Consider any argument you’ve had, especially with someone you love. If we don’t like what they said (or how they said it), we take it as a personal attack, whether it was intended that way or not. Instead of defending our position, we retaliate with a personal attack. Very quickly the argument can escalate to something that is not even what the original comment was about. When our first response is to retaliate, we risk relationships. I think that’s why God wants us to do the opposite of what our natural inclination is.

If a relationship with Him is what He seeks, and we are to be known for our love (relationships), then we shouldn’t retaliate. Instead, God asks us to do the opposite of retaliation. He asks us to bless the person who attacks us. God understands that when we bless others back instead of retaliating, we preserve the relationship. I’m not saying this is easy to do, but if we understand God’s reasoning, maybe it will cause us to pause the next time we want to retaliate. When in doubt, bless others. How you respond could help change how they view Christians and ultimately God.

Here are some verses on not retaliating.

1. Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

1 Peter 3:8-9 NLT

2. Resist revenge, and make sure that no one pays back evil in place of evil but always pursue doing what is beautiful to one another and to all the unbelievers.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 TPT

3. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:19 GNT

4. Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for his deed.”

PROVERBS 24:29 AMP

5. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.

Romans 12:17 NLT

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Bitter To Blessed

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Each of us have things go wrong in life. Each of us have those periods where it seems nothing can go right. It can get to the point of ridiculousness that all you can do is laugh at how bad things have gotten. There’s also that temptation to just give up because no matter what you do, you fail. In those periods of life our response matters. They can create good things in you like perseverance, patience, endurance, strength or they can bring out the worst like selfishness, resentfulness, anger or bitterness. Our reaction is our choice.

In the book of Ruth, we see the story of Naomi who was Ruth’s mother in law. She had been going through a rough time. Due to circumstances, she had to move her family away from their home. Some time after they arrived in their new country, her husband died and left her to raise two boys.They grew up and married. After ten years of marriage, neither of her sons were able to produce an heir and both of them died. She was left with two daughters in law to care for and no means to do it. She decided to return to her homeland, but knew there wasn’t enough to sustain all of them. She encouraged her daughters in law to stay behind in their land and to remarry. One stayed and one clung to her side and wouldn’t leave.

When they arrived back in her hometown, the people were excited to see her. They asked, “Is that really you, Naomi?” Her response was, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter… I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t.” She allowed her circumstances to make her bitter. She was so bitter that she asked them to call her “Bitter” as her name. She felt like God had abandoned her and that He didn’t even know her name. She felt alone and hurt. I wonder what would have happened to her if Ruth hadn’t made the trip back with her.

The good news is that Ruth saw the bitterness and struggles in her mother in law and refused to leave her. She became a support person for her. It wasn’t long after they arrived back in Naomi’s hometown that Ruth met Boaz. After they were married, God gave them a son. Chapter 4:14 of Ruth says, “The town women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life.” Naomi loved that baby so much that the neighborhood women started calling him “Naomi’s boy”. His real name was Obed. He would become the grandfather of King David and also part of the lineage of Jesus.

Whatever your circumstances are today, you have a choice to make. Will people call you “Bitter” or will they call you “Blessed”? While Naomi went through a time of bitterness, ultimately everything had to happen that way so that a line of future kings could be born and ultimately our savior. I don’t know what difficulties you’re facing in the present, but I know that God can use them to create an amazing future. Difficult times and periods of life are not without purpose. God has a plan for you and the future of your family. This rough patch is simply getting you into position to change you from bitter to blessed.

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Priceless

Have you ever felt like you were valued at work, home or church? It’s a great feeling to know that people see your worth. It gives you a pep in your step and makes you feel ten feet tall. Conversely, when you are undervalued, it can be demoralizing. It’s like you’re invisible and that no one cares. That’s a dangerous place to be. You feel like you could quit, give up or walk away and no one would care or notice. When you’re undervalued, you feel like your contributions don’t matter.

As Christians, we’re commanded to value everyone because every person is made in the image of God. 1 Peter 2:17 says, “Recognize the value of every person and continually show love to every believer” (TPT). That means that every person we come across has value whether we like them or not. If we can’t value them enough to share the Gospel with them, what hope do they have? Romans said that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. That means that even when our lives were an offense to Him, He valued each one of us enough to give all of Himself for our benefit.

You don’t value someone by what they can give you. Valuing someone starts with understanding that Jesus died for them as much as He did for you. When we begin to look at people the way God does, we immediately begin to see their worth. Once we have those eyes, we should be ambassadors of hope going around showing people their worth. There are plenty of people in this world who feel they have no value Because of what people have told them or how they’ve been treated. Look around today and see who needs you to show them value. It could be the person in the mirror, across the room, down the hall or on the street. Whoever it is, recognize their worth and do something or say something to let them know they’re priceless.

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Living Stones

There’s a scripture I’ve read over many times and haven’t given much thought to until today. It’s 1 Peter 2:5 that says, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple” (NLT). If you think about what stones are and how they are used, a lot jumps out at you. Stones are movable, shapable, polishable and usable. These are all things God wants to do in our lives so that He can use us for His purposes. We all have a role to play in building His church of living stones. I don’t think it was by accident Peter used the term stone. In fact, it was divinely inspired.

Think about what David picked up and used to slay the giant. It was a stone, five smooth ones to be exact. What did the Israelites take out of the Jordan river to build an altar to God so people would remember what He did? Stones. What was the Temple in the Old Testament built out of? You guessed it, stones. The Bible uses stones for many things. If you think about them as people, we’ll that’s the same things God wants to do with us as living stones. We are to be giant slayers, reminding people of all God has done and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

The thing that all these stones had in common is that they were able to be used and given a purpose. Sometimes God has to shape us before He can place us exactly where we’ll be the most effective. Sometimes that means parts of our lives will be knocked off so we’ll fit. Sometimes we will have our rough edges sanded off so we’re smooth. No matter what, we must submit to God and His purposes so we can reach our potential. Otherwise we will be stuck in the ground going nowhere. Today, ask God how He wants to use you as a living stone and see what He does.

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Preparing Mentally

You’ve probably heard someone say, “They’re heart wasn’t in it.” You’ve probably also heard someone say, “Get your mind in the game!” In both of these cases, the person was either distracted or they were not prepared for what was going on and they were suffering the consequences. In many cases, it’s very obvious when a person hasn’t prepared mentally for something. They struggle to get through it and they’re not focused. On the flip side, you can see the determination and focus of someone who came prepared with the intent on winning.

So what does that have to do with us? In John 16:33 jesus said, “In this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrow” (TPT). Somehow many of us are surprised when that happens to us. We haven’t prepared mentally for the difficult times that come into our lives. It shouldn’t come as a shock to us when we face troubles. We need to make sure we are prepared for them and that we have the heart to endure them. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “So then, prepare your hearts and minds for action!“

I know what it’s like to not be prepared for troubles and difficulties. You go through a period of being shell shocked and then it’s like you’re spending all your energy trying to play catch up. If we prepare our hearts and minds ahead of time, we get the strength to endure those times. To do that, we need to have a mindset that is ready for battle at all times. We also need to be vigilant in prayer before something happens. When we are prayed up and full of God’s Word, and when we are ready for action, we won’t be knocked out by what the world throws at us. Remember Jesus concluded John 16:33 with, “Be courageous, for I have conquered the world.”

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Listening To Others

I was recently a part of a think tank at work. We were in a room and had to solve a problem that the business is facing. After we redefined what the real problem was, it was time to find the solution. Our group let people speak and when there were good ideas, we write them down. After we decided on a solution we came up with what that would look like. The room beside us didn’t get anywhere on their problem because two guys wouldn’t listen to any ideas but their own. People offered compromises, but neither budged. The rest of their group suffered because of their inability to listen to what the other was saying.

As Christians, we can’t let pride stand in our way. It blinds us from correction God sends and becomes a roadblock in our walk with God. Listening to God is important, and so is listening to the people He puts into our lives that speak His words to us. It may not always be what we want to hear, but if we are wise, we’ll put our pride away to listen. All of my life, God has used people to speak to me. Life would have been much harder if I hadn’t learned to listen a long time ago. Consider who God has put in your life to speak to you. Have you been listening or pushing them away?

Here are some Bible verses on listening.

1. Listen to what is wise and try to understand it.

Proverbs 2:2 GNT

2. If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:31 NLT

3. Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19 GNT

4. For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have!

Mark 4:25 TPT

5. “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield (listen) to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

James 3:17 NLT

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Producing Better Fruit

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Brian Tracy is one of the world’s leading motivational speakers for sales people. He has written several books, and is known internationally. One of the things he teaches is the Law of Correspondence. It says that your outer world will always be a reflection of your inner world. That means that your actions are driven by what’s going on inside of you. If there is chaos in your mind and heart, your actions will reflect that and your life will be crazy on the outside too. Our lives produce fruit that is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

In Matthew 12:33 Jesus said, “To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears” (GNB). Every one of us bear fruit in our lives. The question is, is it good fruit or bad fruit? Our fruit is a reflection of our spiritual health. What goes on in our spirit man reflects in the fruit we bear. To have better fruit, we have to work on our spiritual health.

In my garden, I’ve noticed that the quality of the vegetables it produces is in relation to how much water it receives. When I forget to water it, there will be little to nothing being produced. What is produced during those times is undersized and not very tasty. When I add water, the plants will look differently almost over night. They will bloom quickly and produce a better harvest. It has to be constantly tended to if it is going to continuously bear good fruit.

If we fail to continuously water our spirit with the water that comes from God’s Word, we risk the same thing. Our fruit will be small and tasteless. It will reflect a dry spirit. We must take time to feed our spirit through reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer. If we are ever to escape a chaotic life end the fruit it bears, we are going to have to make time to focus on what’s going on inside of us. In time, our lives will bloom and produce the fruit that’s tasty to others and God.

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