Submission and Obedience


"Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. 'But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.'" Romans 12:19-20

When you read that verse what comes to mind? Something like getting even with a person who has wronged you? Letting him or her have a dose of their own medicine perhaps? Or maybe their becoming sick or breaking a leg, having a loved one die or being in a car accident? Maybe nothing so drastic, but still some sort of payback? Revenge is sweet, isn't it? Or, is it?

Wrongfully Accused?

Recently I went through a very difficult time with several friends. We had an on-going disagreement over an issue. No matter how hard I tried to show them why I said and did what I did, they dodged the truth and threw accusations at me that were totally untrue. After reading God's admonition that if we had a 'brother' who had anything against us, we should leave our gift at the altar and make things right first, then come back and worship Him, I attempted one more time to heal the breach between me and my friends.

So, I approached them from a different angle, though still very Biblical, because I wanted there to be no division among us. I sought their forgiveness for my part in the discussion and what ensued and told them of my forgiveness of them. Their replies were once again accusatory toward me with no acknowledgement of their part in the discussion that started everything. i was dumbfounded! What more could I do now/ I had done everything God had shown me.

It was then that God Himself spoke thus: "Enough is enough. Now I am going to take over." He told me going forward not to communicate with my friends anymore nor to discuss our situation with anyone else. He was going to deal with them Himself.

My first thought was one of dread: Will one of them lose a loved one? Will they become seriously ill? Will they have a car accident? I didn't know, but expected whatever it was to be dire.

That's when God spoke to me again. He said I should pray for them. I prayed for their souls' salvation. I prayed for their welfare. I obeyed God.

I still don't know what God is doing in their lives and may never find out, but I still pray for them. He did make clear to me one thing: He was merciful to me in my lifetime and in my finding forgiveness in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. He was going to show them mercy, as well.

Job's Example

Then He took me to the book of Job. Now, to be quite frank, that book never held much value to me as a believer in God. It always sounded like three men waxing eloquent against a man who had lost everything and was the underdog. Then Job responded, again talking at length about many things having to do with God and the creation, always claiming his innocence and righteousness. At a certain point, God intervened and chided first Job, then the three men so that Job prayed for them. Finally, God rewarded Job double for his trouble.

However, when God brought me to Job this time, everything took on a new perspective. When Job's comforters accused him of all sorts of sins that brought about the losses of his riches and family, and finally his health, they were dead wrong. In their eyes, he was solely to blame for his troubles without any evidence of mercy...and they claimed to be his friends!

In trying to make sense of his predicament and to certainly defend himself against their accusations, Job elaborated on what he had done during his lifetime that was right. He declared his personal righteousness and questioned why God failed to honor him.

That's when God Himself intervened and said, "Enough was enough!" The testing of Job's faith was ended. But, still there were those awful barbs the accusers had carefully crafted in words and hurled at Job's heart. They had found their mark every time. After a barb is removed, it leaves a scar, so those three comforters left many scars to testify to their false witness against Job.

It is then that we must look at how God managed the situation. God does not work like we do or expect of Him. He does not operate according to this world's system. It was God who had allowed the devil to work against Job, even through the instruments of three supposed friends of his to try to destroy his faith in God. Now the kingdom of God was to be manifested.

God had given the devil freedom to test Job. Certainly, God was very mindful of every word the three friends said to Job. He also heard what came from Job's mouth. God let Job's suffering continue for a while to prove Job's heart and love for God. But then God stepped back into the picture and said, "Enough!" Now He once again became audibly visible.

First, God confronted Job with how great He was and how insignificant Job was. In all that, however, God did not criticize Job nor put him down. Instead, He let Job see how small he really was in the course of universe events, and that he was dealing with the Creator of the universe. God corrected Job's conception of who God is in His omnipotence.

It was after Job's concomitant confession of his questioning God and his humble repentance that the next part of the story becomes so soul-changing. God told the three 'comforters' that they needed to bring animal sacrifices and ask Job to pray for them to deter God's wrath against them. Though He did't outright call the three men fools, God described their behavior as folly, which is the action of fools.

How to Answer Your Accuser

With that declaration, God led me to Proverbs 26:4. Wise King Solomon wrote these words thousands of years ago but long after Job lived: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him."

Clearly, Job had not had Solomon's advice at his disposal. He did answer his 'friends' by defending himself over and over again. All he gained from that discussion were more accusations. His friends were not moved or changed by Job's arguments at all. They had their own agenda and kept playing the same song. And he dug himself in deeper with his laments about his situation.

Verse 5 goes on to say, "Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes." Sorry to say, Job failed on this one, too. He played into their hands, as noted above, while maintaining his innocence. According to verse 4, the more Job answered to his friends' declarations, the more he fed their arrogance and pride. They thought themselves to be wise and discerning in their evaluation of Job, and came at him with even more lies! How wrong they were. None of the men, friends nor Job, knew that the devil was behind all of it with God's permission. The three friends were already pawns of the devil and they were attempting to make Job one, too.

It is a trick of the devil to talk us into a corner and to finally give up---on God! We must not argue with him!

Here is where God stepped back into the picture and took over. He is the One who took the bull by the horns and replied according to the thrust of the three friends' declarations of spiritual wisdom aimed at Job's heart. He told those men that in order to avert His wrath against them, they had to bring animals for sacrifice to Job so he could intercede for them.

Being wise in their own conceit, those men had to humble themselves before Job with burnt offerings, a bitter pill to swallow, and seek his prayers on their behalf. They had to eat crow! Then, when Job prayed for them, God accepted Job---He heard his prayers! What the Bible is telling us is that Job forgave his accusers from his heart and held no malice or unrighteous thoughts against them. That's why God heard Job's prayers for his friends.

But the story gets even better! After Job prayed and demonstrated his heart's forgiveness toward his friends, chapter 42:10 says, "The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends. He increased all that Job had had twofold." All Job's relatives came to celebrate the end of his suffering and each gave him one piece of money, and a ring of gold. Wow! His riches came back just like that!

In addition, God doubled the count of his flocks and herds. Best of all, Job had seven more sons and three more daughters, and those girls were beautiful to look at! Last of all, Job lived to the ripe old age of 140 years and lived to see his family grow to four generations before he died of old age.

What a restoration that was! All because Job did his revenge God's way. As correct as Job had been, God allowed him to be severely tested by the devil. He passed that test. Wrong as they were, the 'comforters' who were used by the devil, were shown mercy by God when Job prayed for them. "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16b

The Equation of Revenge

Here, my friend, is God's equation for vengeance: The wrongly-accused forgives and prays for his accusers and receives double in blessing of what he had before the test. The accuser receives mercy and grace from God through the prayers of the one whom they had accused.

What an example of our being shown mercy in the same measure that we extend mercy to false accusers. Jesus did that on the cross. How can we think to do less than He did? Vengeance is sweet, after all, when it's done God's way.

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
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