Early this week, a skirmish broke out on a flight traveling from Newark to Denver…
The female passenger in seat 11A wanted to recline her heat, but the male passenger in seat 12A installed a device called the “Knee Defender™” to prevent her seat from reclining. The female passenger complained to the crew, who asked the man to remove the device. He refused. The female passenger proceeded to throw a cup of water at the male passenger.
The incident ended with the plane making an emergency landing in Chicago, and the feuding passengers being led off the plane in handcuffs. The remaining passengers were nearly two hours late arriving in Denver.
Once upon a time, outrageous behavior like this would have shocked us. But not anymore… More and more adults are acting like animals; pushing and shoving each other, fighting over everything from a place in line to a flat-screen TV on Black Friday. These aren’t exactly matters of life and death—but you’d sure think so by the way people behave!
And yet, while it’s easy to point fingers and poke fun, the temptation is always there to do the same things!
When the pressure’s on and you feel threatened, “fight or flight” instincts kick in. And you hate coming out on the losing end! So we get vicious in getting what we want—and when someone steps on our toes, we become even more vicious. We quickly take matters into our own hands, to teach ‘em a lesson; make ‘em pay, put ‘em in their place for being rude and obnoxious.
And there’s nothing like the satisfaction of winning. And if you don’t win, the next best thing is that sweet revenge.
And yet, while you’re at war against everything and everyone that’s against you, you’re completely blind to the reality of God who is gracious, merciful, and loving towards all…
Let’s be frank—who wants to end up in jail over a couple inches of legroom? Who wants to end up hurt or even dead over what’s trivial in the whole scheme of things?
Amid pain and anxiety, we are so easily blinded to what is of ultimate truth and ultimate importance. Jesus fought and won the battle against sin and death. He literally took the matter of our sin into his own hands, with a nail hammered through each. Your sins are forgiven. You are a child of God.
If you’re struggling, it matters to God. It matters to God if you’re hungry or thirsty or homeless. It matters to God if you’re discouraged or scared; if people have hurt you or you’ve hurt them. So instead of taking matters into your own hands, put your matters in Jesus’ hands! God wants you to see Christ working for your eternal good through each and every one of these matters.
Faith is all about handing over to God everything that matters to you—including your life itself. And even if it feels like everything and everyone in the world is against you, God is for you.
What a great freedom that is, to know that your life is in God’s hands. What peace and what joy. “Me” is a dead end. It is possible to gain the whole world and lose your soul. “My way” leads to death. God’s way is love—and leads to life.
What is love? It is looking out for your neighbors and their needs—because God is looking out for yours. You become your neighbor’s keeper. You treat him/her as friend. You welcome him as you would Christ himself. You make friends in the low places instead of high. You make peace the priority over having it your way.
And when love is hard, you love harder.
When you come face-to-face with your enemies, and they reject you, defame you, and abuse you, do whatever good you can to them. You forgive sins—and sinners.
Everyone always says “love the sinner, hate the sin”—just make sure your putting your energy into the love part.
No matter how much you want to—and how good it might make you feel—vengeance is never an option. Vengeance is best left in God’s hands—because more often than not, you’ll burn down your own house while trying to burn down your enemy’s.
Trust God to make it right when someone does you wrong. God will deliver you from evil.
One of the biggest mistakes we’ll make in life is thinking that we can control things, to make everything come out in our favor. That’s why vengeance feels so good—and winning even better—because you’ve created a positive outcome for yourself. But no matter how rich or smart or powerful you are, you can’t make the world turn your own way—and you can never cheat death.
On the other hand, it will literally feel like dying when you love your enemies and forgive sins, or you sacrifice winning for peace. It’ll feel like dying when you sacrifice yourself to what matters to God.
It is dying. But this is exactly what Jesus wants for us—to lose our lives for his sake, to be raised up into new life. Me is a dead end—but the way of faith, hope, and love is the way of healing, the way of overcoming, the way to God.