I want to begin by thanking anyone who read my last article entitled “A Time to Get Mad.” Praise God because I am sure it was not easy to read about all of the issues that were frustrating me at the time. I believe with all of my heart that the issues plaguing all of us in 2021 should anger us to action, but I want it to be clear that I am not an angry person. I love God, and I love people. I hate sin. In other words, I don’t live my life looking for things to get mad about.
A Bible verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.”
This is clear; hate evil. Evil is what I am disgusted by. However, as I ended my last article, our hope should be in the soon-coming return of Jesus Christ to call us home at the rapture. We can almost hear the trumpet sound as events are unfolding so quickly that it is so hard to keep track of it all. So it makes me think, how should we live. My prayer is that we would not live our lives in anger or fear. We should live our lives practicing four principles that I believe will change the way we see things happening around us. Those principles are love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. These four principles, I believe, will offset the frustrations we feel living in this sinful world. So, with that as an introduction, let’s explore these four principles.
Here is the passage of scripture known as the love chapter:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13).
I know this is a lengthy portion of scripture, but this is our guidebook. Jesus tells us to Love God, our neighbors, and our enemies. This chapter of 1 Corinthians tells us what love looks like. There are Christians out there who have ministries, speak from the pulpits, and look like they are doing well but have lost their love for God and others. I think of social justice ministries and progressive Christianity, which includes the prosperity gospel. They might be rich in terms of earthly success, but without love, they are nothing. Love is the foundation of all that we do. When all else passes away, “the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s talk about what love looks like. First, “Love suffers long and is kind.” Love will suffer through anything. Prayer is an essential part of this because maybe someone is simply unlovable. We need to pray that we can suffer through our trials and continue to love all, even when it is hard to. We also need to be kind to others. It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. However, we need to be kind to all. We as believers need to stop being mad over things that are not Biblical and moral issues. If it is not a salvation issue or a moral issue, then we should not be getting involved because, by doing so, especially in anger, we can damage our witness to those who are lost or searching.
Next, “love does not envy.” We should not be jealous of others. Love is the remedy to this. We should rejoice over others’ success, not be envious of it. We deserve death, nothing more, nothing less. “Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” Christians should be the most humble. We should not walk around like we are better than anyone else. We are all sinners, and we need to show the lost world we are different than they are. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love never fails.” I am going to tackle this last portion together. It is easy to get angry and be rude to others who treat us that way. We need to treat them with kindness. It is certainly easy to be provoked when we are wronged, but how different would the world look at us if we respond differently. As believers, we need to rejoice in truth and know that our love can endure anything that comes our way. Love is everything. It is with love that we can show grace and mercy to others, and these are the next two principles I want to discuss.
Grace and Mercy
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).
Grace and mercy should always be presented in this order because without the grace that God bestows upon us, we cannot show mercy to others. God died for our sins because He loved us and had mercy on us. By God’s grace, we are saved, so how can we not be merciful to those around us.
I often wonder how different this world would be if we actually reached out to those around us in mercy and not in condemnation. We condemn the sin, but we will not win anyone to Jesus unless we can be merciful to them as individuals. It would be hypocritical for us not to show mercy to others yet talk of the mercy we have received. There are times when it is easier to punish those who wrong us, but our Christian walk was never meant to be easy. I contend the higher road is to show them mercy so they might actually know that we are different. When that happens, then a conversation can spark that might actually lead this individual to Jesus. Mercy and forgiveness go hand in hand, so with that, I will move on to the final principle, which is forgiveness.
Forgiveness goes hand in hand with grace and mercy. Forgiveness is given to the believer when we come to Him, confess our sins, and acknowledge that Christ is Lord. Then we turn away from our old life and walk with Jesus. But here is the thing about forgiveness: we need to forgive others just as Jesus did for us. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). How can we hold any small offense against anyone when God forgave us for so much? Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself. There is nothing we could ever do to each other that would rival what Jesus did. Yet, how many times do we choose not to forgive.
Here is a verse we need to remember: “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants'” (Matt 18:21-23).
Yes, it would be better if the offender would come and seek forgiveness, as we do when we come to Jesus, but we should forgive regardless because we are commanded to. It is better to let go, so that way, bitterness will not set up shop in one’s heart. Not only is bitterness sin, it can also rot away at one’s health. Forgiveness is very important because it ties back into the first principle I mentioned, love. Do we love our enemies enough to forgive them and let go, as Christ forgave us?
In conclusion, I firmly believe we live in a world where it is hard not to become angry over the injustices we see. And while this is normal, it does need to be kept in check. These four principles I just outlined – love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness – I believe are the keys to overcoming the anger we might be feeling over the evil this world pushes at us. We need to stand firm in Jesus Christ and allow him to work in our lives to produce the fruit that will spring forth in our lives. He alone can do the work that we cannot do on our own. Finally, we need to look up because our redemption draws near!