The human heart longs for justice, to see evil punished: we say, “Don’t get mad; get even!” We demand that wrongs against us and our loved ones be righted, that sin be paid for, that the crooked be made straight. Our sense of injustice, that evil goes unpunished in this life, can be maddening, driving us to bitterness.
Our instinctive longing for justice is beautiful; it’s God’s image at work in us, even proving His existence, but there’s a problem: we’re unjust. We seldom see our own sins rightly, and our response to evil is usually warped; we exact more than we should.
So God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” (Ro 12:19) He wants perfect justice more than all the rest of us combined, but only He knows what it looks like.
God is perfectly just, and only God is perfectly just; He will make all the crooked places straight (Is 40:4); He will right all wrongs … even our own. It’s an awesome mystery how God’s justice and mercy work together (Ps 89:14), how He can offer eternal salvation to sinners, His own Son taking our place and satisfying His own indignation against us. We do well to receive His mercy rather than the second death, and to rejoice when others do … especially our enemies. (Mi 6:8)
How and when God makes everything right is up to Him; when He does it will be supremely satisfying, beautiful beyond thought! (Re 15:3-4) Enjoying it now in hope, before He does, glorifies Him and gives us peace.
Our Lord is a man of sorrows (Is 53:3); grief is His companion. He weeps over our sin and stubbornness (Lk 19:41-42) and He’s looking for us to be afflicted with Him. (Ez 9:4)
Does human brokenness move us to grief, sorrow and weeping? (Ps 119:158, 136) Or does a certain smugness, contempt or disdain pollute us? When we sense someone’s in error, is our first instinct to triple-check ourselves, hoping we’re missing something? Or do we jump too quickly to find fault? When we must discuss another’s brokenness, is it reluctantly … with tears? (Php 3:18-19)
Loving our neighbors as ourselves means being as grieved in others’ failings as we are in our own. In seeking holiness and truth we often find ourselves confronting and exposing brokenness, but enjoying and feeding off of this is ugliness, enmity and pride. (Php 2:3) As C.S Lewis so elegantly observes, we must not wish black was a little blacker, for soon we’ll be wishing grey was black … and in the end inherit darkness.
The high calling of God is perfection (Mt 5:48), so through Christ we strive after it by faith. (Col 1:29) Christ’s love shines through holy sorrow (Ec 7:3); without it we’re nothing. (1Co 13:1-3) Let’s fellowship with Him in His suffering (Php 3:10), giving all diligence to add this virtue to our faith. (2Pe 1:5-7) It may not seem possible to get there from here, but God is willing and able to help us. (Ep 3:20)
God is faithful (1Co 1:9): true to His word, keeping His promises, trustworthy, dependable; we can safely trust Him to do what He says He’s going to do.
We can see this both in Scripture (2Th 3:3) and in Nature: for every need He’s designed fulfillment. YHWH is good; we need Him to be faithful, and He is, more than we can know. (Je 17:7-8)
But the enemy lies to us about God’s nature, twisting God’s promises and promoting wrong expectations so when God doesn’t meet them we’re tempted to mistrust Him. Falling for his lies steals our joy and traps us in bitterness; it’s too painful.
So God set His bow in the clouds to remind us of His faithfulness (Ge 9:13); scientists still don’t fully understand how He does it. Jehovah’s gone out of His way to assure us that He’ll never break His Word; He makes no promise lightly; He puts His reputation on the line in every single one. God’s promises are exceedingly precious gifts, open doorways inviting us into His nature. (2Pe 1:4)
When I lose sleep over injustice, and recently it seems to be often, I know I’m not handling it well — it’s too painful for me(Ps 73:16); I’m letting the enemy steal my joy. (Php 4:6) It’s time for a little reminder: God is just. (Pr 2:8)
What if God always rewarded good and evil with immediate pleasure or pain, training us like Pavlov’s dogs? We’d never know the depravity of the human heart … or the goodness of God.
In order to fully reveal Himself God must allow evil to go unchecked for a season; this exposes the human heart, and provides Jehovah a venue to glorify Himself. (Ro 9:22-23) The season may be longer than we’d like, but it’s a necessity.
I remind myself that God is faithful; He will bring every secret thing out into light; all will be revealed (Mk 4:22), dealt with and straightened out. (Lk 3:5-6) He may not be as prompt we’d like, but He’s perfectly just (Ro 2:2) and His timing’s always best. (Ps 104:31) My focus is to walk worthy of Christ, in intimate fellowship with God, and leave the rest to Him. (Ro 14:4)
The Word of God is the Holy Spirit’s sword (Ep 6:17) … so God’s sword is also ours, our primary weapon in spiritual warfare. Without it we’re no threat to the enemy, more a target than a soldier. (2Ti 2:3)
And this weapon, the Word of God, is alive … powerful! (He 4:12) To be effective it must be an extension of our hearts and minds, interconnected with us (De 6:6-9) … it’s Christ Himself in us (Jn 1:14); both spirit and life. (Jn 6:63)
So how do we wield this supernatural sword? Get it into the Spirit’s hands, interconnect with it?
Christ’s example when Satan attacked Him was to quote the Word, saying repeatedly, “It is written.” (Mt 4:4, 6, 7) By hiding God’s Word in our heart we arm the Spirit for war, equipping Him to defend, protect, feed (De 8:3) and healus, cleansing us of our lies and strongholds. (Ep 5:26) It’s hard to wield this particular sword unless we can quote it, but merely memorizing scripture won’t do; we must be constantly meditating on it (Ps 1:2), saturating ourselves with God in His written Word. (Jos 1:8)
In our spiritual journey do we feel more like a target than a soldier? Struggling to keep our joyonly to find we’re constantly being taken down in worry, frustration, disappointment and fear? Perhaps we’re missing our shield.
Many helpful pieces comprise our armor, but none’s more essential in spiritual warfarethan the shield of faith. (Ep 6:16)
Above all. Above our sword, above the girding belt, above the shodden feet, salvation’s helmet and the breastplate of righteousness … we must have our shield of faith.
Faith: knowing God is for us, because He says so. (Ro 8:31)
Faith: knowing, no matter what happens, that all things work together for good to us who love God, because He says so. (Ro 8:28)
There are many dangers, toils and snares in our homeward journey, yet God is faithful. Faith is knowing God sees the end from the beginning, that He’s able to keep us from falling, and that He’ll present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24-25)
Faith is basic to spiritual life (He 11:6), but what exactly is it?
Faith is supernatural confidence (Mk 11:22), absolute assurance (He 10:22), the absence of doubt about something. (Ja 1:6) It is so inexplicably complete and strong that it becomes in itself evidence of the veracity of its object. (He 11:1) It is distinct from desire and wishful thinking; it can only be stronger or weaker in terms of the scope of what is believed, not in the strength of the belief.
Faith is God’s gift enabling us to trust Christ for eternal salvation(Ep 2:8), to abound in hope(Ro 15:13) and to access the transforming power of God. (He 10:38) It is the flip side of repentance(Ac 20:21): God’s gift of full persuasion convincing us of truth.
When we lack faith, let’s follow the disciples’ example and ask God to increase our faith. (Lk 17:5) He is able to glorify Himself in and through us. (Ep 3:20)
Repentance is central to spiritual life (Ac_20:21), but exactly what is repentance?
Repentance is God’s gift causing us to change our minds, to become convinced of truth (2Ti 2:25), or to be persuaded(Lk 16:30-31) such that our behavior changes from within. It’s different from confessing sin, admitting guilt, being sorry and trying to obey. (2Co 7:10) It’s a renewing in our heart, a new way of thinking, and only God can do it. (Ps 51:10,19:13)
Repentance is what sets us free from the stranglehold of sin in our lives, delivering us from Satan’s power to hold us captive (2Ti 2:26), so we should immediately seek this gift whenever we find ourselves not acting, feeling, thinking or believing as we should (Is 55:6); any other response is loving our darkness instead of His light. (Jn 3:19) God never tells us to set aside time to repent … that’s like setting aside time to take antidotes; the longer we hold on to the poison of sin within us the more damage it does. Thinking any other way about repentance reveals we’re missing God in a big way.
Why am I here? Alive on this earth? It’s a question we all ask; rooted in our nature. We’re driven to find purpose and meaning, but what does this mean – for life to have meaning?
If no one ever acknowledges my life, considers how I’ve lived or what I’ve done, I have no purpose. Having meaning implies being evaluated: judged.* But by whom?
In the end, Man can’t give me meaning; I can’t give myself or others purpose. Living just to please others is empty. (Ga 1:10)
Only the One Who made me gives me purpose; Jehovah designs and creates each of us for a reason, and this defines our purpose. In Him I find my race, my course. (2Ti 4:7-8)
God gives each of us unique gifts, dispositions and opportunities (1Co 12:8-11) so that we can fulfill God’s unique purpose in creating us. He commands each of us to diligence in finding our calling, making sure of it (2Pe 1:10), for it’s in leveraging my own unique design to serve and honor God the best I know how that I discover my course and run my race. (Ro 12:6-8)
I can’t spend my life trying to exercise other people’s gifts; I’m not designed to do everything for God. (Jn 21:22) What I do best is where I fit in His kingdom; it’s where I belong, for His glory. (Re 3:12)
In the end, only one thing matters: hearing God say, “Well done.” (Mt 25:23)
In giving perspective in prayer, Yeshua grounds us in the fact that we aren’t informing God of anything: He already knows what we need. (Mt 6:7-8) So it isn’t the form or quantity of our prayers that matters; the key is in our motivation. (Ja 4:3) Prayer is God inviting us into His work. (Ep 1:11)
Given this, it really makes no sense to recite prayers unless our hearts find honest, sincere expression in them. Just think how anyone else would feel if we scripted conversation like that!
Similarly, neither does praying in tongues, apart from our understanding and will, make any sense — using our bodies as passive conduits rather than expressing our hearts. (1Co 14:14-15)
To pray apart from thoughtful passion is to think wrongly of God, that He’s disinterested in our hearts, that He’d rather partition and fragment us than engage intimately with our entire being. (1Jn 5:14-15) It treats Him more like a vending machine than a loving father, like a robot responding to command stimuli, regardless of motive or source. It’s a pagan view of God.
While God delights in engaging us in His work and transforming us through prayer, He’s not limited by our ability to pray, or even our lack of prayer. (Da 4:35b) He’s actually the One moving in us to pray according to His good pleasure (Php 2:13); and when we don’t pray like we should, or don’t know how to, He is praying for us Himself according to His own will. (Ro 8:26-27)
So let’s pray like we breathe … organically, intrinsically, continuously (Ro 12:12) … telling Him everything, moving in and through Him with every pulse of our being. (Ep 4:6) Dial Him first thing in the morning, and never hang up.