The Tension of doing good and hoping in God's justice
LAB Notes Refer to www.desiringgod.org/labs/god-will-deal-with-your-enemies The Questions (expanded from the given study questions) Knowing that God will judge our enemies, are we to take comfort in this? Would this be unloving? Isn't there a tension between doing good and loving our enemies, and taking comfort in God's judgement? What is Jesus' example? Are we to follow Jesus here since He is God and we are not? The answers to these are found in the phrasing module "Answering the Questions" below. A Personal Process of Answering the Question ( based and expanded upon LAB) I'm very grateful for this LAB as it is personally applicable. I find each LAB and passage brings out different tools and processes to look at the different passages in the Book. Here I approached this passage this way: Identify the main question: how do we reconcile loving enemies and taking comfort in God's vengeance? Raise associated questions (see above under "The Questions") Answer the questions tentatively, using my own cross reference where possible Look at the LAB study questions Look at LAB video Learn from things I overlooked Expand other thoughts inspired by LAB video Come to some working conclusions to guide me in the present Pray in thanksgiving and requests, asking, seeking, knocking to apply these truths to my life Observations and Lessons It would take too long to go through each item above. But here are some highlights: I love the way Dr Piper prays for help before launching into the text. I need to do this always. Things that I glance through and dismiss as too simple and silly, Dr Piper notices, pauses and works through ideas and thoughts. I need to regard and value these things that initially seem too small to me Asking the question "what did Jesus do, and then extending this to am I to follow Jesus in this regard" is also key. For this reminds me that while I am to follow Jesus, I cannot be like Jesus in all things (e.g. His divnity) There is an emotional tension between loving enemies and being comforted by God's justice. These seem to pull us into two opposite and contrary directions. This tension requires us to dig deeper, struggle with it, and ask how these two opposing thoughts can co-exist, can be complementary, can be held in tension with each other. It is similar to another large and difficult tension: the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Working Conclusions Here are my working conclusions that for now I can apply: Yes I am to take comfort and refuge in God's vengeance and justice, as Jesus did. This is because this is how other passages exhort us to do. Doing the above is not contrary to loving my enemies, but because of God's justice, I can be free to love my enemies as Jesus did.
The Tension of doing good and hoping in God's justice
1 Peter 4:4-5
With respect to this
The opposition that comes to those who follow Christ
they are surprised
when you do not join them
in the same flood of debauchery,
and they malign you;
but they will give account to him
The humble hope to sustain during unjust suffering
who is ready
to judge the living and the dead.
1 Peter 2:22-23 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten,
Christ responded to evil with good
but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
In addition, Christ entrusted Himself to the Father's justice
2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 "since indeed God considers it just ito repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who odo not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."
The Justice of God gives relief during affliction
Romans 12:19-20: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
It is for God to mete out justice, it is for us to do good to our enemies. In this way, we work together with God.
A 1 Peter 4:5 Prayer Dear God our Heavenly Father, Thank you for this lesson, from Your Word about how we can love our enemies and yet entrust ourselves to Your justice. Only through Christ, by Christ and in Christ, can we live out things that are in tension. Oh Father, work in us that we may so know intimately Your Justice and Righteousness for us to trust You when we are unfairly treated for Christ's Name sake But keep us from seeing Your Justice as a means by which we may harbour evil, hatred, and secret desire for harm. Free us to rightly see Your Judgements as that which we are to humbly and soberly accept in order in our limited capacity to be free to love enemies and leaving such conclusions to You. To live upon Your Truth is only possible if we are in Christ so seamlessly connected to this Vine that we may bear good fruit. This will be a great joy to us and a great glory to You. Oh thank You that You want this for us. We hope in Your will, Your promise Your desire, Your ability, Your wisdom, Your salvation Your sanctification. In Jesus our Messiah, who entrusted You, and in Him we do too, Amen.