Aug 24

Justice and vindication are constantly in the news. That’s certainly true this week with the tragic shooting in Ferguson, MO. I’m not one that’s going to jump to conclusions and accuse people but will pray that the truth will come out. I pray for all directly involved, and for the whole community there. I pray for those who are trying to help, and for our nation as we are reminded once again of the power of Satan to incite division and violence in our world.

It is natural for us to want vindication. No healthy person wants to be wronged, or treated unjustly. And no one enjoys it when it happens. But the truth is it does happen. Though we call for and work toward justice in our land, it should not surprise us when our world falls short of that call. Jesus Himself told us it would happen this way.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

When trouble does come, it typically comes in unjust ways, and that’s when we cry out for vindication. We want someone to make things right. And we plan to hold a grudge and withhold forgiveness until it is made right and we receive the justice we deserve and are vindicated.

That certainly is the way of the world, the way of the flesh. That’s our default mode in fact, and even those who are Christians must act deliberately if we are to choose a different path. But there is a different path.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14, 17-21)

Quite frankly, we would much rather pour burning coals on their heads!! God just doesn’t seem to bring about that justice and vindication in the way we want Him to, and certainly not in the time we want it to happen. And yet that’s God’s part. Our part is returning good for evil; seeking to overcome evil with good. Our part is to forgive.

Jesus recognized this, and was willing to let things go in His own earthly life, and leave them with the Father.

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:20-23)

Are you willing to do that? Do you trust God enough to let Him handle the ones who have insulted and wronged you? Can you entrust yourself and your vindication to the only One who judges justly?

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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