It’s Better to Suffer Wrong
It may be God’s will that the most difficult thing he ever calls you to do is to endure being wronged, and to do so in a way that displays Christian character. It may be that the greatest challenge of your life will be to endure injustice with meekness and patience. It may be that God’s specific calling upon you is to suffer wrong and to do so without taking vengeance and without losing the joy of your salvation. But by looking back and looking up and looking forward, you can suffer well.
It’s a verse every Christian believes in until he suffers some great wrong. It’s a verse every Christian affirms until he is called to implement it in his own life. And it’s just then that the words seem to transform from clear to opaque, the application from simple to obscure. In 1 Corinthians 6:7 Paul speaks of lawsuits between believers and says “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” It’s better to suffer injustice within the church, he says, than to harm Christ’s cause before the world. It’s better to suffer harm quietly than to express outrage publicly. If you sue a brother and win, the church has already lost.
This is just one application of a much wider principle that is repeated throughout the New Testament, a principle that calls Christians to behave with humility and meekness, even in the face of grave injustice. Christians are not to retaliate when wronged, nor to repay evil with evil, nor to curse those who harm them. Rather, we are to bear patiently through suffering and persecution, we are to endure hardship, we are to entrust ourselves to God. We are to do all of this even—and perhaps especially—when our trials come at the hands of those who profess Christ.
None of this is easy. It is no small thing to suppress our natural instinct for vengeance or to set aside our natural longing for retaliation. It is no small thing to allow ourselves to be wronged and then to meekly suffer the consequences. It may be one of the greatest challenges we are ever called to face. Yet we can be equal to the challenge if we take hold of the grace God offers us.
You Might also like
Pilgrimage to DustBy Brianna Lambert — 11 months ago
Our bodies may be driving us back towards the dust, but at the same time the Holy Spirit is inwardly pushing us along to glory. He will continue sanctifying us, until the final day, seemingly at our weakest, when our body succumbs to its physical death, we will behold the greatest victory! The beautiful chain of God’s work will be fashioned, and the sin that plagues our hearts will be cast off forever (Rom. 8:30). We will finally grasp freedom from the grief, pain, and loss in our sin-cursed world. And on that day we’ll be face to face with the one who also willingly walked towards weakness, so that we would be able to walk towards glory.
My eyes catch a glimpse of the fingers slowly dancing across my keyboard. Wrinkles web across the surface, highlighting every bump and lump. They weave up towards the rounded knuckles—the ones that gripe at me from time to time. The thinning skin that’s weathered years of toil reveals blue veins beneath. I wonder if, or when, arthritis will come to stay?
I recline in my chair and slowly roll my shoulders back and forth, attempting to free the pinched nerve from the previous night’s sleep. It’s been happening more often. The sound of grinding muscles reverberates through my head, as I try to release the tightened offender.
I’m thirty-four years old, but I’m already acutely aware of the way my body is changing. It surfaces in spurts—when I wake up, crawl out of bed, and stretch only to suffer the consequences for the rest of the day. I feel these changes when I attempt a spinning ride with my children, leave a dish too spicy, or find myself unable to keep my eyes open in the evening. Things are not as they were.
Our culture tries to convince us we can all drink from the fountain of youth. Actresses in their seventies zip themselves into the latest fashion and appear on magazines and screens. They perpetuate the con that a little makeup, Botox, and a fitness regimen can keep your youthful zeal forever. Yet it’s nothing but smoke.
The graceful arms of our favorite movie icon can no longer do all they used to do. The intelligent wit of that actor has slowed, and some of their neural connections are now non-existent as memories slip from their mind. No matter how much pampering, clean eating, or willpower we commit to on this earth, our body will continue to weaken. The curse of sin demands it. Each day we wake up, our bodies walk toward death.
Pilgrimage to Dust
As much as we don’t like to admit it, we know weakness hangs in our future. We feel it with each funeral that hits our church. We see it in our grandparents and parents who force us to view the fragility of their bodies up close. We see it in ourselves. The writer in Ecclesiastes tells us no one can escape. We all go to one place: “All are from the dust, and to dust all return” (Eccles. 3:20).
We can hide, deny, or try to avoid it, but the reality remains that our entire life is one of increasing debility. We begin our lives helpless, as babies who begin to grow in strength and power. Yet with each day, our bodies begin to cycle back to the beginning, in a rhythm that releases whatever strength we accrued in this life. Our toned muscles will eventually deteriorate. Our neural connections will gradually wane.
The Message of The Consummation: Christ, The True CenterBy Dean Davis — 6 months ago
Who or what is your center? To whom or what are you devoting your life’s time, talent, treasure, and energies as you journey through this world toward the hour of your death or the day of my Son’s return? Have you considered him: his life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, his people, and his book? Is he not, far and away, the world’s best candidate for every man’s true center? Will you not therefore turn aside and see this great sight (Ex. 3:3)?
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will wail and mourn and beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a loud blast of the trumpet; and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the skies8 to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken to his disciples shortly before his death on the cross. In them he promises that he will one day come again to the earth in order effect what theologians refer to as the Consummation of all things. At that time Christ will raise the dead, transform the living saints, judge the world in righteousness, and create new heavens and a new earth, the eternal home of the redeemed.
In the paragraphs ahead I want to highlight the central elements of Christ’s return as they are reflected in his words to the disciples. And then I want to ask a two-fold question: Why has God structured the Consummation this way, and what are we, who continue to make our journey through this life, meant to learn from it?
First, there is a darkening. God literally extinguishes the sun, moon, and stars. The result is thick darkness, the kind that engulfed the earth-in-the-deep at the dawn of creation, and a kind that will recall the spiritual darkness that engulfed all mankind through the fall of Adam (Gen. 1:1-5; Col. 1:13). But as it was in the beginning, so here: The darkness sets the stage for the appearing of light: the Light of the World, the One who will now separate all light from all darkness forever. In that day sinners will recoil from the Light, but the saints will declare that it is exceedingly good (Gen. 1:1-5; Eccl. 11:7; 2 Cor. 4:6).
Secondly, there is an appearing: above all of the Son of Man, but also of the sign, the power, and the glory that will accompany him. Because of the one Resurrection, every eye will see him (Rev. 1:7). But with the seeing of the eye, there will also be a seeing with the mind. In his Light, all will see light (Ps. 36:9). The spiritual truth that was previously made known to men and nations through creation, conscience, Christ, Scripture, and the proclamation of the Gospel will now appear: palpably, powerfully, and inescapably (Josh. 4:23-24; Is. 45:20-25; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 3:4-6; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:15).
Thirdly, there will be mourning. It will emanate from all who previously suppressed the knowledge of the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Yes, there will mourning over the loss of the things they worshiped in life, over the final collapse of the City of Man (Rev. 18). But far more dreadfully, there will be mourning over the loss of their eternal souls (Mark 8:36). Scripture itself anticipates their lament: “If only I had sought the Lord when he could be found; if only I had called on him when he was near; if only I had believed and obeyed the light by which God tested my love of the truth. For now the door is shut, and the thing that I feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25-26; Is. 55:6; Prov. 3:20-33; Matt. 25:10; John 1:9; 3:16-21; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 1:18-19; 2 Thess. 1:8; Rev. 1:7; 18:1-24).
Fourthly, there will be gathering—a gathering of his elect, a gathering of his enemies, and so a gathering of all nations (Matt. 13:30, 24:31, 25:32; Luke 19:27). It is a gathering unto judgment: unto eternal reward and eternal retribution (Matt. 25:31-46). But above all, it is a gathering unto truth: the truth about what each human being did with the light he was given during the days of his pilgrimage upon the earth (Luke 12:47; John 3:16-21; Rom. 2:1-16).
Finally, there will be centering. At the Parousia the luminaries above will be dissolved, and the earth below will be consumed in fire (Is. 34:4; Zech. 14:6; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 20:11). And then the true Center will be revealed: the High King of Heaven, seated on his glorious throne, with all men and all angels gathered before him, awaiting the final disposition of all things. Thus shall all mankind realize that the One now enthroned at the center of the physical universe is the One who has always been enthroned at the center of his Father’s affection, purpose, plan, and work. Thus shall all mankind behold the Son of God for who he is, and for what God appointed him to be: the Alpha and the Omega: the divine Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Ruler, Judge, Re-creator, Light and Life of the world.
Do we understand why God has structured the Parousia this way? And do we understand why he has told us all these things ahead of time?
Yes, in so speaking he means to instruct, equip, warn, and encourage his believing people, thereby strengthening faith, inculcating diligence, and instilling hope. But beyond this, he also means to address the unbelieving world: all people who are not yet his people. By structuring the Parousia as he has, and by revealing its structure in his Word and through his Church, he is asking beloved sinners everywhere these all-important questions:
“Who or what is your center? To whom or what are you devoting your life’s time, talent, treasure, and energies as you journey through this world toward the hour of your death or the day of my Son’s return? Have you considered him: his life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, his exaltation, his people, and his book? Is he not, far and away, the world’s best candidate for every man’s true center? Will you not therefore turn aside and see this great sight (Ex. 3:3)? Will you not earnestly inquire as to who he is and why he came? And will you not keep on asking, seeking, and knocking until you have found out for sure (Matt. 7:7-8)?
“Beloved sojourners, I tell you the truth: When the High King of Heaven comes again he will indeed be the absolute center of all things. And no tongue or pen will be able to describe the joy of those pilgrims who sought and found the Truth, and then made him the absolute center of their lives” (John 14:6; Jude 1:24).
Dean Davis lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., and is the Director of Come Let Us Reason.
The Wrong Kind of FearBy Reformation Scotland — 3 months ago
The people of God are very prone to the wrong kind of fear, when new difficulties appear to them.
What is the Wrong Kind of Fear?
God’s people are troubled with a fear that is sometimes called “slavish fear.” It arises from various sources, including the misbelief of what God has said, and forgetting what He has said concerning them. It flows also from fixing on His providence [instead of His Word], and putting the worst possible construction on it.
Another source it flows from is despondency of spirit and heartlessness. That weakens their hands in the use of lawful means for bearing their own trial and working for their own deliverance. Their faith and hope and all goes to wrack and ruin. Then there often arises an inclination to follow some unlawful means for deliverance, and even if they do not actually follow it, still the heart is naturally laid open for such a temptation. Ordinarily, complaints are the fruits of slavish fear.
To summarise, slavish fear consists in an atheistical putting of created things in a channel of independency on God, as if the creature could come and go of its own accord without commission from Him. “It is God who comforteth: who art thou that art afraid of a man that shall die, &c.?” (Isaiah 51:12). The truth is, the Lord’s people had forgotten the omnipotent power and sovereignty of God, and thought that mere humans could do with them what they pleased without God. When you are so minded, it is a hundred to one if you don’t attempt to get out from under the trial in some unlawful way.
Why do God’s People Have this Fear?
First, there is the great ignorance of God’s care for His people.
That is the cause of all their slavish fear, and it is what He challenges His people for. “Thou hast feared every day, and hast forgotten me: who art thou that art afraid of a man that shall die?” (Isaiah 51:12–13) We imagine ourselves as standing alone without God. “There feared they, where no fear was.”
The second reason is unbelief.
Thirdly, there is atheism, a growing sin, i.e., when His people think of God as like some creature, and created things like God, as if created things can work what they wish without Him. They put God above the creature in some things, and the creature above Him in some other things.
The fourth reason is, because his people yield to this fear too soon.