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Psalm 147

 

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!


 

He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.


 

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD! (ESV)

 

Jesus Did

Johann Sebastian Bach, Kantor

28 July 2015

Pastors often struggle with the challenge of being kind and loving toward those who hate them and despise their teaching and message. It is easier to avoid them rather than to face their disapproval or outright animosity. We tend to avoid painful experiences. This is just the tendency of fallen human nature. This was not God's tendency. When Adam and Eve fell into enmity against God by disobeying His Word, God still sought them out, pursuing them in the Garden calling them by name. How easy it would have been for God to ignore those rebels and cut them off from His fellowship; a fellowship which they despised and severed. He will not act like us. He will not abandon His creatures. He puts His reputation on the line by seeking and saving those who had become lost.

 

Christ has not shown aversion to us. He has not despised or avoided our company, although He had every reason to do so. Even when He knew that that company would cause great suffering for Him, cause His death, even death on the cross, He still pursued those who despised and avoided Him. His call to us changes our relationship with those who hate us. We may not despise them any more than our Lord despised us when we hated Him. His relationship with us has been changed that our human relationships might also be changed. We are freed to give honor and regard to those whom the world neither honors nor regards. We cannot bear to despise those who despise us, because our Lord did not.

 

Our reputations are not on the line when we condescend to serve those who hate and despise us. In pursuing us with such passion, our Lord has freed us from the fear of losing our status. There is nothing to lose! For our status is not centered in ourselves, our works, our efforts, and actions. Our status is Christ's status in the sight of God: son, child, heir, and beloved. No despite or anger against us can change that. Who Christ is for us cannot be taken away by others. Who we are for them is established not by our works, but by Christ's. The loss of our status, then, is losing nothing at all. In the office of serving those in need much may be given up in sacrifice and acceptance of offense. This is Christ's way of treating us. He made Himself nothing, who had everything, that we who were nothing might do everything in Him. Church leaders then are able in Christ to give themselves up to the need of those who are weak. They suffer the animosity of others for the good of those others. Jesus did.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"I am indeed quite grieved that vices are considered to be virtues, that looking down on men and despising them should seem to be honorable and dignified. To invest iniquity with a good reputation is the devil's greatest snare and is hard to blot out. For I have often heard men taking credit to themselves because they will not go near those who are offensive to them. And yet Your Master found a glory in doing this. How often do men despise Him? How often do men show aversion toHim? Yet He never ceased running after them.

 

"Do not say, 'I cannot bear to come near those who hate me,' but say, 'I cannot bear to despise those who despise me.' This is the language of Christ's disciple, as the former is the devil's language. This makes men honorable and glorious, as the other makes them shameful and ridiculous. It is on this ground we feel admiration for Moses, because even when God said, 'Let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them' (Ex 32:10), he could not bear to despise those who had so often despised him, but said, 'But now, if you will forgive their sin- but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written' (Ex 32:32). This was owing to his being a friend of God and an imitator of Him."  

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 27
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, You accepted the animosity and anger of the world into Your holy person, extinguishing its power in Your own person. Help us not to repay evil with evil, but following our calling in you, enable us to forgive those who hate us and tell those who despise us of Your love for them. Amen.

 

For President Lee Hagan of the Missouri District of the LCMS, that he would be upheld in the holy faith

 

For those who are struggling with feelings of guilt and who need someone to condescend to them in their suffering and tell them about Christ, that the Lord Jesus would send them that person

 

For the blessing of sweet rain to water the earth and break drought, that the fruit of the earth would nourished

Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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