On Sunday in class we were discussing graceless people in the Bible or at least people that failed to extend grace when there was an opportunity. In doing this, we discovered that we were not so good at receiving or giving grace ourselves, even though, like David and Jonah and James and John, we have received much grace from our Lord.
In Psalm 109, David has composed an imprecatory prayer to the Lord against one of his enemies. We are not made aware of who it is, but David is relentless in requests for the Lord's wrath on this individual.
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
David's enemy may well have deserved what was requested, but David was also a man that required much in the way of God's grace himself. As is often the case, we seldom think about the forgiveness and kindnesses we have been granted when we angry for being wronged.
Have you ever prayed against someone that was in your life? I have, or at least it started out that way. When I lived in Cedar Rapids, I had a boss that was impossible to live with. He would drive me crazy with the nitpicky way he treated me and the hourly employees. He would actually drive them to quit. It seemed purposeful and hate driven. I do not know what drove him to beat down people in this way, but it was not productive for our enterprise.
I took my case to the Lord. In my anger, I prayed that God would treat my boss as he was treating others. I prayed that he would get fired or that something awful would happen to him.
These prayers were, of course, counterproductive so I switched my tactics. I prayed that my boss would find another job. In a matter of weeks it happened.
I guess what I am saying is that sometimes even righteous anger fails to be graceful in it's approach. David's enemy was not going to change so he prayed that God would smite him. Initially, I knew that my boss was not going to change, so I prayed that God would take him out.
What really needed to happen was a change of venue. I think my boss was miserable in his job and so he wanted everyone to feel his pain. He needed something else to do. I'm not sure how it worked out for David's enemy, but I hope God moved him on to something more productive.
We need to approach these situations with the same grace that God shows us and accept what God does with the situation. The people in our lives are who they are - broken sinners in need of grace just like us. Accepting them where they are at and moving with grace from that point with them is what we are called to do. It is what God did for us.
Romans 5:6-11 says,
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
For no good reason, we have been blessed with forgiveness, justification and reconciliation with God. He did this for us because, despite being jerks, He loved us anyway.
And that's the hard part isn't it? Loving someone that needs to be crushed, that needs a dose of justice; that's hard. But, God does this for you and me everyday and He did it for us even before we knew we had a need. Wow.
As the old hymn says, "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."
That's the challenge. We got to show, love grace and mercy to bring people in line with God's truth.
Are we up to it? I hope so.