WEEKLY FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“MY BRETHREN, COUNT IT ALL JOY WHEN YE FALL INTO DIVERS (VARIOUS, DIFFERENT) TEMPTATIONS, KNOWING

THIS,  THAT THE TRYING OF YOUR FAITH WORKETH PATIENCE”

JAMES 1:2,3

IN THE LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE THESE VERSES SAY,

“DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WHENEVER TROUBLE COMES YOUR WAY, LET IT BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR JOY, FOR WHEN YOUR FAITH IS TESTED, YOUR ENDURANCE HAS A CHANCE TO GROW. SO LET IT GROW, FOR WHEN YOUR ENDURANCE IS FULLY DEVELOPED, YOU WILL BE STRONG IN CHARACTER, AND READY FOR ANYTHING.”

AMEN

Amazing Love

Approaching the first Christmas after her husband died, our friend Davidene wrote a remarkable letter in which she pictured what it might have been like in heaven when Jesus was born on earth. “It was what God always knew would happen,” she wrote. “The three were one, and He had agreed to allow the fracturing of His precious unity for our sake. Heaven was left empty of God the Son.”

As Jesus taught and healed people on earth, He said, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. . . . For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:38,40).

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was the beginning of His mission on earth to demonstrate God’s love and give His life on the cross to free us from the penalty and power of sin.

“I cannot imagine actually choosing to let go of the one I loved, with whom I was one, for the sake of anyone else,” Davidene concluded. “But God did. He faced a house much emptier than mine, so that I could live in His house with Him forever.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

When Not to Rejoice

Do not gloat when your enemy falls.
Proverbs 24:17

The Akan people of Ghana have a proverb: “The lizard is not as mad with the boys who threw stones at it as with the boys who stood by and rejoiced over its fate!” Rejoicing at someone’s downfall is like participating in the cause of that downfall or even wishing more evil on the person.

That was the attitude of the Ammonites who maliciously rejoiced when the temple in Jerusalem “was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile” (Ezekiel. 25:3). For spitefully celebrating Israel’s misfortunes, the Ammonites experienced God’s displeasure, which resulted in grim consequences (verses. 4-7).

How do we react when disaster befalls our neighbor or when our neighbor gets into trouble? If she is a nice and friendly neighbor, then, of course, we will sympathize with her and go to her aid. But what if he is an unfriendly, trouble-making neighbor? Our natural tendency may be to ignore him or even secretly rejoice at his downfall.

Proverbs warns us: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” (24:17). Instead, Jesus tells us that we show His love in action when we “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (Matt. 5:44). By so doing, we imitate the perfect love of our Lord (5:48).

Just the Ticket

When a police officer stopped a woman because her young daughter was riding in a car without the required booster seat, he could have written her a ticket for a traffic violation. Instead, he asked the mother and daughter to meet him at a nearby store where he personally paid for the needed car seat. The mother was going through a difficult time and could not afford to buy a seat.

Although the woman should have received a fine for her misdemeanor, she walked away with a gift instead. Anyone who knows Christ has experienced something similar. All of us deserve a penalty for breaking God’s laws (Eccl. 7:20). Yet, because of Jesus, we experience undeserved favor from God. This favor excuses us from the ultimate consequence for our sin, which is death and eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23). “In [Jesus] we have . . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Some refer to grace as “love in action.” When the young mother experienced this, she later remarked, “I will be forever grateful! . . . And as soon as I can afford it I will be paying it forward.” This grateful and big-hearted response to the officer’s gift is an inspiring example for those of us who have received the gift of God’s grace!