PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
How to Receive a Blessing from the Lord When You've been Mistreated by People
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Sunday, January 14, 2007 -

Isaiah 53:6-7 - “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. [7] He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

Acts 8:29-33 - “And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ [30] So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ [31] And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. [32] Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. [33] In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.’”

1 Peter 2:21-23 - “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. [22] He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. [23] When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

These three texts deal with the same theme from three different angles. First, the character of Jesus was so marked by His treatment of those who wronged Him, Isaiah actually identifies the coming Lamb by this trait(the way you might identify someone by his or her fingerprints). In the second text, we see that this response of Jesus to mistreatment was instrumental in the spreading of the gospel in the early church. And third, Peter clearly calls Christians everywhere to remember that, not only were they saved by the event of the cross, they were summoned to live by the pattern of the cross.

How can we follow the pattern of Jesus when we’re mistreated by others?

1) THE VERY FIRST STEP IS TO APPROACH THE ISSUE OF A RETALIATING SPIRIT FROM A SCRIPTURAL PERSPECTIVE

The Christian simply must recognize the lie foisted on us by the leaders and media of this age. Sticking up for our rights is made to look righteous by our world (being “true to yourself”). And sticking up for our rights actually feels righteous due to the effects of the fall on our pride.

All of this worldly mind-set must be evaluated in the light of the One who took on the form of a servant and gave up His life on the cross. Like a lamb before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. We’re called to that kind of life.

2) ALERT YOUR MIND TO CONCENTRATE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY YOU HAVE, RATHER THAN THE FAULT OF THE OTHER PERSON

Matthew 7:3 - “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

My response is always the part of any situation that I must deal with Scripturally before I give my attention to anything else. I probably can’t change my brother. I must look to what I can do, even when mistreated, to maximize my own growth in grace. I must train myself to leave it to God to do whatever He feels best with my reputation and esteem. See also Matthew 10:38-39 - “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [39] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

3) I MUST REMEMBER I CANNOT STAND IN GOD’S GRACE WITHOUT EXTENDING IT ON THE SAME TERMS I FIRST RECEIVED IT FROM HIS HAND

Matthew 6:14-15 - “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

By extending forgiveness to others I do not earn God’s forgiveness. His grace is free, and not the result of human works. However, we must all remember the distinction between what is free, and what is unconditional. Grace is free. It is never unconditional. Even in salvation, I must first of all believe. I must also repent. I must acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. All of these conditions must be met in order to receive free grace.

4) WHAT FORGIVENESS LOOKS LIKE:

a) Forgiveness is for truly guilty people. If there was some excuse for their actions against me, they may need sympathy, but they don’t need forgiveness.

b) Offering forgiveness means I won’t cherish thoughts of ill-will of bitterness against the one I’ve forgiven. See Matthew 18:33-35 on forgiving from the heart: “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' [34] And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. [35] So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

c) Forgiveness means I won’t bring the matter up with you again. See Isaiah 43:25 - “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

d) Forgiveness means I won’t tell others what you did to me. I can’t both forgive like Jesus and gossip like Satan. True forgiveness doesn’t need to be bolstered by telling others of either my goodness in forgiving or the seriousness of the sin committed against me. Both of those inward needs are nothing but the fruit of pride.

5) SEEK PEACE AND SUBDUE ENEMIES WITH LOVE

Romans 12:18-21 - “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. [19] Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ [20] To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Vengeance is always a sign of unbelief. It is the ultimate failure to trust God with your life (19). As a Christian, I won’t do anything to provoke trouble. That is, I will never intentionally initiate something designed to avenge my own personal rights.. I won’t do anything to prevent repentance where trouble already exists. That is, I won’t do anything to increase the anger or hostility in another person - Proverbs 15:1 - “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And finally, I won’t do anything to prolong trouble. That is, I will never do anything that will needlessly extend ill-will or anger in any situation - Ephesians 4:26 - “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger....”