Sometimes the cheater still comes out ahead

Sometimes the cheater still comes out ahead

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

Sometimes the bad guy wins. There really is a rodeo judge out there that has it in for someone and successfully screws the cowboy over every chance he gets. There really is someone lying and cheating their way to get ahead of you at work. Some of you are victims of crimes in which the person got away with it or the punishment just didn’t seem like enough.

When I get to teach something and it’s one of the ‘difficult’ Bible verses like the one that you’re about to read, I get it. I know it’s easy for me to teach it but it doesn’t mean it’s always any easier for me to live it out when I’m standing there asking you to try.

Romans 12: 19-21 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.

This is honestly harder for me to say than you might think because I don’t want to share the bad thoughts as someone who is in a position to teach and minister to you but this is my reality right now: there is someone out there that a small part of me would take satisfaction in taking a swing at with my baseball bat. I’m not joking. And it troubles me that as mature as I would like to be in my faith, that I’m still capable of a thought like this, though I’m grateful and want to be clear it is a small part of me and I would never take that action.

But what it shows about me is that I do get it when I teach verses like this. I’m not asking you guys to do things I either presently find hard or have had a chance to work through myself as I’ve learned more about what’s in the Bible.

It’s hard to see someone get away with evil and be satisfied that God will take care of it when the systems in place fail. But here’s the deal. Adam and Eve decided in the garden they wanted the same knowledge as God and allowed sin to be a part of our world. They wanted to be able to judge for themselves what is right and wrong, rather than leave it to God. It’s a natural part of being human but as Christians, we’re made new and meant to be becoming more like Jesus and less like our old selves.

When we’re dealing with Christians who do wrong to others, there are several Biblical responses to that including church discipline e and a process to make the situation right. A Christian who is truly saved would want to follow these steps, particularly ones laid out in Matthew 18:15-20.

For non-believers, there are two outcomes for someone who has done evil to you, they will repent through God’s grace and mercy

or they will face God’s judgement and spend eternity in hell.

I have a hard time taking comfort or being at peace with someone who has wronged me enough to want to hit them with a bat, suffering for eternity in hell when I know I’ve been forgiven of my wrongs and received God’s grace and mercy through Jesus’s death and resurrection and my own repentance and saving faith in him.

Right now, I’m also having a hard time with the idea of showing kindness to the people who have done evil but they deserve the shot at salvation I received and while they haven’t received the justice that I would hope for them, they don’t find Jesus the lord of their life, hell is the reality they face.

While those verses in Romans are not teaching this, while I continue to wrestle with God’s direction for me to repay evil with kindness, what I can do in the meantime is follow other Biblical teaching that directs us to treat others with kindness so that they could come to saving faith in Jesus.

It doesn’t take away my responsibility to work through these verses and adopt them into how I approach the evil that we do in this world, but it does provide a positive outcome that can impact the world around us for Jesus.

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