Cover to Cover
Treat them well.
Do good to them.
Act nobly toward.
Invoke blessings upon.
Pray for the happiness.
Implore God’s favor.
Who? Our enemies – those who have set themselves against us.
Jesus had just finished dealing with Pharisees, those who set themselves against Him, even trying to end His ministry. If you are a Christian, especially a leader, and you think people have tried to tear you down, you are in good company with Jesus. He didn’t struggle to love them. He really loved them, and it was love that kept any frustrations from sticking to Him. He let them go, not holding them to their ignorance, even after they hung Him on a cross. He still cried out, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Will our forgiveness excuse bad behavior of the one who is against us or did us wrong? No. We don’t call wrong as “right.” Repentance is required for reconciliation. God doesn’t want us to reconcile without repentance – does He? No. Repentance is required. However, if I hold their offense against them, then I am guilty of exalting myself as judge. We’re not the judge; God is the judge. It’s not our place to hold a charge against a brother or sister. If we do, it muddies our hearts. When we choose to authentically love, then we choose to treat well, do good, act nobly, invoke blessings, pray for their happiness, and implore God’s favor on them. Loving your enemies doesn’t benefit you; instead, God will reward you!
We know we are sons (and daughters) of the Most High, when we act like He acts. In verse 36, it says that He is “merciful, sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate.” In verse 35, He is “kind, charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked.” Any of us can be these loving things to people who love us, but God encourages us to demonstrate HIM and HIS love, even to those who don’t deserve it.
If we condemn, then we will be condemned. If we refuse to forgive, then we block God’s forgiveness. If we pronounce guilty, then we are guilty. In verse 37, “release, give up resentment, let it drop.”
When we give freedom, grace, and even monetary gifts; God promises to give back to us according to the measure of freedom we extend to others. It’s a spiritual principle (verse 38). I don’t know about you, but I enjoy giving and forgiving - free me up to receive more!
In verse 39, Jesus continues to talk about the religious leaders who have opposed His teaching. He called them “blind,” which describes someone who cannot see the truth. Pride is always at the root. I’ve seen this myself over and over where people are trapped in this religious controlling attitude and don’t even recognize it. If they are set free, then they can look back and see it. Pride will cause a person to miss the fresh wind of the Spirit.
We must receive revealed truth, and that only happens through humility. When we yield ourselves to Him, we are founded and built on an immovable rock. Whatever winds or storm come against it the foundation will not shift.
In chapter 23, a long time after Israel had rest from war in Canaan, Joshua’s body had grown old and it was time for him to depart and go be with his people. This tells me that not only did Joshua lead and conquer, but he also was able to enjoy peace in his later years. As a leader, his passing will affect the nation, so he publicly addresses the nation. What would this dying leader want to say to this nation? Joshua knew of their fear and doubt that kept them in the wilderness for forty more years. He experienced their possession of the land, fighting giants with the help of the Lord. He knew of their sin. He know of their sacrifices. Here are some highlights from Joshua’s heart:
· The Lord has fought for you, and you are witnesses of His power.
· Your tribe has received an inheritance of land where you can grow in number and strength.
· Be courageous to obey the Law.
· There will be consequences for sin.
· Do not get away from worshipping Jehovah by worshipping gods of Canaan. Hold fast to the Lord.
· Love God.
· God has kept all His promises.
While we are no longer under the curse of the old testament law, the principles still apply to us today.
· God will fight our battles on our behalf.
· God will give us responsibility and purpose.
· God will establish us.
· God wants us to be fierce in our reliant faith and courageous to trust and obey.
· We are no longer under the curse, but we still reap what we sow.
· Hold fast the Lord and worship Him throughout the joys and sorrows of life.
· Be sure that God keeps His promises.
· We are to love God. That love will keep us surrendered and aligned. If we miss it, we need to get back in a yielded and obedient position right away. He is merciful.
In chapter 24, Joshua gathers everyone together in Shechem where there was a good, natural amphitheater and spoke to the people prophetically, starting off, “Thus says the Lord God…” Part of what God says to the people is “Choose.” God has done His part, which He mentions first. Then God requires each person to make their own choice on whether they will choose to serve Him or another.
God gives each of us the right and the responsibility to choose. Neglecting to choose is a choice not to serve God. Joshua said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua proclaims his choice. Joshua also speaks for his own family that he leads. We need to honor the head of our homes. Wives, honor your husband. Children, honor your father. Listen and obey their teaching about the Lord.
Joshua warns the people that rebelling against God has severe consequences, and they respond, “No, but we will serve the Lord!”
Joshua then holds them accountable to one another, calling them witnesses of their choice, to stir each other up to follow the Lord. They again say, “The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey.”
Joshua knows if they don’t remove the idol worship, they and their children will fall into sin. The same is true for us today. If we play with sin by giving attention to a person who is tempting us, if we watch things we shouldn’t watch, listen to things we shouldn’t listen to, or do things we shouldn’t do – we’re going to fall. Don’t be proud and think that it won’t happen. Don’t silence conviction if the Holy Spirit is nudging us to turn away from something. Be quick to obey and quick to repent!
There is so much for us to learn AND apply from God’s Word. It is wise to read the Bible as a way to keep our minds and hearts lined up with God and His truth. The Holy Spirit will use the Word to keep us on track and keep us in position to walk in the fullness of God’s life. Thank God for His Word!