Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | October 29, 2014

October 29, 2914 “Angry Fists and Holy Hands”

“What I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.”   (1st Timothy 2:8)

Once while teaching on the law, which states, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’, Jesus was then asked the question “Who is my neighbor”? His response to this query was to share the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now it must be understood that the audience to which Jesus addressed this story were Jews, and Jews regarded all Samaritans as enemies. So strong was the disdain for Samaritans in the Jewish community, it was generally believed that God had created Samaritans as kindling for the fires of Hades. They were enemies. and despised. But Jesus goes so far as to elevate them in this story as loving, compassionate neighbors! Prefacing this parable was this teaching from the law to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So clearly, Jesus was laying out a much broader interpretation of this well-known law than was previously understood by the Jews, emphasizing the fact that even those generally regarded as “enemies” are to be treated in a loving fashion, and since it is paired with the first statement “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”, Jesus teaches that our attitude towards others should be akin to the same love we have for the Lord himself! Now that’s radical!  Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton noted,

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”  

We all have neighbors, and some of them are our enemies. How is love for enemies to be demonstrated? Most of us, for example, would rightly agree that terrorists are our enemies.Are they our neighbors? Jesus indicates that they are. Does loving them, however, mean that we are to take no action against their continued atrocities? Paul provides the answer in 1st Timothy 2:8 when he tells Timothy, “What I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.”  While anger is certainly justified, it should not be our only response. Our call in this spiritual warfare is to be continuous in our prayer, even for our enemies. Pray that the truth of the Gospel will penetrate their hearts. Don’t shortchange God’s ability to transform lives. After all, He did it for you and me while we were yet lost in sin! Don’t assume that he will not respond to your prayers for your enemies, that their hearts might be turned to Christ! I know and understand why there has been a lot of angry “fist shaking.” I’ve done the same. But the next time you feel like doing that towards an enemy, unclench that fist and raise those holy hands to God in prayer. God’s love is stronger than your hatred. Let’s pray!

O Lord; it is no easy task for me to love my neighbor. especially when that neighbor is also my enemy. Turn the hatred in my heart to a passionate desire for their salvation, for you did that for me while I was at enmity with you. May the love of Christ permeate my life and touch the lives of all around me, I pray, in Jesus’ Holy Name! Amen!

 

 

 

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