Have you ever wanted God to smite someone? After reading the news every morning, I desperately want to ask God to express some holy wrath. Even better, He could delegate it to me! I think the world would benefit from some carefully targeted smiting, and I know just who to aim at.
Too bad God doesn’t agree with me.
Read through the Old Testament, and especially the Psalms, and you’ll notice that I’m not the only one frustrated with the status quo:
Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
Of course, sometimes God decides that enough is enough and He annihilates tribes that have degenerated into total depravity, such as the Amalekites, Sodomites, and Philistines, to name a few.
But then along comes Jesus telling us to consider ourselves blessed when we’re insulted, persecuted, and falsely accused (Matthew 5:11). We don’t even get to post some snarky comments. Instead of doing some targeted smiting, we’re to turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies! Where’s the satisfaction in that?
Still, I’ll try to remember that the next time I read the news or a social media post, or have a conversation with someone I’m convinced is either blind or intentionally evil—my job is to love. Even when we feel attacked by those
imbeciles we disagree with, we’re supposed to be kind and gentle. We’re called to exercise self-control.
As Jesus’ disciples, it is our obligation to fulfill His desires. No matter how much I want rebuke someone with a “vigorous” Facebook comment that is sure to open their eyes to the error of their opinions (and when has that ever succeeded?)—or even if I decide to leave the retaliation up to God, and simply pray that He would deliver the rebuke—I’m called to bless them.
It’s not enough to leave the smiting to God—we also have to let Him determine the timing. He’s far more patient than we are! God will get to the smiting eventually, perhaps sooner than we expect. For now, however, His current priority is the complete opposite—redemption. Even in the case of the current disasters—disease, fires, riots and murder (and note that most of these we brought on ourselves)—His goal is to gain our attention and draw us to Himself, not to destroy us.
Therefore, if I feel compelled to respond to someone’s opinion, I must figure out how my doing so will build the person up, rather than tear them down. How can I bless, not curse? How can I speak the truth in God’s love?
I’m sure that God understands our frustration, and eventually justice will be done. We need to let God handle it, as only He can see clearly what is truth and what is deception. Perhaps that’s why Paul was led to write (in Romans 12:19-21):
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.