Questions for Littles: What are we to do with those who persecute us (v14a)? What are we not to do (v14b)? What are we to do with those who rejoice (v15a)? What are we to do with those who weep (15b)? What kind of mind are we to seek to have together (16a)? With whom should we be willing to associate (16b)? What are we not to think of ourselves (16c)? What are we not to repay (v17)? To whom are we to provide good things? What are we to do if possible (v18)? What are we not to do (v19)? To whom does vengeance belong? What are we to do with our enemy (v20)? What does this end up doing upon him? What does good like this do to evil (v21)?In our epistle reading this week, we rapidly receive many commands.
They are simple commands, but that is not the same thing as easy commands!
When someone persecutes us, we have an assignment from God: speak well of them.
When our brother or sister rejoices, we have an assignment from God: rejoice with them.
When our brother weeps, we have an assignment from God: weep with them.
When someone does us evil, we have an assignment from God: provide them good things in the sight of all men.
When someone is hostile to us, we have an assignment from God: do what we rightly can to be at peace with them.
If our enemy is hungry, we have an assignment from God: feed him.
If our enemy is thirsty, we have an assignment from God: give him drink.
This is not surrender but overcoming: stirring up the wrath of God more against the enemy, if he does not repent.
The key to all of this is to be of the same mind to one another—that we don’t view ourselves as higher and some others as lower, but exercise humility.
Of course, the startling thing here is the “one another” of v15. This implies that v14 did not abruptly begin a new section on how to deal with people outside the church. Rather, v14-21 is recognizing that there will be people who treat us like this from within the church!
So, let us not be surprised when what God has warned actually happens! Instead, let us realize that this is part of being in a group of sinners, and let us recognize that the Lord has given us a bunch of simple (not easy!) commands for what to do. Our assignment is clear!
Which of these “assignments” have you been neglecting? What are you going to do about it?Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”