Summary: God’s grace is greater than anything that has been done to you.
Title: Grace Greater Than Vengeance
Text: 2 Timothy4.14-18
CT: God’s grace is greater than anything that has been done to you.
FAS: According to Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light, as WW2 drew to a close, American took more reprisals against German soldiers. The violence of war wore down the American soldiers, especially when stories of German atrocities spread. At the Battle of the Bulge, for example, SS troops slaughtered over a hundred American soldiers after they had surrendered.
By the time the Allies reached Germany, they showed no mercy. These, after all, were the perpetrators. German soldiers flying white flags were gunned down. And when the Allies liberated concentration camps, their sense of outrage and hatred grew even more murderous.
"Still having trouble hating them?" Eisenhower asked a nervous young GI after touring Buchenwald. At Dachau, American liberators stood aside while inmates literally tore apart their guards, limb from limb. GIs gunned down many more after they surrendered.
In contrast, think about how God responded to us at the Cross of Christ. It takes a good deal of determination to murder someone. Those who plotted Jesus' death, those who bayed for it before Pilate, even the Roman soldiers who beat Jesus and then nailed him up—they did it with feeling. What had he done to deserve death by torture—or, any death at all? He threatened their sense of order, he endangered them through his heedless rhetoric, and he was a living blasphemy. They hated him enough to kill, and niceties like judicial procedure be damned.
LS: And what about God? Looking at this world that scorned and abused his own Son, and hung him up to die a slow, dangling death, how he must have hated them, enough to kill them all. Except he didn't.
Adapted from Tim Stafford, "Good Friday Meditation," Timstafford's blog (4-18-14)
I am in my fifth week of the sermon series Grace Is Greater. Today I am going to be looking at how grace is greater than vengeance.
If you are in the ministry some people don’t like you at all. How could you get into trouble talking all the time about a person people were so desperate to get rid of they nailed him to a cross.
It is not something they teach you at Bible school but it is true. People are not going to always like you and want you around. I know this to be true. Many years ago when I was leading worship for CCC I got a letter in the mail. It told me what a bad job I was doing and basically I should give it up. It wasn’t signed and I never approached the person who wrote it about to me. I was a lot younger than and took it pretty hard. But I prayed to God and let Him have it. I did find out who had written the letter but I forgave and she left the area. Lesson learned for me.
It really didn’t hurt too badly because I didn’t personally know the person who sent the letter. It did open my eyes to a lot of things. I easily forgave and wrote it off. I do still have the letter though.
But what about when it is personal and you know someone is trying to intentionally hurt you. What if it is someone you know, someone you’ve counted on, someone you trusted, someone you loved?
Let’s be more specific.
Your ex that makes life miserable.
The neighbor who makes living where you live a nightmare.
A mom who constantly yelled at you and put you down.
Your father who really just wasn’t there.
Your friend who wasn’t there when you needed them.
Your spouse who cheated on you.
Of course you’re hurt. Of course you are angry. But Paul says in the Bible,
[Screen 3] “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4.26.
It’s natural to get angry; sometimes even appropriate. But when anger turns into bitterness it becomes toxic. We need to get rid of it. What was done to you begins to shape your identity. So it is easy to understand what Paul is saying when he tells us to get rid of it. Get the anger and bitterness out of your life.
If a doctor told you had cancer you would tell him to get rid of it.
If you refuse to give grace, you can be sure that the tumor of bitterness will mutate and multiply and spread through your entire life.
Forgiveness requires we get rid of our anger and bitterness. But forgiveness needs to go further. It is more than dealing with your feelings; it is forgiving someone specific. Its one thing to release some emotions that are hurting you, it’s another to release a person who has hurt you.