Nov 21, 2021. I Thessalonians 5:15

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RETURNING GOOD FOR EVIL.  I Thessalonians 5:15.  11/21/2021. #17.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 [New King James Version]

15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

  • Evil vs. justice
    • This is a personal commandment
      •  We are not to take vengeance upon ourselves
        •  We are actually to do good to our enemies
    • Returning good for evil does not eliminate justice
      •  A proper government will punish criminals
        •  Parents are to discipline their children (this is a good intent endeavor for correction and training)
        •  Church discipline is important to protect flock
    • This does not promote a doormat Christianity
      •  Jesus scourged thieves in the Temple
        •  Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives for lying to the Holy Spirit
        •  I Corinthians 5 Paul encouraged severe discipline for the man who was intimate with his stepmother
  • The unnatural reaction
    • Our flesh wants to avenge ourselves when we are injured or disrespected by others
      •  We feel justified in our attitudes and actions
        •  We desire an immediate response
    • Our emotions, pride, and sense of fairness/justice combine to seek an “evening of the score” or meting our deserved punishment and consequences
    • God must command us to refrain from avenging ourselves and actually returning kindness for spite
  • Higher purpose living
    • Our calling is on a higher plane than seeking vengeance
      •  Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus stated that if we responded to  others as they responded to us, we do no more than what the average unsaved does
        •  There is a greater testimony in forgiving, serving those who abuse us, and seeking the good of all
    • 4 earthly authorities:
      •  Family (in charge of training children-Ephesians 6:1-4)
        •  Government (Romans 13–in charge of justice)
        •  Church leadership (I Timothy 3 – spiritual training)
        •  Employer (Ephesians 6:5–directs economic life)
    • When the 4 earthly authorities fail to intervene, one is not to take matters into own hands
      •  Romans 12:17-21 only God has the authority and wisdom to mete out proper judgment
        •  Our calling is to righteousness, returning good for evil (Romans 12:20-21 overcoming good with evil)
    • Righteousness is proactive and immaterial of feelings
      •  Someone takes your coat, give him your cloak as well
        •  Love those who spitefully use you
        •  Give to those who ask of you without expecting return (balanced with II Thessalonians 3–man to work)
    • Righteousness has the purpose of demonstrating goodness to a lost
      •  Philippians 4:5-7 like peace, such active live is of a supernatural origin
        •  To love those who hate us mimics Christ
    • Examples of returning good for evil:
      •  Jesus forgives his enemies from the cross
        •  Stephen forgives his executioners at his stoning
        •  Jesus heals the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, after Peter had cut it off
    • Application of this principle is very practical
      •  If someone compels you to go one mile, go with him two (voluntary investment in an abuser releases bitterness and signals that you refuse to be an enemy of your abuser)
        •  I Corinthians 6 giving up your right to sue for damages
    • By doing good to our enemies we give place for God’s wrath and allow for natural consequences (Galatians 6:7-9)
      •  If we trust the Lord with our salvation, we can trust him with justice
        •  The process of turning abuse over to the Lord is an act of faith and trust
    • By investing in the lives of our enemies, we allow God to bring circumstances into their lives that give opportunity for them to turn to us for answers (I Peter 3:15)
      •  We are not called to avenge ourselves, but rather to minister to others in the name of the Lord
        •  We must learn to deal properly with our feelings of violation, rage, vengeance, and entitlement

Key verse:  Matthew 5:38-4838 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.