Do the best you can to live in peace with everyone. “I am the one who punishes; I will pay people back.”
But you should do this: “If you have enemies who are hungry, give them something to eat. If you have enemies who are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this you will make them feel ashamed.”
Romans 12:18-20 (ERV) © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center
If you’re older than 20 it’s hard to forget where you were and what you were doing that day. I was sitting in my study at church. The church secretary had turned on the TV and she cried out from down the hall, the Trade Center is on fire.
My immediate thought was simply: a fire. That changed quickly. As we stood watching the first tower burning, reports started unfolding of an “accident” – an airliner had collided with the building. And, while we watched, the second plane hit.
The word “terrorism” has been part of our national vocabulary ever since.
Throughout that first day we were frustrated trying to get in touch with family and friends living in New York and the surrounding area. It was a frightening, sickening sensation, wanting to know if loved ones were alright.
Events over the past 13 years have not diminished the memory; the terror in “terrorism” and the devastation in loss have that effect.
But while the terrorists wanted to implant terror – fear which refuses to go away – for most Americans the fear was temporary; what lasts to this day is a cry for justice.
But justice is an incredibly sharp, double-edged pendulum; when it swings it will swiftly measure and exact retribution. It is much like the man who was obviously guilty and brought before the judge. With indignation he bellowed, “Judge, I want justice!” The judge calmly replied, “Sir, considering the evidence against you, I think you meant to ask for mercy.”
This is why Paul reminds us to leave vengeance or payback to the only judge equipped to handle it – God Almighty. All of us are too bent toward sin to demand justice. Osama bin Laden has been gone several years now. Although we may have felt some sense of “closure” at his death – did that really satisfy a thirst for payback?
Vengeance is like drugs, materialism or sexual perversion – nothing is ever enough; there is always a desire to push-on to the next level, go deeper and gather more. Vengeance is a dish you cannot serve cold; only God can judge justly.
So What Now?
Today marks the 13th anniversary of the attacks. Many of us are still often reminded of how different our lives became on that day:
· security measures at travel venues and sporting events.
· 9-11 speaks volumes of indelible images to our minds of tragedy and suffering
· there is distrust and presumed guilt for persons of Muslim faith.
But Paul reminds us to do [our] best to live in peace with everyone.
He suggests reversing the fear or terror factor by ministering to our enemies who are hungry and thirsty.
I can think of only one first step in any of that – relinquish! Let go of fear, anger, or distrust of others. Give it into God’s capable hands and let Him work out the justice. Place yourself in the middle of His mercy.
For You, Today…
What will you remember today?
I suggest you remember the cross of Calvary, where we were the terrorists, and Jesus forgave. Then you’ll be in a place to forgive others.