Devotions

Category Archives: family

The Will or Thy Will

Retaliation #6 – The Will or Thy Will
Noble Baird | Guest Services Director

On February 27, 2013, my grandpa passed away. Sadly, I was away at college when this happened, and I did not get the chance to say goodbye to him. We had a private funeral with just family. However, this was only the beginning of the heartbreak that was to affect my family. My grandpa never left a will behind to specify what would be done with all of his belongings. Having six children, five of which are in state and one that is out, you can imagine how this could be problematic; and it was. Not long after my grandpa’s funeral, my mother received a letter from an attorney hired by two of my aunts and my uncle. My mother was the head of my grandpa’s estate, which he had put in place years before his passing. This letter was the beginning of what has now been over three-year legal battle.

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus talks about this concept of retaliation. He paints a picture of what it physically looks like. In verse 39, He says, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

As followers of Christ, we are called to be His example to those around us. Not simply in the way we talk but in every aspect of our lives. Paul tells us this in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” When Paul was writing this, he was writing to his younger apprentice Timothy. Although it talks about “your youth,” this is applicable to all of us as followers of Christ in how we ought to live our lives. We ought to set an example to both believer and non-believers alike, by living a life that is reflective and glorifying Christ.

For me, my mother has been the greatest example of what Jesus teaches here. Throughout the chaos and heartache of this journey my mother has been on, she has endured. Paul writes about this endurance in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” My mother has endured, so that she can be an example of Christ’s love to her brother and sisters.

So, how will you react? When someone hurts you, will you retaliate or turn the other cheek? Instead of harsh words, will you pray for them? Instead of raising a fist, will you embrace them in a hug? Remember to endure in the example you are setting in Christ.

The Potential Prisoner

Retaliation #5 – The Potential Prisoner
Josh Lahring | Production Director

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to go in Ohio prisons to minister to inmates. While talking with the inmates, some of them will share their story. You will find that many of them are in there because they got revenge on somebody that hurt a friend or a family member.  They gave the justice they thought they deserved, and at the end of it all, it destroyed their own life.

At one point or another in our lives, we have been angry enough with someone who hurt us to want to get even. Retaliation ends up hurting us more than what was done to us to begin with. It consumes our thoughts and our life with anger and hate. For some it builds up enough to where they take action, and they will choose to take matters into their own hands.

We have been given an example of how we should treat those who hurt us. If there is anyone who should have retaliated, it is Jesus. He was beat, whipped, spit on, mocked, cursed, and nailed to a cross. Through all of that, He asked God to forgive them. He could have destroyed all of us if He wanted to, but He chose to lay His life down for our sake.

Our attitude should be that of Christ, we should pray for the ones who hurt us. Do not pray that God gives the person what they deserve; pray that He does a work in their lives, and that you can live at peace with them. Remember that God is a Just God, and His ways are beyond our understanding.

Romans 12:17-19 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

Retaliation #4

Retaliation #4
Wes McCullough | Worship Leader

Retaliation is an instinctive human response. When someone offends us, our initial reaction is to respond in kind. Sometimes we escalate our response to protect ourselves from another attack to win. However, does God want us to win?

As a young boy, I had an anger control problem. When my sisters upset me, I would lash out physically. Today I thank God for good parents who disciplined me. The result of my discipline was a mentality of considering the consequence of my choice of words and actions. Every choice comes with a consequence. Whether that consequence is good or bad depends on the choice. Everything I say and do is in pursuit of a positive consequence.

The Bible is full of instruction on what kind of choices we should make. When it comes to our words, James 3:6 says the tongue “corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s body on fire” (NIV). 1 Peter 3:9 says,Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you” (NLT). Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Matthew 5:40 says, “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

These responses seem impossible to us. Surely our emotions would get the better of us. Why would we have these unbelievable responses to those who have wronged us? Jesus loved us when we did not deserve it. When we had cursed Him, forgotten Him, or disobeyed Him, He responded with unfailing love.

God has called us not to retaliate, but to love.  “Above all, keep loving one another” (1 Peter 4:8).  “…live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18) “live generously and graciously toward others…” (Matt. 5:48 MSG). The God of grace and mercy commands us to Love those who oppose us.

Does God want us to win? Yes, but He does not want us to do the fighting. Exodus 14:14 says it plainly, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (NLT). The response God commands us to have may not always seem right, but I certainly believe the all-knowing, all-powerful God can fight my battles better than I can. “Vengeance is mine…says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Silent Retaliation

Retaliation #3 – Silent Retaliation
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

Think about a time when someone in your family wronged you. Let us be honest, conflict in the family is there. How did you handle that situation? Now as a Christ follower and person who is striving to act like Jesus in every situation that arises, I am sure you handled it in the most God honoring way; eventually. Sadly, whenever a conflict arises in my life, resolution is not the first word that comes to mind. The first word that comes to mind is retaliation. If someone wrongs me, I love running to Deuteronomy 19:21 and declaring that God wants me to exact revenge on those who hurt me. I love using Samson as an example in Judges 15 and burning people’s lives down. Now clearly these acts of aggressive retaliation are wrong, sinful, and not Christ-like. If you are one who is overly aggressive to retaliate, that is a dangerous place to be. However, there is a new modern form of retaliation that I feel destroys families at the same extent, just at a slower pace.

Think of a time where you were passively retaliating towards someone. Be honest there was a time you were upset with someone and instead of going to them like Jesus says to (Matthew 18:15-19) you are critical of the person, your humor is hostile at its core, you ignore the person, you become two faced with them, or you just unreasonably blame that person for EVERYTHING. Passive aggressiveness is becoming one of the major pitfalls in God’s people’s lives. I was searching and searching in the Bible for a good story that could be used as an example of passive retaliation, and it finally dawned on me to look back at the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Read Genesis 3 sometime and be honest, how often do you act like the Serpent. He tells half-truths. He has an issue with Adam and Eve but never comes out and addresses it. He is an enemy disguised as a friend. He is “trying to help” but his intentions are hostile to the core. Be honest this is how we handle conflict sometimes, and let us be really honest with ourselves, this is how we handle conflict with our own family.

We live in a world that tries to tell people that conflict is a bad thing, and it should be avoided at all costs. Now I am not advocating all-out war, but why would Jesus discuss conflict management? Clearly, He knew that there would be issues with God’s children; clearly, He knew we had to have a better way to deal with issues than just killing each other or cutting them out of our lives. In your family (or your life), who do you need to go chat with? Are your conflict battle tactics ruining your family because you are embodying the enemy instead of our Savior? Take some time this week to undo the mess. Take some time to gain back a family member.

I for an Eye

Retaliation #2 – I for an Eye
Phil Piasecki | Worship Leader

Have you ever been driving down the road and a car passes you going significantly above the speed limit? I am sure that has happened before, and you have probably had similar thoughts to mine. “Man, I hope that guy gets pulled over.” Then a couple of minutes later, boom! You drive by that person as they are handing their license and registration over to that state trooper. You know that person is getting their due punishment. Anyone going 100 MPH on the freeway deserves a ticket. However, that punishment is not something that is for us to decide. It takes a police officer to hand out that punishment.

In the same way, vengeance and retaliation towards sin is something that is not in our control, but it is God’s responsibility. Romans 12:17-21 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Scripture instructs us that vengeance is not ours to be had. We are not to retaliate with evil when we are sinned against. This is a command that feels so unnatural because our sin nature desires that we get revenge ourselves when we are wronged. Scripture tells us that we should actually meet the needs of our enemies instead of getting revenge. When we take this instruction and apply it to our own families, it hits even closer to home. If my wife does something that upsets me, I have no right to turn around and “pay her back” for what she has done. I am instructed to love her and forgive her. When we think about our relationships, we need to look at the example Christ gives us with the Church. Believers continually sin against God, yet He continues to love and forgive us. We need to apply that same love and forgiveness to those who wrong us in our lives. If a family member has hurt you, you need to love them. If a family member has sinned against you, you need to forgive them. There are people in this world who have done terrible things, and we can trust that God will deal with them in the way that He sees fit. Vengeance is not our job, and I am glad for that. We get the privilege of reflecting Christ’s love to a broken and hurting world. Let us strive to do that better and better each and every day.



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