Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Aug. 9-15 are provided by Cami King, a staff at Journey Community Church (Raleigh).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Kings 6:18-23
18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria.
20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 22 He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.
I can only remember two times in my life having what I would describe as an enemy. The most memorable was a boy in my 5th grade class who just wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, at the end of the school year, I’d had enough – when he took his teasing too far, I chased him all the way to the playground, socked him a good one, and shoved his head in the sand underneath the tire swings. Needless to say, he stopped bothering me after that. And now we can look back on the whole thing and laugh.
In our story for today, Elisha and the people of Israel have an opportunity to get even with their enemies. Through God’s power at work in Elisha, Israel’s enemies, the Arameans, are struck blind and led right into the middle of Israel’s camp. At this point (blind and in their enemy’s camp), the Arameans could easily have been captured and killed. But Elisha chooses a different way. Not only does Israel not put the Aramean army to death – they show them great hospitality and bless them before sending them on their way.
It’s not often that the average person has enemies in the conventional sense – but we all have people who are far from “friends” in our lives. Whether it’s an annoying person at work or the relative who always has something negative to say or even institutions that make life more difficult – for all of us a name or two likely comes to mind.
In dealing with these people, we stand to learn much from the prophet Elisha. Not only did he not get even when he had the chance, but he went so far as to be a blessing to those who opposed him. Why? Because through his kind and righteous behavior, his enemies were able to see the power of God at work, the result of which is much more valuable than vengeance. His enemies ceased to pursue him anymore and, even more importantly, quit opposing the sovereign work of God which was at work through His people Israel.
I remember reading a prayer by Scotty Smith that said, “Lord, I am certain that I want to honor you more than I want to feel vindicated.” That’s not an easy prayer to pray, but it is one that can both free us from those who oppose us and open their eyes to see God at work in one fell swoop.
Prayer: Lord, I want to honor you more than I want to feel vindicated. In every relationship or area of opposition in my life, make this prayer genuine in my heart. Help me to truly believe that loving my enemies is always the best way.
Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 4
Lunch Break Study
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Questions to Consider:
- What does it mean to bless and not curse our enemies? How might that practically play out in your life?
- How might our actions in taking revenge fail to leave room for God’s vengeance?
- Why are God’s instructions to us in verse 20 so important? What is He ultimately asking us to do?
- Our tendency when someone opposes us is to speak negatively against them and wish ill towards them (and understandably so). But instead of doing this, we are called to bless them – not only with our words but also with our actions. This could take many forms, none of which will likely be easy to do.
- When we seek revenge, we always are in sin. This is the first problem Paul instructions seek to help us avoid. But even further, God can enter into situations where we’ve been wronged and make things right in ways we often can’t imagine. Even more, He is able to change the heart of our oppressors. This is the greater victory.
- Where our natural response to opposition is to destroy the source, God calls us to not only resist that impulse but to respond with actions that bring life. Feeding the hungry and giving a drink to the thirsty are all life preserving actions. As people of God, we are called to bring life, even to the one who seeks our destruction. In so doing, we both preserve our life and theirs as well.
In what ways can you “over come evil with good” in your life right now? Who are the people around you whom God is calling you to bless even as they oppose you? Spend some time seeking the Lord about these things. Ask Him to show you practical ways to be a blessing. Ask Him to forgive you for ways you’ve breathed curses and for His love to fill your heart for your enemies. Spend some time reflecting on the cross and Jesus’ willingness to come for us when we were God’s enemies.