June 17, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Thy Loving Kindness”

Jeremiah 12:14-17

This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.

The other day I was at a playground with my five-year old twins.  They had just received some bubbles as a goodbye present from their preschool teacher and were eager to take these puppies out for a ride.  As they started blowing bubbles, a crowd of children began to gather around them hoping to pop some bubbles.  (For the life of me, I don’t understand why children have this rabid love for bubbles.)  Anyway, one of these kids was a girl who was probably about three years old and, not being satisfied with merely popping bubbles, she wanted to be the bubble maker—so she tried to take the bubble wand from my daughter’s hand.  Now, this is where parenting gets kind of awkward, because my daughter Abbie is just looking at this girl like, “Back up, I’m bigger than you.  You can’t have my bubbles, and if my dad weren’t right there, I’d hammer you.”  Meanwhile, this other girl is kind of throwing a fit, and her dad seemed to not really know how to handle her when she gets this way.  So I suggest, “Abbie, maybe you can let that little girl have a turn.  Let her blow bubbles two times.”  I kid you not, Abbie looks at me like I sold her to a band of gypsies or something; I could tell she was thinking something like, “Dad, I thought I was your daughter!  Why are you being so nice to her?”  For whatever reason my kindness to this other girl, felt like meanness to my daughter.

Oftentimes when I read the OT, I feel like the other nations like the Philistines, or the Edomites, or the Amorites, or in this case, the Babylonians, are like extras or worse, villains in a movie where God and his people are supposed to be stars. Who cares what happens to the extras, and we certainly don’t hope for good outcomes for the villains, right?  But I forget that these surrounding nations were filled with real people, also made in the image of God.  And so sometimes, when I read passages like today’s, I’m like my daughter, I look at the Lord’s kindness to these pagan nations and think, “Why are you being so nice to them?  Why are you promising to restore them and give them a chance?  The Hebrews are your people.”  In other words, I mistake his kindness to them as meanness to us.

When Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44), who do you think of?  Perhaps it’s Islamic terrorists, especially in the Middle-east.  Perhaps Communist regimes in China or North Korea.  Maybe it’s not that extreme, perhaps it’s that selfish co-worker who’s willing to throw everyone under the bus so that he doesn’t look bad in any situation, or your next-door neighbor who always calls the city on you if small group is going too long or too late, or the car mechanic who you felt like just ripped you off?  I don’t know, but let me ask you this: If the Lord showed kindness to them, would it feel like meanness to you?

Prayer: Lord this morning, I want to pray for ____________; he/she has been making life difficult for me.  I pray that you would enter their life and bless them.  Also help me to see people the way you see them.

Bible Reading for Today:  Ezekiel 24

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