Food for Friday

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, o house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11

Many years ago, when I was a cub reporter in the office of a daily newspaper, I was a bit shocked to read the column of our editor in chief. In his editorial, he was commenting on the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was president of Egypt. Our editor in chief was no admirer of Nasser, and set out to describe how Nasser was the cause of many of the ills besetting the middle east at that time. Titling his article ‘A Force of Evil Spent’, the editor explained why he was glad that Nasser was dead, and suggested that the death of Nasser was good news for most of the world. He was not alone in rejoicing at the Egyptian leader’s demise. But we know that Nasser’s death brought no joy to God, who takes no joy from anyone’s death. Neither should we.

Many people were relieved when we heard that Osama bin Laden was dead. There was comfort in knowing that his campaign of terrorism and destruction and killing of innocent people was over. We have also heard of the deaths of other criminal and cruel people with relief or satisfaction, or both. We don’t think like God does; we don’t have His compassion or desire that all should come to repentance. We all have a sense of needing to mete out revenge and retribution when we hear of terrible atrocities by wicked people. And yet, when all those wicked people died, they did not die unloved. Just as we have always been loved, even when we were far from God and with our backs and our animosities toward Him.

Pride keeps us from understanding that we were no better than the people we deem wicked and deserving of death. Only the grace of God has kept us from sinking to their level of degradation. Only the mercies of godly parents, a protective environment, and proper training, have kept us from their shameful behavior. The same nature that those folks inherited from Adam was part of our heritage, too. We are just sinners who God reached and saved. In addition, we are instructed to love our enemies and pray for those who misuse us. It’s not easy to pray for somebody and wish them dead at the same time! We don’t have the right to wish anyone ill. We should copy our Lord’s attitude toward sinners.

If we keep our attitudes sweet even against those who are sour against us, we will be a little more like our Saviour. – Jim MacIntosh

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