Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Suffering and the Kingdom (5) - Paul

Paul embraced suffering, because he knew that it advances the Kingdom.

All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering (2 Thes 1:5).
Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Tim 1:7-9).
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5:3-4).
Rome was a dangerous city for Christians. Paul’s letter explains the way to respond to persecution and evil. His advice is challenging.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. (Rom 12:14,17).
This is easy to read, but hard to do. We must bless everyone who harms us. We must not repay those who bring evil against us. There is a good reason for this instruction.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath (Rom 12:19).
We must always leave room for God to act. If we respond with curses or violence towards those who harm us, we shut down God’s freedom to act. On the other hand, if we bless those who harm us, we release the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.

When facing evil, we must not take the situation into our own hands. We want the Holy Spirit to be active, so we must guard against words and deeds that would restrain him.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
When we do good to those who inflict evil upon, we open the way for the Holy Spirit to do good to us and to them. If they reject the Holy Spirit, they put themselves under God’s judgment.

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