Do not “Rejoice with Iniquity!”

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“They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.” (Hosea 4:8/KJV)

The prophet here is referring to the priests of the Israelites in his time. Sadly these priests did not teach the people God’s truth. They did not help them avoid sinning against God’s commandments.

Although the shrines of the Israelites, i.e. in the Northern kingdom, were kind of idolatrous at the time, the priests still could have exercised some moral authority. Yet they did not do that.

God holds the priests (at least partly) responsible for the sins of the people. The amount of lying, stealing, killings and committing adulteries would not be the same had the priests done a better job.

Yet obviously these were priests who took advantage of the situation. They did their part to lead the people further away from the knowledge of the God of Israel.

It is quite possible that some Israelites would bring sin offerings to the shrine seeking to be released from guilt. According to the Mosaic Law priests were allowed to eat of some of the sin offerings. This gave the priests an (additional) opportunity to fill their stomachs with meat.

The Hebrew word translated ‘sin’ also can refer to an offering. The word translated ‘iniquity’ could also refer to a punishment for wrongdoings.

Obviously these priests were taking advantage of the sins of the people. Hosea is blaming them for that.

The Calling of New Testament Believers

New Testament believers are referred to as a “royal priesthood” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). God wants us to pray and intercede for the people around us.

Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13/NIV).

Jesus wanted believers to be a good example of how to live. Looking at them people should be able to get an idea of godliness and good works.

“You are the light of the world A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before them, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14+15/NIV).

 

Christians ought not to point others into the wrong direction. We must not set up any system that allows us take advantage of the sins of other people.

We are to do our part in lovingly telling others about God’s commandments, His love and His grace. We are to help them receive forgiveness from God and learn to live a godly life.

Looking at our lives people ought to be able to get some kind of idea of the practical outworking of the ethical standards of the bible. The church is called to speak up for truth, for righteousness and for justice.

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When Somebody Else Causes You Trouble…

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“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.” (Proverbs 24:17/KJV).

These words are pretty plain. But why accept them as sound advice?

  1. First of all: You do not know the outcome of this situation. There is no guarantee that the present problems of your enemy will turn out to be of any real advantage for you.
  2. You better take care not to b e carried away by your emotions.  Anybody who manages to soundly observe and analyse his circumstances is better off. As you are facing a conflict any little foolishness might aggravate your problems.
  3. Do not hastily take advantage of your enemy’s apparent weaknesses. Any wrong you do to your enemy will be considered by a judge also and of course by the heavenly judge. How can you maintain you are right, when, given the chance, you hasten to doing evil?

Why I chose to write about this verse:

As you can easily imagine, I am still seeking to explain and illustrate 1 Corinthians 13:6: Love “rejoiceth not with iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth.”

Rejoicing while an enemy is in trouble could easily be a way of rejoicing with iniquity. Christian love as described in 1 Corinthian 13 does not yield to such emotions.

Have faith in God’s power to change lives!

I feel Christian love would hope for an “enemy” to meet Jesus. People who come to believe in Jesus will change in many ways.

Just think of Zachaeus in the New Testament. He was a tax collector. He had taken more than was right from many of his contemporaries. He was working on behalf of the Romans and he would pass on some amount to the Romans. The rest he could keep for himself. The Romans did not really limit him as to what to charge.

Needless to say this was not a way for him to gain good Friends among his fellow Jews. many would have hated him for what he demanded from them. Yet any agitation against a tax-collector’s authority could be seen as rebellion against the Romans. The Romans were ruling their country and many others surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

When Jesus came to Zachaeus’s home things began to change. Zachaeus on his own accord decided to return money that he had taken by usury. He also determined to give alms the poor.

An attempt to eliminate Zachaeus could never have rendered such results. Zachaeus would have been replaced by another tax-collector. Those who had acted out against Zachaeus would have been punished. (Read this story in Luke 19:1-10!)

You don’t feel you have enemies?

I am glad to hear that. Perhaps you are already applying some Christian principles.

Still this post might help you in dealing with some people you find difficult. And of course this post is designed to help you attach meaning to 1 Corinthians 13:6.

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