Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 25:1-7; Matthew 5:43-48
Proverbs 24:17 says “Do not gloat when your enemy falls.” The Akan people of Ghana have a proverb: “The lizard is not as mad with the boys who threw stones at it as with the boys who stood by and rejoiced over its fate!” Rejoicing at someone’s downfall is like participating in the cause of that downfall or even wishing more evil on the person. It is very uncharitable, and as such against the Christian spirit.
That was the attitude of the Ammonites who maliciously rejoiced when the temple in Jerusalem “was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile” (Ezek. 25:3). For spitefully celebrating Israel’s misfortunes, the Ammonites experienced God’s displeasure, which resulted in grim consequences (vv. 4-7). How do we react when disaster befalls our neighbour or when our neighbour gets into trouble? If he is a nice and friendly neighbour then, of course, we will sympathize with him and go to his aid. But what if he is an unfriendly, trouble-making neighbour? Our natural tendency may be to ignore him or even secretly rejoice at his downfall.
The Scripture warns us: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” (Proverbs 24:17). Instead, Jesus tells us that we show His love in action when we “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (Matt. 5:44). By so doing, we imitate the perfect love of our Lord (5:48), Who at the Cross prayed for forgiveness for those who persecuted Him. Thomas a Kempis says, “Love is a great thing, greatest of all goods, because it alone renders light every burden and bears without any distinction every misfortune. It carries a burden without feeling it, and renders sweet and pleasing all bitterness. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more sublime, nothing more expensive, nothing more pleasing in heaven or on earth; because love is born of God, nor can it rest on created things, but only in God”. Martin Buber, says, “Men become what they are, sons of God, by becoming what they are, brothers of their brothers,” From what Martin Buber said, it does not matter if your brother offended you; what is important and acceptable to God is that you become his brother in spite of his offence against you.
Jer 7:1-11; Ps 84:3.4.5-6a.8a.11(R.2); Accl James 1:21bc; Gosp Mt 13:24-30 WEEKDAY
- Lord, open my eyes and my heart to be honest about my attitude toward those who are unkind or unfair to me. Fill my heart with Your love, Lord, and help me pray for them.
- Father, You alone can inspire me with your grace to fight my will, my senses, and passions; give me the grace to do what pleases You at all times. In Jesus name.
Exercise: Pray for as many as are unkind to you but are in difficulty now.
Meditation: Matthew 5:43-44