God the Father was in complete control of the circumstances surrounding the trials and crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). Though unjustly attacked, Jesus knew He was doing the Father’s will (John 6:38; 10:14-18; 12:27; 18:11) and did not retaliate against His attackers (1 Pet. 2:21-23). Unlike Jesus, Christians are capable of sin (Eccl. 7:20; 1 Pet. 4:15), and we should accept our punishment when we do wrong (Acts 25:11). But like Jesus, there are times when we will experience unjust persecution (1 Pet. 3:14-17; 4:12-19). We must start with the realization that there are times when God sovereignly permits His people to suffer or die (see Acts 5:40-41; 7:54-60), and other times allows them to escape (Acts 9:23-25). If possible, the believer can avoid unjust suffering such as when Jesus walked away from His attackers (John 8:59; 10:31, 39), or when Paul avoided stoning (Acts 14:5-6) or an unjust trial (Acts 25:1-12). However, when there is no escape, the Christian must bear up under such hardships with an attitude of faith, trusting the Lord sees what’s happening and will act as He determines best. Stephen is a good example of a believer who trusted God when being violently attacked (Acts 7:58-60). Certainly God will avenge the innocent (2 Thess. 1:6-7); however, there may be times when He surprises us by showing grace and mercy to those don’t deserve it, such as the grace shown to Paul when he was persecuting the church (Acts 9:1-6; Gal. 1:15-16). By faith, the Christian who suffers unjustly is not to retaliate (Rom. 12:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:21-23), but is called to love and pray for his enemies (Luke 6:27-29), and to bless them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:8-9), if perhaps God may grant them saving grace (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
June 17, 2017