When good is repaid with evil...
Key Word Study: Perseverance
We at our church just finished the first of what I hope to be several OCLOC ministry days, occurring no less than quarterly and preferably monthly or if need be more often.
OCLOC stands for Our Church Loves Our Community. The lesson we learn from the early church is that they not only loved their church (Acts 2) but they also loved their community, even when the community didn't love them (at all!).
In Acts 5:12-42, we see that it wasn’t just Peter and John preaching, teaching and reaching their community, but now it was all of the apostles who were teaching about Christ. Imagine the boldness it took to be put in prison, miraculously released and then to go back to the same temple all over again. The Key Word of perseverance is all over the latter part of Acts 5.
As a result of their love and perseverance despite opposition, the community held the apostles in high esteem (see Acts 5:13).
Despite the opposition, Simon Peter did not tone down his sermons and did not even try to accommodate those who believed a different way. If anything, he pushed the pedal to the floor and gunned his spiritual motor!
When I was in eighth grade, I got a paddling for doing something innocent enough: I was smiling at the teacher. Okay, maybe I wasn’t just smiling, I was actually laughing at the teacher underneath my smile, but still I was just smiling. He took me and my friend Paul (who was also “smiling” with me) out of the classroom and gave us “licks” with a wooden “attitude adjustment” board! Even though I wasn’t thoroughly innocent, I remember the injustice of being punished for something as simple as smiling!
If you have ever been punished or rebuked for doing something right, you probably understand one of Murphy’s laws: No good, kind, and selfless deed will ever go unpunished.
The disciples got something much worse than a simple paddling and they were doing things so much better than simply smiling. They were performing signs and wonders, which generally meant they were healing those who were sick; they were maintaining a good reputation with the people; they were in one accord with each other (oh, that churches could do that today!); they were growing and adding to the every day; people were coming from all around to be delivered from their afflictions.
With all that being done, we would think God would bless their efforts and deliver to them peace, prosperity, and freedom from opposition. But the Scriptures, history and personal experience teaches us that there are times when you do things rightly, sometimes everything turns out wrongly.
It is this type of perseverance that would eventually lead Peter to write in his first epistle, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 2:20). Jesus was of course right to change Simon's name to Peter, but based on what we know now, the Lord would not have been too far off to have also occasionally called him “Murphy”.
The next few days we will be looking at perseverance in doing well. Consider a memory verse for this week:
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Heavenly Father, today I forgive those who have taken my good deeds and returned evil for the good I do. My greatest example for this is of course found in Your Son and my Lord Jesus Christ. Help me not to grow weary in doing well.