So baby murderer Kermit Gosnell has given up his right to appeal his sentence â€œin exchange for avoiding a possible death sentence,â€ CNN.com reports on its â€œJusticeâ€ web page. You may be thinking, some justice that this murderer gets life after taking so many innocent ones. I know exactly how you feel.
However, I want to go back to what I wrote yesterday:
â€œI was overcome this morning with the sense of duty to pray for Kermit Gosnellâ€™s soul. Even though I can rejoice in the knowledge that Hell exists to judge unrighteousness, I should never wish it for any soul. Christâ€™s admonition for me to love and pray for an enemy such as a baby murderer is a difficult matter for me.â€
My Lordâ€™s admonition has become all the more difficult with the news of the Gosnell deal. It was easy enough for me to think I had to pray for this monster all the while believing he was going to get the death penalty. Now I must truly â€œrest in the grace of Christ to obey His commands and trust in the hope of our Righteous Judge that righteousness will prevail.â€
Let us revisit our Lordâ€™s admonition from His Sermon on the Mount to love our enemies:
â€œYou have heard that it was said, â€˜You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.â€™ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.â€ (Matthew 5:43-48)
The Lord Jesus Christ has turned my humanity on its head. My flesh wants to retaliate against my enemies and my enemies include those who are in the abortion industry. And as righteous as my desire to retaliate may seem to the human mind, it is forbidden by the Lord.
I once heard former University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier say that he was an Old Testament Christian while his quarterback Danny Wuerfful was a New Testament Christian. Coach Spurrier was alluding to his belief in â€œan eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.â€ However, vengeance was forbidden even in the Levitical law:
â€œYou shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.â€ (Leviticus 19:18)
To overcome this natural desire to seek retaliation and revenge when evil is seemingly spared justice, Paul tells us in Romans 12 that our minds must be renewed by presenting our â€œbodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.â€ We are not allowed to â€œbe conformed to this worldâ€ so that we will remove the stinking thinking in our lives and have the spiritual ability to â€œprove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.â€ Then Paul continues exhorting us to behave like a Christian by reminding us of Christâ€™s teaching:
â€œRepay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, â€˜Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,â€™ says the Lord.â€ (Romans 12:17-19)
Paul must have at least momentarily been surprised by these words coming off his pen as he was once the great persecutor of the early church, seeking vengeance against believers. However he understood Christâ€™s work of redemption in his life and knew it to be possible for any sinner. Commenting on Matthew 5:43-48, Oswald Chambers writes:
â€œOur Lordâ€™s exhortation in these verses is to be generous in our behavior to all men. In the spiritual life beware of walking according to natural affinities. Everyone has natural affinities; some people we like and others we do not like. We must never let those likes and dislikes rule in our Christian life. â€˜If we walk in the light as God is in the light,â€™ God will give us communion with people for whom we have no natural affinity.â€
I have no natural affinity for Kermit Gosnell; I have only natural dislike bordering on hatred. But even in my flesh the Holy Spirit broke through and allowed me this thought that I shared with my wife last night. Imagine Kermit Gosnell coming to Christ while in prison. Imagine him becoming the most prolific anti-abortion/pro-life advocate who completely pulls back the curtain on the abortion industry.
Part of you may dislike that thought, knowing that if Gosnell did come to Christ he would avoid Hell and receive eternal life in Heaven. You need to have a better understanding of Hell to get over that feeling. By the way, there are going to be some very notorious criminals in Heaven when you get there.
That is the miraculous and redemptive work of Christ. Even more shocking is that you will have fellowship with such souls in heaven.
Who knows? That soul may thank you for your generous behavior towards him or her because of your love and prayers for their salvation.
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Copyright Â© 2013 David Jeffers