There’s a lot of great stuff in the Bible, am I right? I found myself in the Proverbs this week, and this one seemed to have something to say.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. —Proverbs 24:17
It’s a great verse, isn’t it? You could put this as your Facebook status today, and your friends would like it. You might even get a couple of those little heart reactions, because it’s lovable. I should know, because I did it yesterday. On purpose.
We really do like this verse, until we try and apply it to our own heart in relation to our own stumbling enemies. But that’s kind of the point of Scripture, isn’t it? It’s not just a book of Tweetable goodness used to make us look holy on the internet. Believe it or not, there is some stuff in there that has a practical application to your life. Weird, right? (Okay, so you get it. Let’s move on.)
Consider who your enemy might be. We can go big picture, and put Osama Bin Laden in there. “Do not rejoice when Osama Bin Laden falls.” Seriously? Yeah, that’s what it says. His death was a great American victory, but I imagine that God wept at His death, because God loved Osama Bin Laden.
“Do not rejoice when Hillary Clinton falls,” and I mean literally falls, like she did at a recent appearance. Her opponents loved it, celebrating the evidence of how unfit she is for whatever job it is that she’s interviewing for currently. She might be a horrible person, and you might think that she is the worst presidential candidate in history, but that does not give you a right to rejoice at her peril. God loves Hillary Clinton, just as much as He loves Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and you.
What if we change it up for the younger crowd? “Do not rejoice when that jerk on the football team breaks his leg and is out for the season.” Even if he bullies you, and totally deserves it. God even loves that guy, even if we can’t find a single reason why. We could go on, and make it as personal and as painful as we like.
“Do not rejoice when the guy who murdered your family is sentenced to die.” I can’t begin to imagine, but I know it’s how God would have us react. I’ve seen several stories of families forgiving murderers, and every one of them is a heart-wrenching story of forgiveness and grace. God loves murderers just as much as He loves you and me.
One more before we go:
“Do not rejoice when Colin Kaepernick and Brandon Marshall lose endorsement deals.”
Let’s pretend for a minute that these guys are 100% in the wrong for kneeling during the national anthem, and that they are vile communists who hate America and her military with every fiber of their being. That’s not how I see it, by the way, but I’ll play along (See my open letter to Kaepernick for a peek at my position).
You might say that these football players are kicking America in the teeth, and that when they lose endorsements, they are just getting what they deserve. That’s part of it. If you act like an idiot, don’t be surprised when people treat you like like one. If you don’t like this country, then leave, right?
I get it. The flag is sacred. You’ll get no argument contrary from me. However, I can’t tolerate the hatred hurled at these who are in protest. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. They are people, God’s creation, and we as Christians are required to treat them with love and dignity. It doesn’t matter if they act in a loving and dignified manner or not. Because guess what? God loves Colin Kaepernick and Brandon Marshall just as much as he loves any member of our armed services, whether active, reserved, retired, or deceased.
God is not a respecter of persons. In other words, He doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve done, He loves you and wants to be with you. He doesn’t care if you’re a flaming liberal or staunch conservative. He doesn’t care if you’re a war hero or a flag-burning hippie. And He certainly doesn’t care whether or not you pledge allegiance to the flag. He loves America’s enemies just as much as he loves Americans. Believe it or not, America is not His favorite.
Christian, every time you take up arms against somebody, you push them away from Christ. Being right isn’t worth them being damned.
You don’t have to like it, but you have to obey. God said so.
(Photo of Kaepernick being sacked used with permission from the fine folks at Sportige.)
*** *** EDIT *** ***
I created a series of pictures to go along with this post on Facebook. There is so much more going on here that football, and the pictures failed to represent that adequately. It’s only right to leave those pictures here. You know… for posterity or whatever.