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Focus Verses: Genesis 4:8-10
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And
while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed
him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.
Sin not only separates us from God, as we see in Genesis 3, it
also separates us from each other. Sin and selfishness are so
destructive to the human heart that even efforts to know and worship
God can result in social strife and violence. When envy, anger, pride,
and sin master the human heart, the result is conflict, hate, and
bitter competition. Instead of living in harmony with each other,
people become disconnected—restless wanderers fearful of others.
This animosity gets passed on from generation to
generation. The strife of two brothers becomes the strife of cities.
The vengeance of seven people becomes the violence and murder of
seventy-seven. Only in Christ Jesus can we find the healing and grace
we need to be right with God and right with others. Only with humility
and surrender to God can we break the chain of retaliation and
hostility that divides individuals, people groups, and nations.
Response and Action:
I need to recognize the ways sin,
jealousy, lies, pride, and selfishness destroy my relationships with
others. If I want to understand and overcome conflict among people
(nations, families, neighbors, religions, siblings, races), I need to
recognize the underlying causes of sin.
When I am in conflict with others, I will humble myself and
prayerfully examine my heart and mind for sin. If I want to live in
harmony with others and be a voice and influence for peace, I must
seek to be right with God. I must love the Lord, my God, with all my
heart, soul, mind and strength if I am to be able to love my neighbor
O Lord, make me an instrument of your
peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is
injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is despair,
hope; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light.
Grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to
be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in
giving that I receive, it is in pardoning that I receive pardon, it is
dying that I am born to eternal life. Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 12:17-19
17 Do not repay anyone evil for
evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it
is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for
it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
A Just Forgiveness: Responsible Healing without Excusing Injustice
by Everett L. Worthington, Jr.