Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, September 08, 2016
Thirteen-year-old Lauren Landavazo was walking home from school last Friday when she was shot and killed. Authorities arrested Kody Lott Sunday afternoon and he later confessed to the shooting, claiming that the devil helped him plan out the crime.
If this tragedy doesn’t make you angry, I could tell you more stories in today’s news—a teenager who assaulted a girl and bragged about it on Facebook, thirty-seven children who were hospitalized after a chlorine gas attack in Syria, thirteen people who were shot to death over the Labor Day weekend in Chicago.
My point is not to depress you this morning. Rather, it is to think with you about the anger you feel at stories like these.
I was reading in 1 Samuel yesterday and was struck by this verse: when King Saul was notified that the people of Jabesh-gilead were under siege, “the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled” (1 Samuel 11:6).
As I reflected on the anger produced by the Holy Spirit in the heart of Saul, I thought immediately of the anger of Jesus. For instance, when our Lord encountered Pharisees who valued their Sabbath laws over a man with a withered hand, “he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5).
When Jesus found money-changers defrauding people at the Temple, he drove them out of the area, poured out their coins, and overturned their tables (John 2:15). He called King Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:32) and repeatedly denounced scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites” (Matthew 23).
The “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of hymnology is seldom found in the Bible. Rather, we find in the Son the same attitude toward sin as we encounter in his Father. There are at least 375 references in the Old Testament to the wrath of God. The New Testament continues the theme: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).
Here’s my point: the closer we are to God, the more our hearts will reflect his heart. And God’s heart breaks when he sees our sin—not because he doesn’t love sinners, but because he does. Because he knows the pain and grief and death that sin always and inevitably produces (Romans 6:23). Because he rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17) and wants only what is best for us (Romans 12:2).
The God who loves all his children wants us to feel the same way. The next time you see immorality portrayed on television or in the news, watch your reaction. If you shake your head in disgust, your heart does not reflect the heart of God. If you grieve for them and pray for them, you have the heart of your Father.
Lost people act like lost people. They are unable to understand what is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:15). Rather than dismissing or rejecting them, we are called to love them as our Lord loves us. After all, we were once as lost as they are. Jesus died for us, not because we are good but because we are not (Romans 5:8).
A missionary once prayed, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks your heart.” Would you make his prayer yours today?
Publication date: September 8, 2016
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