“ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord . Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel! Ezekiel 36:24-32 NIV Chapter 36 is Ezekiel's prophecy of God's plan to restore Israel from exile and richly bless the land causing it to produce finer crops than ever before. He is going to do this not so much for the sake of the people who are still undeserving of His blessings but so that they and the world will know that He is Lord. As he restores the land and his people, they will look back at their ways and be ashamed, seeing God's grace as he cleanses them and blesses their land.
The same can be seen in the church and we as His people as he restores us. It will be by His grace and not by anything deserved. As we see Him working in our lives and renewing us we will see how unworthy we are and be--or at least should be--ashamed of our practices.
I believe we are also called to do the same to those around us who do hurtful or selfish things to us or who may just be unaware they are being rude. As I am driving and that guy who cuts me off, or in the store rather than having a me first attitude, allow that person who seems in such a hurry to go in front of me or as I am shopping in Home Depot and need help, ending up getting that one who really knows nothing about hardware and who gives me advice which even I know is not right. As we go about our day I think we are called by Jesus to be like Him and do loving and kind things even though those we are around may not deserve it.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21
Because of years and years of responding poorly to people this is not going to be something I can do right away but as I repeat my bad responses to people I ask for God to convict me and change me to be more like Jesus who responds so good to me and blesses me even though I don't deserve it.
by Ken Edgerly photo: Synagogue ruins in Capharnaum (Jesus' Synagogue)