God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6, verse 10.
Dovetailing off yesterday’s talk comes today’s verse that confirms how God has a long memory. As you’ll remember, the gist of yesterday’s talk was ‘do something about your faith right now’ so this is good advice for people who may be on the fence about how to live out their faith.
The other night I talked with one of the nastiest people with whom I’ve ever spoken. At the call center, a number appears on a computer screen and we are required to dial it. We don’t see the history of calls dialed to the person’s number, and we aren’t given any information about them, how many people have spoken with them, or anything of a personal nature. When the man answered the phone, he began to berate and yell at me, demanding that I stop calling him. I followed procedure and asked him to verify his telephone number so I could place him on a do-not-call list. That only caused him to get angrier, and he continued berating, insulting, and even threatening me for about 10 minutes. Eventually, he hung up before I could complete the call procedure, but I put him on the do-not-call list anyway. We aren’t supposed to do that; it can cause auditors to give an ‘auto-fail’ to an agent. But I did it anyway because I figured that both the customer and the company would be better off by not antagonizing him any further. If I’m assigned an auto-fail for it, so be it.
The best way to recover from something like this is to pray for the person. I’ll admit: I did this, but it was difficult. In fact, I let his negativity ruin the rest of my night. But the next morning, my wife and I prayed for him during our morning devotion. I sincerely hope he’s well (and I hope he both calms down and hasn’t received any more telemarketing calls).
I also sincerely hope God remembers it because I know He will. My hope for the irate customer is more like a wish; I wish for him some peace and maybe that he’d lighten up a little. My hope where God’s memory is concerned is remembering a sure promise. God WILL remember the good things we do, not as good works to earn His favor but, instead, as examples of how we live out the faith we have in Him. It matters when we do things for each other in a caring manner. It matters when we act in ways that demonstrate faith in God. It matters when we do things to truly foster peace by helping others instead of choosing another way.
These things matter because they are evidence of how our thinking, then our actions, change when Jesus takes over in our lives. We get to do good works and act kindly towards others because that’s what Jesus wants us to do. He acted lovingly towards us, even when He was harsh. He wants us to do the same in how we act towards each other.
Both Proverbs 25 and Romans 12 (which quotes Proverbs 25) say “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.” That may seem mean, but it really isn’t. If your motivation is to help, then these actions are discipline. They are tough love, dishing out justice for justice’s sake because justice should be righteous. They’re only mean if you intend them to be mean. And God remembers our intentions. God deals in the why, not just the what.
God remembers what we do here and now, and right now is when we’re living. If our motivation is to live in ways that please God, then we’ll want to be kind, helpful, just, and honest whenever we’re dealing with others in any way. Be nice to each other, especially to strangers, even telemarketers. If you’re in a troubled marriage, be kind. If you’re working with difficult people, be generous. If someone talks too much, actively listen. If someone is angry, be respectful. If someone hurts you or is irate with you, respond as Jesus would and, in doing so, you’ll heap burning coals on their head. Then, stand back and hope that they realize how unpleasant it can be to have your head on fire. With God’s hope in mind, they, too, will choose to act differently.
For further reading: Matthew 10: 40-42, Proverbs 25: 21-22, Romans 12:20.
Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fail to act as You do. Help me to show love and caring for my brothers and sisters in everything I do.