the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sunday 10/2/05 Year - A - Proper 22

Isaiah 5:1-7 (nrsv)
Philippians 3:4-14 (nrsv)
Matthew 21:33-46 (nrsv)

Psalm 80:7-19 (kjv)
7Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
8 Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
9 Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
10 The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.
11 She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.
12 Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
13 The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.
16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.
17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
19 Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday 9/25/05 Year - A - Proper 21

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

Psalm 25:1-9

1 Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.
8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Some topics for thought and meditation:

  1. Authority. What is it? Where does it come from? What is it good for?
  2. God's will, doing it or giving lip-service to it.
  3. John the Baptist. His message, his role in God's plan, his notoriety in first century Judea.

On authority, Wesley White wrote

On Jesus' reference to John, in the Gospel passage, see G. J. Goldberg at John the Baptist and Josephus.

Are You Giving Lip-Service to God?

Matthew 21:23-32

As Jesus was nearing Jerusalem he sent two disciples ahead to make preparations for his entry into the City. Little did they know what he was up to. And little did they know what kind of entry he planned to make into Jerusalem.

When Jesus rode into the city on the back of a donkey it was the same way that David entered the citidel when he became King. Every king after that, from Solomon down to Josiah, entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. And when Jesus entered into the city that day it was as her king. A more obvious political statement could not have been made.

He rode the donkey up to the temple and went in. When inside, he took charge, driving out the money changers and the vendors of sacrifical animals. He said to them, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."

Jesus then left Jerusalem and went to Bethany where he spent the night, probably in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Today's gospel reading begins on the very next day. The chief priests were still reeling from the events of the day before. So, they approached him and demanded to know what Jesus' authority was.

The highest authority in the Land was the Roman government, and its Governor, Pilate. Had Jesus come from the Romans, disguised as a Jewish peasant to provoke a rebellion?

The next highest authority was the Sanhedrin, made up of 70 of the elder priests of the Temple. In other words, themselves. Could this upstart peasant be one of the wilderness prophets come to Jerusalem to stir up revolution? What he was doing was a challenge to their authority.

So, they demanded to know the source of his.

Jesus responded to their question by asking them another question. He suggested a trade of information. He barganed to tell the source if his authority if they could tell him the source of John's authority to baptize for the remission of sins.

It was a clever trap. John had come on the scene several years earlier preaching repentance and demanding baptism for the remission of sins. John had a great following among the common people. John told the Pharasees, the Saducees and the chief priests that they were a "brood of vipers." Snakes in the grass. When they refused to accept his preaching, they claimed that they were God's chosen people and needed no salvation. They believed that one could worship God only in Jerusalem at the Temple by making a proper sacrifice. John told them that God could raise up children of Abraham from the very stones on the ground, and what God wanted was repentance, and right living, not blood sacrifice.

So Jesus caused them to remember John. To remember the trouble he caused. He challenged them to admit their belief about John right then and there in front of the people.

They could not answer. No matter what answer they gave, they would be shown up for hypocrites. The hypocrites that they were.

So Jesus tells a short but poignant story. A parable about a man who had two sons. Like God who had two groups of children, Jews and Gentiles.

He went to the first and said go and work in my vinyard today. The first son responded by refusing to go. Such a refusal would have meant humiliation and disgrace to the father.

He then went to the second son and asked him to go into the vinyard and work all day. This son very responsibly said he would go.

So far we have a parallel between the two groups of God's children, those with whom he has a covenant (the second son) and those with whom he has not (the first son).

Then comes the twist. The first son decides to go to the vinyard and work. The second son decides he has better things to do today and may go there another day.

The parallel is clear. And the meaning does not escape the understanding of the Chief Priests. As the prophets had preached long ago, Jesus was now preaching again: "My people have deserted me, and the gentiles now come to me with greater humility and more righteous lives than my own people.”

Jesus brings the point home by his question: "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They admited it was the first. Even though at first he rejected his fathers will, he later repented of his actions and obeyed his father's will. The second son had been faithful in the beginning, promising to obey, but then he actually disobeyed. His obedience was only lip-service.

The Psalmist says, "O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

Jesus challenged the power and authority of the religious leaders of his day. He challenged the way in which they had perversed God's love. He challenged the way they had set up a kingdom for themselves and kept out those who needed Gods love and mercy.

Jesus told them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes, who belived in the preaching of John would go into the Kingdom of God before them. What he means here is the sinners who repent and obey the will of the Father, accept God's rule over their lives a lot qucker than those who only give lip-service to God.
Are you Giving Lip-Service to God?

Deliver us, Lord, from the stranglehold
of sin and all evil.
Let your forgiveness come to us
as a liberation from our doubts and fears
and from our self-contented pride
at the expense of others.
Help us to seek your will in all we do
and to prepare for the full coming among us
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sunday 9/18/05 - Year A - Proper 20

Jonah 3:10 - 4:11
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

Psalm 145:1-8

1 I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.
6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.
7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

I had an employer once, who used this week's Gospel passage to justify inequality in his hiring practices. Applying a literal interpretation of this parable to his business practice would not have been very good for business. But his particular interpretation of this parable meant that he could hire people doing the same job for vastly different salaries. It doesn't take much insight to realize that Jesus is not talking about literal wages and literal hiring practices. Even if you take the parable literally, it is clear that Jesus is using this example to tell us something about God's rule. "The Kingdom of heaven is like [this]..."

Jesus is always teaching about God and His rule over us. Much of his teaching is about what we should expect, and not expect when we let God have complete control over our lives. One thing we should not expect is a badge of honor for doing his will, or any other reward that separates us qualitatively from our brothers and sisters.

This vineyard owner hires several workers early in the morning. Then he returns several times; at 9:00 AM, Noon, 3:00 PM, and 5:00 PM, and hires more workers each time. Then when he pays them at the end of the day, he pays them all a full day’s wage. No matter when the laborer was hired, he received the same wages.

I can imagine that if this happened where you work, neither you nor your fellow workers would be very happy. Nor were the laborers who had worked twelve hours; the parable says "they grumbled against the landowner."

Jesus responded that in God's upside down kingdom, "the last will be first, and the first will be last" (20:16). In the previous chapters, Jesu had made this same point. James and John wanted to be first and second in the Kingdom, the rich young ruler wanted eternal life without true sacrifice, Peter wants to be sure that he and the others will be properly compensated for the fact that they had left everything to follow Jesus. We can be sure he is reinforcing a point that is near and dear to his own heart. His point is not one about profit margins or minimum wage laws, but rather about the lavish generosity of God's grace in contrast to the competitive score-keeping that characterizes so many of our relationships.

He cut to the quick when he responded to the grumblers: "Are you envious because I am generous?" (20:15). The Jesus Way, in other words, is a world of grace and not merit, status reversal instead of status reverence, undeserved generosity rather than pay for services rendered.

The Old Testament reading for this week provides an good illustration of Jesus's parable. When God had compassion on the pagan Ninevites, Jonah complained bitterly: "I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity" (Jonah 4:2)

God's prophetic call had come to Jonah, telling him to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. But he refused and fled some 750 miles in the opposite direction. Nineveh was east of Palestine whereas Tarshish was west, probably in southern Spain.

Consider what God had called Jonah to do. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, Israel's traditional enemy and eventual conqueror. With a population of 120,000 people, some classical accounts say it was the largest city in the world in its day. The text tells us that its pagan sinfulness was legendary, as was its cruelty: “It was the people which scorched its enemies alive to decorate its walls and pyramids with their skin.”

God had asked Jonah to go to this city and preach repentance. I was like asking a modern day Jew to go to Damascus in Syria and preach repentance to the Muslim Syrians. What an impossible task for Jonah. And Jonah fled form the face of the Lord rather than do this thing.

Have you ever thought that God's sending of the great fish was to punish Jonah? I know that was the way it was explained to me many years ago as a boy in Sunday School. When the ship Jonah was on encountered a great storm, Jonah told them to throw him overboard. Jonah could only expect to drown. But Jonah did not drown. Why? Because God sent the fish to save him and put him back on dry ground.

Think about God's bountiful grace. Jonah ran away from God rather than obey him. Jonah then had a suicidal death wish acted out and God still was able to turn the situation into an occasion of grace and provision.

And God's word came a second time to Jonah. This time Jonah obeyed. He traveled to Nineveh and preached to Israel's pagan conquerors. He preached on the street corners for three days. He fully expected the Ninevites to reject God. He fully expected them to do harm to him. Or, at least, to throw him in prision. Jonah was a righteous man. He knew that the sins of the Assyrians would surely mean death and destruction at the hand of an angry and righteous God.

But the people of Nineveh, from the King down to the lowest slave, repented.

Jonah must have been some kind of preacher. And he accomplished what God sent him to get: the repentance of the people of the city of Nineveh. They repented and God spared them and Jonah was angry. Jonah was not happy at all at the sparing of the Assyrians of Nineveh.

Jonah was looking for the wrath of God. He relished the thought of these people being punished for their sins. When God failed to punish and instead forgave them, Jonah felt like he had been betrayed by God.

I think what Paul had to say may shed some light here, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Can we say that what is being taught here is: no matter when, in the course of history, or in the course of a life one finds the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the reward is the same, eternal life.

When the church was still in its infancy, the Jewish Christians wanted the new Gentile converts to go through the initiation rites of a Jew first. It was the apostle Paul who championed the cause of the Gentile believers. He said "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Road to Perdition

Mark 10:32-45

Rock Island, Illinois -- 1929. The year the stock market crashed. Prohibition, and all of the ills it spawned, was in full swing. Michael O'Sullivan was a good father and a family man -- and also the chief enforcer for John Looney, the town's Irish Godfather of crime. As Looney's "Angel of Death," O'Sullivan has done the bidding of Chicago gangsters Al Capone and Frank Nitti as well -- but when a gangland execution spells tragedy for the O'Sullivan family, a grieving father and his adolescent son find themselves on a winding road to treachery, revenge, and revelation.

This is the story in a book, by Max Collins, entitled Road to Perdition, which was recently made into a major motion picture, staring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Perdition is a word seldom used in our everyday speech. As with many things in our life, the title of the movie and the book, has a double meaning. This father and son are making their way from Rock Island, Illinois to the home of some relatives in Perdition, Kansas. But the true meaning of the word Perdition is complete and utter destruction.

While the O’Sullivan’s make their way to a small Midwestern town in Kansas, they are also most certainly on the road to utter and complete destruction. There are mobsters at every turn. Michael Sullivan is a man who has lived by the gun and surely, he will die by the gun. His son is innocent of even the knowledge of what his father does for a living. But when his mother and younger brother are gunned down in their own home, he learns quickly. Along the Road to Perdition, Michael, Jr. learns to drive a getaway car, rob banks, shoot a man in the back, and go to church to confess his sins.

In the end, Michael, Sr. achieves perdition, utter and complete destruction, at the hands of a killer hired by the Capone gang. Michael, Jr. finds redemption in the church and becomes a priest.

Hearing this story we can’t help but think of the words of Jesus:
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction [perdition], and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Twice before, Jesus tried to tell the disciples of the Road to Perdition. The first time, the scripture says he was “stating the matter plainly,” that is, not in parables. Peter rebukes him. When Peter confesses Jesus as “the Christ,” his is willing to go to the ends of the earth to follow him. But Peter wants no part of the suffering.

The second time, they were on the road to Capernaum. The scripture says “They did not understand [him], and they were afraid to ask him.” When they arrived at Capernaum, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed which of them was the greatest.

In our scripture today, Jesus and his disciples are finally on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus is walking briskly, with purpose, for he is on the Road to Perdition. The scripture says, “and Jesus was walking on ahead of them;” But it was the disciples who were lagging behind.
Besides the reluctance of the disciples, we are told two additional things:

They were amazed, and…
They were afraid.

Amazed: according to Webster’s Dictionary they were bewildered, perplexed, filled with wonder, astounded, astonished, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and shocked. Why did Jesus insist on going to Jerusalem?
[O,] "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [you] who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and [yet] you were unwilling.
Matthew 23:37
They were afraid. Fear, that most powerful of emotions, that causes us to shrink, to run, to hide. Fear, that causes us to engage in mindless frivolities in order to escape its grip on us. Fear, the antithesis of Faith and Hope. They were afraid because they were on the Road to Perdition. (complete and utter destruction.)

Then Jesus stops, waits for them to catch up, and gathers them together. And he begins to tell them again, now for the third time, about this Road to Perdition. He speaks of himself in the third person as the Son of Man, a phrase taken from Ezekiel. But the disciples heard what he said in the first person:

“[Look!], we are going up to Jerusalem, and [I] will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn [me] to death and will hand [me] over to the [Romans]. They will mock [me] and spit on [me], and scourge [me] and kill [me], and three days later [I] will rise again.“ Mark 10:33-34

That last phrase seems hardly audible as though it is an afterthought. And the rest of Jesus’ speech is a description of Perdition: (complete and utter destruction.)

And in the midst of the shock and fear we have frivolity! What Jesus is telling them is the most important thing. He is speaking of matters of life and death. And he was interrupted.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, the sons of Thunder, were two of the inner circle. When Jesus raised the daughter of Jarius from the dead, who did he take into the bedroom with him? Peter, James and John. When he was transfigured on the mountain top, who did he take with him on the mountain? Peter, James and John. When he goes into the garden of Gethsemane, he leaves the disciples behind except for Peter, James and John whom he takes with him a little farther into garden.

Had all the attention given to them by Jesus gone to their heads? Passages in John’s Gospel indicate that there was a competition, even a rivalry, between Peter and John (the disciple whom Jesus loved.)

But let us not judge them too severely. After all they are only human, like us. They were self-centered. They were part of the “Me” generation. They knew how to measure success. Success was to be number one and number two after Jesus. They had to speak quickly. Peter had been given the keys to the Kingdom. On Peter Jesus was going to build his church. So they wanted recognition too. They wanted to sit with Jesus on the royal platform, flanking him as he sat on his throne.

Jesus saw the frivolity of their desire. He told them, “you don’t know what you are asking.” Then he issued them a challenge: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

Their answer is proof positive that they didn’t know what they were talking about. They didn’t know what Jesus was talking about. They didn’t know what was at stake. They didn’t know the cost of discipleship. They said, “We are able.”

Obviously, they were not listening to him. Often, when Jesus is trying to tell us what he wants us to know, we are not listening. We are dreaming of our own importance. We want God to give us all the good things in life: love, happiness, wealth, health. And all along Jesus is trying to tell us about the Cross.

The others became indignant and resented James and John. They were humanly jealous.

Jesus calls them to himself. He gathers them “the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Lovingly, he separates the world from the Kingdom. The world sees leadership, success, this way. “But it is not this way among you.” And then he teaches them the Kingdom way of success:

…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. Mark 10:43-44
Is this what we teach our children? Don’t we teach them to seek power and wealth so that they will not have to serve others. Isn’t success measured by how many of our brothers and sisters must serve us because of the power that our amassed wealth provides us? Clearly, Jesus is teaching the disciples, and us, that success in the Kingdom of God is servitude.

He provides us with a great example:
For even [I] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give [my] life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
We ask, "What would Jesus do?" What did he do? He came not seeking wealth or power, but seeking to be a servant. He allowed the Jews and the Romans to use him -- to use his body as an object of torture -- to use him as an object to power-over -- to use him as a ransom -- He paid the price -- for many.

In our church yard, there are three crosses, representing the three who were crucified on Good Friday. All of these crosses are bare. They are emptied of the suffering and grief experienced on them. In our sanctuary, there is a cross that is bare except for a strand of Dogwood flowers that adorn it. We come to the altar every Sunday seeing only the blank reminder of the pain, the sacrifice, the surrender, the holocaust, the Perdition that was Calvary. We want to move too quickly from Thursday to Sunday ignoring, or at best, paying only lip service to the horror of Friday.

Perhaps it is only human nature to want to censure out the violence and the blood so that we can rush to the happy ending. When we come to our Lord’s table, we drink of the cup that he drank -- the blood that was poured out for us.

In most Catholic churches there is a Cross, larger than life, that hangs upon the wall behind the altar. On this cross is an equally larger than life image of the crucified Christ. Perhaps they have the right idea. Instead of focusing on the glorious event of the resurrection, the gift that is given freely to us without paying the price, they focus on the pain and suffering and the cost that Jesus paid as a ransom for many.

This year we will journey with Jesus and the disciples as they travel to Jerusalem, and to the Cross, on the Road to Perdition.

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment: while I contemplate with great love and tender pity thy five wounds, pondering over them within me, having in mind the words which David thy prophet said of thee, my Jesus: “They pierced my hands and my feet; they numbered all my bones.”

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sunday 9/11/05 - Year A - Proper 19

Note: I was completing this post last night. When I went to publish it, the board was down for maintenance and I lost all of my thoughts. From now on, I'll probably compose in my text editor then copy and paste here. That way, I won't run the risk of losing my creative work. What you see here is an attempt to recover and recreate what I lost last night.

Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness. How it rolls off the tongue. How easy it is to say, how hard it is to have for someone who has done you wrong. Hardness of heart is a state that takes an enormous amount of energy to sustain, yet we'd rather hold on to our grudge than relax, let go and let God...

I have a friend, or rather he has one and I do not. I hurt him. I violated a sacred trust that he had in me and he now refuses to forgive me. I feel the guilt for the deed done. But I feel the hardness of his heart more.

I have a former church member, who hurt me. I did not forgive him while he was here. I find it so very hard to say his name and the word love in the same sentence.

Hardness of heart is a lump in the throat. It is a pain in the pit of the stomach. It is common. It is rampant. And it ought not to be.

The Lord has given us a very plain example. While on the cross, after being beaten, mocked and crucified, he said "Father, forgive..."

In his exuberance, Peter, who wanted to please his Lord, asked how many times he should forgive his brother. The Mosaic law required three times. I'm sure Peter thought he was being very generous to more than double the height of the bar. Jesus was not impressed, and he answered, "Seventy times seven."

Then he tells this parable about forgiveness. If we want to be forgiven ourselves for our own transgressions, we must be willing to forgive others their transgressions against us. How does the Lord put it? "Our Father... forigive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

Holding a grudge eats into the very soul of a man. It spreads it's poison throughout his system like a cancer. He grows iritible, hateful, impatient, rude.

To ask for forgiveness means that, first, we must admit we are wrong. "Of course I'm not wrong! Why, the very idea!" It's true. We don't want, or we can't, admit we are wrong. It's that old pride thing.

This Sunday is the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center and its surrounding neighborhood in New York city. Since that event, the heart of the nation, both corporately and individually, has been turned toward revenge, not forgiveness.

It seems unpatriotic, almost un-American, to suggest that we should forgive those people who committed such a horible act of violence against us. But if the statistics are to be believed, we have inflicted much more death and destruction on Afghanistan and Iraq than was inflicted on us on September 11, 2001.

Our national heart has turned to hatred, not just at the radical few, but at the Muslim community as a whole. The progression of emotion from fear to hatred is sinful, even if it is natural. We can't help it, of course, because we are human. But we can ask God for forgiveness. And God is, and will be, forgiving. And that brings us back the parable, doesn't it?

In Matthew 5:38-42, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples, as he also tells us:
38"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

But we are more prone to the old way, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Our first reaction is revenge. But, among other things that God did not give the lower creatures, He gave us discernment. He gave us the ability to stop and think. We are not bound by instinct. We have the power to choose our response.

Jesus goes on to say in the Sermon on the Mount,

43"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The choice is yours, Revenge or Forgiveness, You Choose