Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Contempt for a neighbor who is in need is a mark of cruel, sinful pride; it is the man who shows compassion on a needy neighbor who has found the path to true happiness. If you refuse to speak out for the poor and oppressed when the wealthy and powerful are taking from him his few blessings from God, if it inconveniences you too much to help an innocent person who is being unjustly condemned to die, if you excuse yourself after his death by saying, “I didn’t know what was happening”, or “I didn’t know what to say”, do you not know that He who created your heart knows what is in it? Do you not know that He who gives you your breath knows what you are saying? Or do you think that He, like man, will fail in His duty to judge righteously and render to all according to the deeds they have done–or failed to do? No, my son, He will bring every one of your deeds into judgment. And He will have no need to call witnesses to determine the truth of a matter, for He knows every thought that passes through man’s mind. He will certainly cause you and everyone else to reap exactly as you have sown. His justice is perfect in every way; He is incapable of error. Listen, my son. If you refuse to help a needy person, God will plague your life with many curses, but if you give to the poor, you will always have enough for yourself.
You see, a man’s true attitude toward his Creator is revealed in his conduct toward those who are in need. A man who loves God cares for the poor, and a man who secretly hates God despises them. Whoever covers his ears at the plaintiff cries of the poor will himself cry out for help but will not be heard. The attempt to increase riches at the expense of the poor is a mockery of the plight of the poor, and mockery of the poor is taken by God as a personal insult.
When you give to those who are unable to give to you, you are making a loan to God, who pays high interest on His debts and has never failed to repay a loan. So, generously share your bounty from God with those who are in need, and God will generously share His bounty with you. Give to the poor with joy, for God loves a cheerful giver, being one Himself. God will bless the man who is generous, the man who refuses to hoard up goods for himself when a poor person near him is in need.
One who is glad when someone else is hurting is offering a prayer to God for his own pain, and God will certainly fulfill that petition. If you rejoice when someone else is being punished by God, you are saying to God that you enjoy the sight of suffering, and He will see to it that you are given plenty of it to enjoy. Do not vex the soul of the brokenhearted with levity and song; it adds bitterness to their misery. It is like taking away someone’s coat on a cold, windy day, or pouring vinegar on niter. Listen, my son. The pain that God inflicts upon any man is sufficient; add nothing to it.
When someone does evil to you, and then God causes him to reap what he has sown, do not be glad at his suffering and loss. Remember that you too are weak. It will greatly displease the Lord for you to gloat over the pain and hardship of sinners whom He chastens for their wrongdoing. And if you thus provoke the Lord, He may turn His wrath from your enemy and bring it upon you instead, for God is far more concerned with keeping His own household in order than with correcting the wicked. If you would belong to God and be happy, then love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who treat you with cruelty and persecute you. If someone has done evil against you, leave vengeance completely in the hands of the One who knows all things. In doing so, you will demonstrate to God that you trust Him to be your Avenger, and He will all the more zealously avenge you, pouring coals of fire, so to speak, upon the head of the wicked and pouring out blessings upon you. You can trust God. Be patient and wait for Him. Do not take His matters into your own hands. Never say, “I’ll avenge the wrong that has been done to me.” Wait on the Lord. Let Him defend you.
An ungodly man researches old records to unearth past transgressions. His lips burn with a yearning to ruin the reputation of others by spreading rumors concerning sins which they may have committed in the past. The Lord despises the man who is arrogant and harsh with others, and such a man, deep in his perverse heart, despises God. Unknown to him, his ungodly ways are loathed by God and will lead him to open humiliation. The chasm of sarcasm is deep, and the soul whose tongue digs it will himself be cast into its suffocating depths.
Disappointment sickens the heart, but hope that is realized renews the heart’s love of life and fills it with joy. A heart that is grieved cannot escape its grief by pretending to be happy, for when the laughter ceases, the pain always returns. Only God can mend a broken heart, and when someone comes to Him for mercy, healing the heart is His first concern. Some experiences in life are extraordinarily difficult to bear. Pray to escape them, and be kind to those who do not. Unrelieved sorrow can completely discourage someone’s spirit. To those who are constantly suffering, there is nothing new in a new day. To them, dawn is a dreaded event, for they know it will only bring more grief to their afflicted lives. God created man with a spirit that can for a long time endure great sorrow of heart, but once a man’s spirit is broken, it renders him helpless to bear life’s burden. When someone’s spirit is broken, his health deteriorates, and his whole life begins to fall apart.
Merriment in the heart expresses itself on the countenance, and a person with a merry heart has a continual feast within himself. His merry heart acts as a medicine for his whole body. Not everything that gives people joy is good for them, however. A foolish man is made joyful by foolishness. You must yourself be good in order for what is good to give you joy. To the wise, a fool’s joy seems absurd. It is as unseemly for a fool to be happy as it would be for an ignorant, inebriated vagrant to be king.
What a man desires determines how gentle he is to others. If he desires the favor of God above all else, he will be merciful to others as he pursues it. If he desires anything of earth more than he desires the favor of God, he will be inconsiderate and unkind to others in his quest for it. Love for God enables a man to be like Him, for it opens the door to be loved and made whole by God. No one can say, “I have cleansed my own heart from the stain of my sin.” No, my son, God is the only one who knows how to make us happy and good.