15 Lord, you understand.
Remember me and take care of me.
Punish for me the people who are hurting me.
Don’t destroy me while you remain patient with them.
Think about the pain I suffer for you, Lord.
16 Your words came to me, and I listened carefully to them.
Your words made me very happy.
I was happy because I am called by your name.
Your name is the Lord God of heaven’s armies.
17 I never sat with the crowd
as they laughed and had fun.
I sat by myself because you were there.
You filled me with anger at the evil around me.
18 I don’t understand why my pain has no end.
I don’t understand why my injury is not cured or healed!
Lord, will you be like a brook that goes dry?
Will you be like a spring whose water stops flowing?
19 So this is what the Lord says:
“If you change your heart and come back to me, I will take you back.
Then you may serve me.
You must speak things that have worth.
You must not speak useless words.
Then you may speak for me.
Let the people of Judah turn to you.
But you must not change and be like them.
20 I will make you as strong as a wall to this people.
You will be as strong as a wall of bronze.
They will fight against you.
But they will not defeat you.
This is because I am with you.
I will rescue you and save you,” says the Lord.
21 “I will save you from these evil people.
I will save you from these cruel people.”
9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give your brothers and sisters more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard. Serve the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes. Pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.
14 Wish good for those who do bad things to you. Wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live together in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.
17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you. Wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I am the One who punishes; I will pay people back,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if your enemy is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21-22
21 Do not let evil defeat you. Defeat evil by doing good.
Jesus Says That He Must Die21 From that time on Jesus began telling his followers that he must go to Jerusalem. He explained that the Jewish elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law would make him suffer many things. And he told them that he must be killed. Then, on the third day, he would be raised from death.
22 Peter took Jesus aside and began to criticize him. Peter said, “God save you from those things, Lord! Those things will never happen to you!”
23 Then Jesus said to Peter, “Go away from me, Satan![a] You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God. You care only about things that men think are important.”
24 Then Jesus said to his followers, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must say ‘no’ to the things he wants. He must be willing even to die on a cross, and he must follow me. 25 Whoever wants to save his life will give up true life. And whoever gives up his life for me will have true life. 26 It is worth nothing for a man to have the whole world if he loses his soul. He could never pay enough to buy back his soul. 27 The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. At that time, he will reward everyone for what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth. There are some people standing here who, before they die, will see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.”
Who has never done anything wrong? Have you ever made a mess when you were supposed to be clean, been mean to someone when you were supposed to be nice, or ignored your rules you were supposed to follow? Have any of us always done exactly what it right and good? No. Have we even wanted to follow every rule? Probably not. Does that make us bad people? When someone doesn’t follow the rules, acts mean, and messy, etc. aren’t they a bad person? What would you do to someone who acted like that? How would you treat them? There may be several valid answers to that, but I do not think it is really the right question. I think the right question is, how would God treat them? How does God say he would treat people that broke rules and didn’t listen? God tells Jeremiah, “If you change your heart and come back to me, I will take you back. Then you may serve me.” God will forgive the bad behavior, but the person must “change” their heart and come back to God. It sounds like God needs an apology, but probably not just saying “I’m sorry.” God needs us to truly change our hearts, not just say the words. Think about a time you were angry with someone, a sibling or a friend. Were you told by a parent or a teacher, to tell each other you were sorry, did they make sure that you said it to each other? Did you really feel sorry when you were made to say the words? This is what it means to “change” your heart. The apology is not real if you don’t mean it, you have to want to apologize, to feel truly sorry, to repent. God’s forgiveness is free, but you have to genuinely want it and ask for it.
It is more than just forgiveness that we are talking about here though. God doesn’t say, change your heart and then go on your merry way. No, “change your heart and come back to me, I will take you back. Then you may serve me.” We are given the chance, the opportunity to serve once we are forgiven. “You must speak things that have worth. You must not speak useless words. Then you may speak for me.” Paul expands on this, “Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give your brothers and sisters more honor than you want for yourselves. Do not be lazy but work hard.” So we are forgiven so we can act in these ways, Gods ways. God forgives us, not for our own sake, but for the sake of others, His forgiveness allows us to do His work. “Do not let evil defeat you. Defeat evil by doing good.” Jesus tells the disciples, ““If anyone wants to follow me, he must say ‘no’ to the things he wants. Whoever wants to save his life will give up true life. It is worth nothing for a man to have the whole world if he loses his soul.”
We have to change our hearts, give up the things we want, the things that come from evil, jealousy and greed. To follow Jesus, to gain true life, and to serve God, we need to change our hearts. This can be the hardest thing to every do, but it can be as simple as truly meaning sorry when we say it.