To live redemptively, is one of the highest levels of spiritual maturity and leadership. That is why I have included this subject in the leadership section of the course.
The word, redemptively comes from the word redeem, which means to buy back. Therefore, to live redemptively can mean the following:
- To take a negative situation and to turn it around for good.
- It is to overcome evil with good.
- To move in the opposite spirit. Instead of doing to others that what they have done to us, or instead of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we do the opposite and love, forgive and bless them.
- To live redemptively, is to do things in such a way, that we draw people to Christ, so that they can be reconciled to God.
Jesus is our greatest example. He said to Nicodemus in John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” His main goal was to save the world and not to judge the world. In James 2:13 says that “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God’s desire to show mercy and forgive is much greater than His desire to judge, because He is a God of mercy.
We read in Luke chapter 9 how the Samaritans rejected Jesus as He was going to Jerusalem. We read in Luke 9:54-56, “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
The spirit of the world today would rather like “to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them!” They would rather see judgment and revenge instead of forgiveness and reconciliation. We see this value in many of the movies we watch and the books we read. Usually, the good guys eventually take revenge and kill or destroy the bad guys. WE who are in Christ are supposed to be different. We should rather desire There are a number of examples in the Bible:
- God used Moses, a murderer to lead His people out of Egypt.
- God turned Saul, who persecuted and murdered Christians into a mighty apostle.
- God forgave and blessed an adulterer like David.
- God forgave a coward like Peter and used him mightily in the Early Church.
- God turned a valley of dry bones into a mighty army in the book of Ezekiel.
There is no situation that God cannot redeem and no person He cannot restore. Not only is God able to redeem and restore but it is in His very nature to do so.
In Isaiah 42:3 we read, “A bruised reed He will not break anda smoking flax, (dimly burning wick) – He will not quench;” A “bruised reed” is someone who have been hurt, disappointed and offended. It is always God’s will to heal and restore such people. Jesus said of Himself in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, … to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
It also says, “dimly burning wick He will not quench…” Someone with a “dimly burning wick” is like a person who once was full of zeal and on fire for God. However, during the passage of time, there is almost nothing left and their light is only a glimmer of what it used to be. Even if the Lord notices any sign of life, His desire for that life to burn brightly again. Jesus said in Revelations 3:2, “… strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.“
In Romans 15:1, we read, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples (immaturity, failing, doubts and qualms) of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The Passion Translation says, “to patiently embrace others in their immaturity.” A true sign of spiritual strength and maturity is to help those who are weak and not put them down and ignore them. Paul said in Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Therefore, in order to live redemptively, we need to bear with those who are weak.
Important keys to living redemptively:
1. The importance of forgiveness:
Forgiveness is always the first step that we take if we want to live redemptively. In 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 we read, ” “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. … lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Forgiveness is one of the ways that we break the demonic influence over situations and people. Furthermore, forgiveness releases God’s grace and power to turn things around. We have the example of Stephen, who forgave his persecutors as he was dying. Soon after this Saul had an encounter with Jesus and became a great apostle. In Ephesians 4:32 we read, “… forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” No matter how difficult the situation may seem, we must forgive!
(2) We overcome evil with good:
In Romans 12:21 we read, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In other words, we do something good to those who have wronged us. We can bless them, invite them for a meal, give them a gift or we do something kind and loving for them.
We read in Proverbs 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” When we do something good for our enemies, we “heap coals of fire on their heads.” It gives God an opportunity to intervene and do something that we could not do. Furthermore, it says in verse 22, “The Lord will reward you!” The reward could be victory over the situation, a restored relationships, vindication or even eternal rewards.
In 2 Kings 6, we read how a band of Syrians came to attack Israel and tried to kill Elisha. The King of Israel captured them and asked Elisha what he should do. In 2 Kings 6:21-23: we read, “Now when the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” In verse 22, Elisha said to the king, “You shall not kill them…. Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” In verse 23 we read, “Then he (the king) prepared a great feast for them; and after they ate and drank… So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel.”
If the king had fought or killed this enemy, it would not have solved this problem. They would have kept on invading the land. But because the king overcame this evil with good, the Syrian raiders never invaded the land again. Living redemptively is one of the ways to have permanent and lasting victory in our lives.
(3) Do not shut doors and burn bridges too hastily:
In 2 Corinthians 5:8, it says that God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Therefore we should not be too hasty to, burn our bridges, close the doors, reject people or terminate relationships. In Luke chapter 13:7-8, Jesus gives a parable about a man who planted a fig tree in his vineyard. He says to the keeper of the vineyard, “, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ Them the keeper said to him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.”
The natural reaction to relationships and situations, that do not seem to bear fruit, is to “cut them down.” If we are too hasty to do so, we may regret it later on. Even if we ever have to leave a church, or go in a new direction, it may be wise to still maintain our previous friendships and relationships. I have seen God bless me when I have done so in my own life. It is sometimes wise to just keep watering those relationships and situations, for they may just bear fruit again one day. We need to try and keep doors open as long as possible, one day we may need to go through them again.
On the other hand, if however, it is evident that no matter how much we invest in a relationship or a situation, it will still not bear fruit, then with great caution we may have to “cut down the tree.” and move on with our lives.
4. Speak redemptive words:
In Ezekiel 37 Ezekiel prophesied life into the valley of dry bones, these bones came alive again and became a great army. In the same way, we can speak God’s blessings and promises over our negative situations and relationships. In Proverbs 18:21 it says, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue!” Our words do influence our lives. We can either release angelic or demonic activity, depending how we say. In Job 22:28, we read, “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways.” By continually speaking good positive words, we can bring light into the dark situations in our lives and redeem negative situations.
5. Try to look for opportunities.
In many of the negative situations that we go through or experience, there may be wonderful hidden opportunities. We have the example of when Paul and Silas were in prison as recorded in Acts Chapter 16. Instead of complaining and being discouraged, they sang songs and praised the Lord. God then performed a great miracle, released them from prison and gave the opportunity to lead the Philippian jailer and his family to Jesus. After the Second World Stalin captured many Koreans and resettled them across Russia. This seemed such a terrible thing to do. However, many of these Koreans were Christians and they spread the gospel throughout Russia. Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
Many times, God has a plan within a plan. For example, Paul said that his imprisonment was an opportunity for the furtherance of the gospel. (Philippians 1:12) God could send a sick person to hospital to reach other patients for the Lord. I once heard the story of someone who asked God to open the door for him to preach the gospel to prisoners in a certain prison. What happened, is that he was arrested, sent to that prison and had his prayer answered. So, if we land up in some negative situation, there may be some wonderful door that God wants to open for us.
6. Look for potential:
Sometimes, weak people that seem to have many hassles and problems could have great potential. We have the example of Gideon in Judges Chapter 6. He certainly looked like a depressed and defeated person, but God saw him as a “mighty man of valor.” God looked at Saul of Tarsus, and instead of seeing a murderer and a persecutor, He saw a mighty potential apostle. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and discern the potential in people. Many proud messed up people today could become spiritual giants tomorrow. They may only be one act of repentance away from their potential.
We read in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...” Notice, it says, “you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” This is a true mark of maturity and son-ship. In verse 48 we read, “Therefore you shall be perfect (mature), just as your Father in heaven is perfect (mature).” This is what God would do!
Jesus came to redeem us from our sins and give us the gift of eternal life. Although, we cannot, do what He came to do, we can however, follow His example and overcome evil with good and live redemptively. In so doing, we will influence people for the kingdom of God and draw them to Jesus. It may be very costly, to live redemptively, but the rewards are so wonderful and abundant. Amen