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Reveling in a Rival's Travails


   I just cycled out of the political process after 30 years. Today’s political stage is smash mouth theatre and we live in a ‘gotcha’ world. People love to see leaders and celebrities fall. Even casual observers enjoy the blood sport of seeing the sins of prominent people on display. And every one of us will smile when the sanctimonious leader who opines against sin falls on the very sword they wield against us.

   No one likes a hypocrite. Christ held great wrath towards the religious leaders of his day who abused others with the twisted religious laws. But Christ also taught us to withhold judgment of others and to forgive others, seventy times seven times. He said those with purity of heart were the children of God; and that the merciful among us would find mercy ourselves.

   Scripture says overcome evil with good. But politics and business often says hit them back harder. Expose their sins and rub it in their face for the entire world to see.

   We can all become voyeurs when those we dislike succumb to scandal, hardship or embarrassment. I raise my own hand in confession of that sin!

   But let each of us on this day be mindful of how fragile the human condition has actually become. Often the most beautiful, wealthy and powerful among us, who seemingly ‘have it all’ , are really hurting on the inside. They struggle with their own demons and face personal challenge, addiction or absence of love.

   How we respond to the travails of others should reflect the spirit of God within us. We don’t have to feel sorry for despots or forgive oppression or evil; but let God judge the eternal. Each of us will face our own judgment. By resisting the need to laugh, gossip and relish in the shame of others, we overcome our own shame. We become able to love our enemies and pray for those who do us injustice.

   This vein of thought and action unleashes holy power and gives us the real advantage over our rivals!

   True to my commitment to you to share more of my passages from my book, Leading From Our Knees, I share with you a daily devotional from the book of Obadiah. I hope you enjoy it and share it with others.

Rejoicing In Another’s Destruction


“In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the stranger carried

away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon

Jerusalem, even thou was as one of them…. For the day of the LORD is near upon all

the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return

upon thine own head.”




   The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Esau was the elder of the

two brothers, but through a series of actions by Jacob and his mother and by the providence of

God, Jacob, not Esau, became the heir and birthright of Israel. The rivalry between the descendants

of Esau and Jacob carried on for centuries.

   Through history, the Edomites opposed Moses, Saul, David, and Solomon. They reveled in

Israel’s losses. Edomites participated in the looting of the sacred city of Jerusalem. The Edomites

had become a strong and fierce people. They settled in the clefts of Petra, an impenetrable area

protected by mountain walls. They were joined in a confederacy of tribes that also offered them

protection. But on this day, their pride, as well as centuries of sin against God and their brothers

and sisters in Israel, were about to be judged.

   How often we see how longtime leadership rivalries can grow into grudges. We see blind

partisanship grow into a viral infection that clouds the judgment of otherwise good leaders of

faith. Just as the Edomites despised all the descendants of Jacob, we see the sin of jealousy and

covetousness against leadership rivals bleed into our daily habits. This sin compounds itself as

we relish and take enjoyment in the failure and demise of others.

   Our lesson today from the Edomites and from the prophet Obadiah is that God does not

condone our negative attitudes and actions of aggression against our rivals. To wish for another’s

destruction is not in the character of leaders of faith who have been called by God to redeem

those who are lost. God told the Edomites: “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward

shall return upon thine own head.”

   What joy and fellowship the Edomites missed over the years by not embracing the descendants

of Jacob and following God Almighty. God’s patience lasted several centuries, but His

judgment did eventually come. Do you have your own rivalry or grudge that you need to confess?

   Have you wished the demise of another person for the wrong reason? Let Obadiah’s

message today bring all leaders of faith into confession and caution about reveling in a rival’s

destruction. All kingdoms and people are the Lord’s.

Our Prayer: Dear Lord, as leaders of faith, we do develop rivalries that become grudges. Convict

us of our sinful thoughts and actions. Keep us from reveling in the failure of others, even if they are not

good persons. Help us to stay grounded in Your love and meekness and power. May our example of

love and charity to all, even our enemies, be the signs we send to others. Amen.

Joe Turnham has gained a national reputation both as a political figure and tier-one consultant to a myriad of clients. Joe’s services are in demand nationally as a consultant, speaker, political advisor and commentator. Click here to learn more about Joe.

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