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Posts Tagged ‘serving others’

“He said this to me…”, “I can’t believe she overlooked me for…”, “They didn’t invite me…”, “She said what to my child?”, “That was so rude…how mean…how could she…”

How easy it is to turn on the ‘mind tape-recorder’ and let it play and re-play and play again when we’ve been offended.  We begin to hold onto the offense tenaciously, justifying it over and over in our minds why we are right to be hurt so.  Sometimes we really are right.  Sometimes people really are rude.  Sometimes others really do exclude us, or our children, and it really does hurt.  Sometimes our husbands don’t show us love by their actions or their words.  But…

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil… 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5

This summer, as the kiddos and I are memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 (“the looooove chapter”), God is really making me learn this.  No, I’m not talking about just learning the actual words, but I’m talking about the meaning behind them.   When I say “Love is patient; love is kind” or “Love is not self-seeking” or “It is not easily angered”, I am really challenged by what this will look like in my life when I *am* self-seeking or easily angered or unkind.  This kind of love seems impossible!

And, it is.  Whenever I become hurt about something–and I’m just going to go off on a limb here and assume I’m not the only one who becomes easily offended by others–my natural self, my flesh, wants to retaliate and hurt back.  I want to review the hurt as if we’re in a courtroom and I’m the judge who finds myself innocent and the other person wrong!  I want justice.  I want the world to be right.  But, because of all of our sins, we humans mess things up.  We hurt one another.  We overlook one another.  We exclude people, sometimes purposefully, sometimes accidentally.  The list goes on and on.  We are ripe for offense.

The choice is this:  we can either live continuously in an offended mode seeking our own version of justice or we can believe God’s Word is real.  My desire is to see my sin of holding onto offenses (either against me or against others close to me) quickly and to ask God to give me His strength to let them go.  Jesus is our example:

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  1 Peter 2: 23

Here are some other power-filled words that can help us take a hurt and deal with it in a godly manner:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay”, says the Lord.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12: 17, 19, 21

If we call ourselves Christians, we just can’t hold onto our rights.  Others may tell us, we may tell ourselves!, that we have the right to be hurt, or mad, or angry…but if we are Christians and believe God’s Word is true, we “have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  If it is Christ living in me, then I need to deny–crucify–my rights, my flesh.  When I am hurt by others, I need to recognize it as sin and ask God to forgive me and give me the strength to forgive others and to love them.  Perhaps the best antidote to the disease of offense is loving and serving those who have offended.  We just can’t do something like that unless we’ve been emptied of ourselves and our rights and filled up to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.  When we choose to love others instead of harboring anger or bitterness towards them, we are showing them Christ.  We are decreasing; He is increasing.

I’ve found that when I allow myself to become offended about things, it’s easier to be offended the next time someone hurts me.  It’s an insatiable cycle.  But, when I let go of the offense, God strengthens my spirit so the next time I am tempted to become offended, I remember that I need to let go of my rights and trust that God will take care of the situation.  He might cause the other person to change, but more than likely He will change me.  He might remind me that I am to “set my mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3: 2) and those things that seemed so important before take on a whole new light.

Love, Wendy

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