Living in a world where anger comes increasingly easy and words are used as weapons rather than a means of blessing, can be frightening. It is tempting to get angry and play the child’s game of, “tit for tat”. But as followers of Christ, called to be in the world but not of the world, we are instructed to love and forgive in the mercy granted to us because of Christ..
I write this with Christ’s call to peace in mind:
“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
This week I gained insight into our penchant to hate when anger or fear take control The wisdom of James, half-brother to Jesus, written over two thousand years ago, rings truth today::
“What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet
but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask,
you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures..
You adulterous people, don’t you know that
friendship with the world means enmity against God?
Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world
becomes an enemy of God.”
Our word choices matter.
They reflect how we view ourselves,
how we relate to the world around us and, most importantly,
how we perceive God.
But God’s concern for His people is less about words
and more about attitude and action.
When hate comes easy, we distance ourselves from the One we are called to serve.
So how can we make things right?
Step One: Pray through the words of James and ask God to check the motives of your heart. Are you right with Him or are there areas that need to be confessed and made right? Don’t put it off! Take care of it now and I guarantee your heart will feel a lot lighter.
Step Two: Ask God for the names of three people you would otherwise never pray for. Jesus said we are to love and pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) so start praying and be faithful to watch for miracles large and small.
Step Three: Take your focus off of yourself. Ask God to show you how you can love the people in your life better as you choose to trust Him more.
In recent weeks I have been encouraged and found direction from the Apostles who faced every sort of difficulty we face–and much more. I invite you to consider the wisdom of Peter and Paul:
“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand,
that He may lift you up in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
I Peter 5: 5b-7
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you
to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage . . . .”
Humility is beautiful in God’s eyes, something we fail to see. Ask God to embrace humility as you determine to trust Him in every area of your life..
Do you yearn for authentic relationships? Then take your focus off yourself and look to being a blessing in the lives of others as Christ leads.
This is one I go to often:
Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Bless those who persecute you;
bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud . . .
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:9, 12-21
Looking for wisdom and direction in times such as these? Look no further than the Scripture as you love others, not because they deserve it, but because it reflects Christ’s love poured out on you. Life is more than words . . . much, much more!
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause
righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.”
All to His Glory!