Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Ephesians 4:26-27, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (TLB)
Ephesians 4, starting with verse 26, reads, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold." Well, there's a biblical clock here on strained relationships/friendships, just like there is on letting dirty dishes sit untouched. The longer you wait to clean it up, the harder it is to clean it up. Our conflict in relationships/friendships are like that too. That’s why it’s wise not to allow things to sit, settle and fester. Remember, according to the Bible, we have a clock on our discord, and that clock runs out at sundown every day! In other words, we really shouldn't be hanging on to our anger, after the end of the day.
That reminds me a lot of those old Western movies I used to love to watch. If you’ve ever seen them, you will know the famous line all the marshal’s use, "You better be out of here by sundown!" Well, that's what we're supposed to be saying to any anger, or resentment, bitterness or conflict that comes up in our relationships/friendships. "Get out of here by sundown!" There's a good reason for this. That’s like leaving dirty dishes. If you deal with them and rinse them right away they're soft and easy to remove what’s left on the plate; just kind of scrape them a little bit and they fall right off. But you know what happens if you wait with a dirty plate? The longer it sits dirty, the harder it is clean.
Makes me wonder if that’s where we coined the term, "hard feelings"? Because our unresolved hurt is just as hard as the non-rinsed dishes! And sadly enough, that's when the Devil gets an opportunity to enter a marriage, or a parent-child relationship, or a friendship, or a church, business, school or workplace.
In conducting various marriage counseling sessions, I’ve discovered that at the core of most every marriage breakup there was an issue that once was small, but it wasn't dealt with when it was small. That’s why it’s so hard to mend marriages, because problems are never dealt with when they occur. They’re not dealt with until what was delayed has now become a damage beyond repair. Which is also why it’s so hard to keep to the current issue, because couples have left so many “small” issues ignored, that now that there’s a problem that happened in January of this year, but we can't deal with it yet, because we're still mediating the argument from January 2003! What's Not Resolved Will Reoccur!
In addition, at the core of broken parent-child relationships or a hurting friendship, or a divided church, there are also people who didn't clean up their anger when it first appeared; when it was still small, when it was still manageable, when it was relatively soft. And now it's led to a terrible hardening outcome. And the truth is, we can’t blame the devil. The Scripture tells us not to give him a “foothold”, but a foothold is just enough space for a person to put their foot in the door. However, the question that needs to be addressed is, who opened the door? The devil couldn’t get his foot in if you didn’t open the door and grant him access. And how do you grant him foothold access? By sending your anger to answer the door!
“Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP).
This is how well you take care of your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness. And do you know this is better care and treatment than some spouses and children receive! All of the emotions that are opening the door for the devil’s foothold into your relationships/friendships are being Held, Nurtured, Harbored and Cultivated…BY YOU! Do You Know What You’ve Deliberately Decided to Do With Your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness? You’ve purposely grasped it, carry, supports and keep it, you have possession of it, you keep it contained and you cause it to stay by allowing it to be held onto tightly and securely. Maybe there's a strained relationship in your life right now. Could that be why God wanted us talking about this today? Well, if that should be the case, there have been far too many sunsets, too many bad feelings you let hang on! Please understand, it will never be smaller than it is today. I know that it's bigger than it used to be, but this is the smallest it's ever going to be. It will never be easier to address that conflict, that resentment, that anger than it is right now, no matter how hard that might seem. It's only going to get harder the longer you let it sit there untouched, unaddressed. It will only get more costly because you’re going to lose relationships, friendships, trust, support, and love.
I always find it amusing and sad that people will quicker redeem cans and coupons, than they will redeem people, relationships, friendships, marriages...It’s sad that we possess the Fruit of the Spirit, yet our Flesh has caused it to Rot.
Listen, I by no means am saying that those of you with “justifiable hurt; and legitimate pain” should not be angry. Even the Scripture doesn’t say that, “GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY…” (MSG) The Bible does not tell us to hide, mask, camouflage, or pretend with our feelings and emotions. We’re never asked to lie about the level of hurt we’ve experienced. However, we cannot take Part of the Scripture, we must embrace it Whole, and the rest reads, “…BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. DON’T GIVE THE DEVIL THAT KIND OF FOOTHOLD IN YOUR LIFE.” (MSG) Get Angry, Deal With it in a Healthy Manner, Then Let It Go Before Sundown! Listen to the Bible, “…DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL…” Well, today, I was sent to you for the sole purpose of taking your discord out of delay mode, and shifting it to deal with it mode instead!
Let no one tell you that anyone is beyond restoration. Not even Jesus felt that way. And He had good reason to kick quite a few folks to curb, but He didn’t…Judas betrayed Him (but He didn’t discard him); Peter denied Him (but He didn’t discard him); Thomas doubted Him (but He didn’t discard him); and in the end, they all left but John, and still He didn’t discard them, in fact, He gave up His life still. And to take it a step further, can you imagine hanging on a cross, dying yourself, between 2 thieves, knowing full well that they are guilty as sin, and yet one calls out to Him, and He still answers.
Don’t discard your loved ones. One day they will be on the other side of dirt, and by then it will be too late to wish you would have dealt with what you delayed. You can bring as many flowers to the grave-site as you wish; you can visit the grave annually; you can sit on top of their tombstone and talk to them all day long about how sorry you are, and still it will be too late! Therefore, deal with it now, and make it a dead issue while they're still alive, for once they are dead and gone, you will be left with the unresolved issue renewing itself in your mind every day.
Today is always your best opportunity to go to that person and do whatever it takes to repair things. Apologize if you need to, confront if you need to, pray together, talk it through. You just can't afford the hard spot in your heart that develops from anger that you stuff inside and let sit and settle. Anger never stays the same size. Bitterness never stays the same size. It always grows.
Remember the veteran dish-rinser, there's nothing to gain in waiting. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. Today is a great day for a new start. So, call them, email them, text them, write them, visit them. Whatever it takes, for however long it takes, put the work in and rebuild your relationship ruins. It can be done, it will be done. No More Delays…Today…DEAL WITH IT!
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
"What’s The Story Behind These Ruins?” You Can'’t Understand The Way People Act, Until You Know Their Story! AND EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY!
“…What’s the story behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG)
“I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my story of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG)
You couldn’t understand the way some people act, until you knew her Story. You watch how they act, how they treat people, you see the bad attitude they have, and you say, “I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t have to deal with her foolishness! I don’t know why he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I will not be treated like I was his aggravating alarm clock that disturbed his beauty sleep!” Or, you respond with the same garbage they just dished out to you. So often we judge people with little, distorted or no information at all! We see what they do, and assume that’s who they are. But rarely is that ever the case.
I’ve discovered that the “make a difference” people in this world, the healers, are the ones who never forget this critical issue in dealing with people: YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE WAY THEY ACT, UNTIL YOU KNOW THEIR STORY! AND EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY!
I remember discovering how wrong I had been about some of the women in my leadership group, AFTER many of them poured out their hearts at our women’s retreat. Late into the night, people you thought you knew revealed the pain in their background. Some of the women who were “distant” were physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually abused. Some of the women who had “bad attitudes” actually suffered from varying mental illnesses (such as depression). Some of the women who “dogged men out“, were in relationships that treated them like property instead of like a person. Some of the women who didn’t like to be a “part of our social gatherings“, were actually ex-alcoholics, and although our events had no alcohol at them, for them, just being in a place with a lot of people, laughing, joking, having fun, listening to music, all gave them urges to need a drink (since that was mostly the settings when they did drink).
In other words, suddenly the lights went on and I said, “So that’s what I’ve been seeing all these years! It had nothing to do with their personality, just their personal, private, painful past.” I felt bad that I had been responding to them based on their deeds, and never considered the needs behind those deeds.
And the truth is, there are some people that we come into contact with on a daily basis (in our homes, churches, work, school, supermarket, laundry mat, hair and nail salon etc…) that are “crying”. But unfortunately, we get so frustrated because we don’t know why they’re crying that we simply ignore the cry, or wait for someone else to come and pick them up and figure it out. I can’t even imagine the amount of people who have left our churches because they were “crying” and no one took the time and patience to figure out why. We were so busy being frustrated by the “noise” of their behavior, attitude, ways, and words that we didn’t listen for the story behind the act of ‘crying’.
We’re so busy reacting, instead of listening. This brings to mind Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 29. He says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their NEEDS, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).
Let’s, as my custom, view this verse in another translation.
“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the NEED and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” (AMP);
In other words, don’t say things that will tear a person down, only things that will build that person up! Why? Because you’re focusing on their NEEDS, not their DEEDS! The word “need” is defined as “something required because it is essential or very important; expressing necessity or obligation; circumstances in which a thing or course of action is required.” And despite what their deeds may have been, there were needs that they stemmed from (if only we would take the patience and time to figure them out). And according to Scripture and the very definition of the word “need”, this is what God is requiring of us, as essential for them.
Listen: Whether that person is your child, your spouse, your parent, your friend, your coworker, or someone at church, they’re response is more about their need than their deed. And no matter what their response, your reaction is to meet their need! You are to love them enough to listen to their story until you can find the chapter their stuck in that needs and requires your help. Are you obligated to do that?
Absolutely! “You are your brother/sisters keeper!” John , “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (vss. 34-35 MSG).
Then 1 John 4:20-21, declares, “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (MSG
And no matter how badly they’ve Acted, you have to love them enough to hear their Story, and be concerned enough to help them write a new Chapter! You can’t love God and not love people! God Himself calls you a liar!
Listen: If you knew their story, you’d understand that many people have been made to feel worthless much of their life. So they make choices based on the fact that they’re viewed as trash by some (especially those closest to them). And that’s one of the hardest battles to be won, is helping a person get past their past, and to forget what they keep recalling. You have to love them Forward! Your love for your brothers/sisters needs to be progressive (which is defined as, ‘proceeding gradually or in stages; engaging in or constituting forward motion’)! They will never get to where they need to be if they remain stuck where they are. And sometimes that means we have to be their “pen” of inspiration. When they feel the horror story is how it ends, we need to step up to the “desk” and say “oh no it’s not! There’s another chapter in you and we’re going to write it out!” They need to know that their character doesn’t die here; this is not the final chapter; the story is not over!
No Matter How They ACT, You Are Responsible to Stay In CHARACTER! Never Act Out of Character!