Sunday, August 15, 2010

July gathering

How many kids do you have?
Don't you guys want to have kids?
Want to have another baby?
When are you due?

You're young, you can have another baby
Heaven needed another angel
There must've been something wrong with the baby


People can say some pretty insensitive things.  Most of the time people mean well; unfortunately knowing they mean well doesn't take away the initial sting from their comments.  So what do we do as Christians, seeking to be more Christ-like every day, when we hear these things?

Let's start with some verses.

Philippians 4:4-5  "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near."

Even when it doesn't feel like it,God is near.  He sees us, hears us, knows what we're feeling.  And yet He calls us to be gentle.  As hard as that may seem, when harsh replies are on the tips of our tongues, where He calls He also provides.  He does not ask us to do that which we cannot, with His help, accomplish.

Ephesians 6:12  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

As much as an individual can seem like the enemy with their insensitive remarks or actions, the hurts we feel are sent straight from our real enemy, God's enemy.  It is that enemy who seeks to destroy our sense of peace and contentment, to steal our joy and trust and hope.  We cannot succumb to the temptation to believe his lies and doubt all we know to be true.

1 Corinthians 3:16  "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"

This is perhaps the best news of the Bible, apart from the message of the Gospel.  God's Spirit lives in each of us!  We are not alone, we are not overlooked, we are not helpless, we do not have to do things in our own strength.  Because His Spirit lives in us, we are able to respond in a gentle and full-of-grace manner.

Galatians 5:22  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law."

I don't know about you, but when I am hurt or offended, the last things I want to exhibit are these fruits.  I want to say what I am thinking, act in anger or defensiveness, withdraw in hurt, or slip into a serious funk.  But, with that awesome Spirit inside of us, we can instead manifest HIS fruits.  And how much better life is when we choose His fruits over our own.

Proverbs 18:21  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Perhaps we feel that another person's tongue is delivering death to our lives.  While it may defy human logic, we will never help a situation by returning death via our own tongues.  In every moment, in every reply, in every word, we have the power to deliver life to another person.  This may mean overlooking what they have said or done.  It may mean lovingly correcting them or educating them.  It may mean showering blessings upon them.  I want to eat life-giving fruit, not gross moldy fruit.  What is my tongue planting today?  I will reap what I sow more than others will reap what I sow.  Yes, they'll be impacted, but not to the degree I will be impacted.

Ephesians 4:29-30  "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.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Oh, this verse again.  I can't get away from it for long!!  (And for that I am thankful, don't get me wrong.)  Sometimes what is true is still wrong to say.  Does it meet the criteria of these verses?  Is it going to build up the other person?  Will it meet their needs?  (Not my needs of venting or being understood, but their needs.)  Is it rooted in bitterness, rage, slander, or malice?  Is it kind and compassionate and reflecting my forgiveness of another's wrongs?  If what I want to say fails even one of these tests, I am not to say it.  Some days that means it will be mighty quiet around here....

Proverbs 31:26  "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

Can this be said of me?  In good times only? Or also in the midst of trials, grief, offense?  Are my words faithful to my Maker?  Or do they reveal that there is more ugly in my heart than Godliness?  It is hard to think of others in the midst of our grief.  It may seem that all we can do is struggle to make it through each day, much less consider how what we're about to say will affect another.  However, there are not any disclaimers to God's Word.  What is true today is true tomorrow and was true yesterday.  He does not tell us that in certain circumstances we can disregard what He has commanded.  That HAS to mean He is right there by our side, ready to equip us and speak for and through us.  He will, through the Spirit, answer in a loving manner.

We talked about how the relationship we have with a person often determines how we will receive what they will say.  If we already trust their motives and their heart, we will likely hear their words through a loving filter. If we have a difficult relationship with them, or barely any relationship with them, we are more likely to interpret their words as offensive.  Realizing this can help us see more clearly and figure out an appropriate response.

Finally, sometimes we need to examine our hearts.  What is causing us to react in anger?  What are we believing that is not true?  Do we believe we are alone, forgotten, wronged, punished - and what the other person just did or said seems to prove our belief to be true?  It can be challenging, but try to empower the other person through your response.  Empower them to support you in your situation, and/or empower them to be more understanding and sensitive with others in the future.  This may require taking some time to collect your thoughts (hours, days, weeks, months, etc.) until you are sure your response is God-honoring.

People will continue to say and do hurtful things.  There is no avoiding it.  And, honestly, I know that I from time to time say hurtful things to others - perhaps without having any idea the negative impact I had upon another person.  The good news is that God's power within us is more than great enough to reply in a way that brings Him glory, and moves us one step closer to healing.

1 comment:

Tom and Mira Ehrlich said...

I love this. This is so hard to do, and even later after much healing and time has taken place, I still hear those remarks and have to hold my tongue and ask God to give me the strength and His power to do what is right and Christ like instead of what I really want to do. Also, I really like what you said about trying to educate people. I feel like I don't do that enough. It is such a sensitive topic at times and I don't quite know what to say when I am caught off guard. This post helps me remember to look to God first when those times come.

Thanks for this!!!