Personal Note: I would like to apologize for my break in the study of Hebrews. I pray you continued on your journey and are learning a lot as you spend time with God. This study is one that God took me through last year and I have grown tremendously through it. But just because I have grown in it, doesn’t mean it is now easy. This month I have had to revisit some of the lessons that I had learned and walk myself through them again. I have also learned some new ones and have gotten to greater depths on others. It is difficult to write about something so personal and hard for me to walk out completely myself. At times I want to be like Jonah. I want justice served and “Nineveh” to get what they deserved. I do not want to walk in lovingkindness but want to stand up for what is “right.” Or at least what I feel is right. As I journey through these lessons again and again I remove one more layer of myself. I hope you will continue with me because I know God has great things for us!
Lately I have had my eyes reopened to another tactic that Satan uses to stop us in our tracks. It tries to get us to turn against each other. Christians fighting with Christians. Parents against children and children against parents. Friends against friends. Disagreement, strife and bitterness slowly works its way into the seen and little by little we each take a pit stop on our journey. Some even set up camp, never to return to the road God had intended.
Our next step in our travels through Hebrews is found in the second half of Hebrews 12:15 (NLT). “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
It starts with a comment, a suggestion, a “constructive criticism.” If allowed to fester in turns into an annoyance, a frustration and eventually becomes a thorn in your flesh which will go deeper and deeper until the wound is too hard to hide. An offense, if not treated properly, can destroy a life.
I can see in my life where I have allowed an offense to sit and simmer, and it has kept me parked on the side of the road far too long. I recently went through the Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer. It was one of the best studies I have done – I highly recommend it! In this study she talked about offenses in the time of Gideon and the impact that they had. I think the impact it can have in our own lives is still true today.
“The bickering among God’s people cost precious time and energy that could have been reserved for more important tasks….Think of all the ways you’ve seen the enemy gain ground when discord has developed among God’s people.” (Priscilla Shirer, from her Gideon study.)
Thinking back on my study of the Armor of God, one of the weapons Satan uses is fiery darts, distractions. If he can set our tents on fire and cause us to stop fighting our godly battles and instead scurry around trying to put out a fire he has succeeded.
Bitterness can entrap us. It causes us to focus on one thing. And that one thing is ME. When we are too focused on how something affects us, how that makes us feel or how that ruins our plans, we can become bitter. We feed our sense of entitlement. “We don’t deserve to be treated this way. We deserve better. We deserve more. I know what is right and if everyone would just do it my way things would be good.”
I don’t know about you, but I have seen several of these thoughts come through my mind and start to take root. But as I study through this chapter in the book of Hebrews, I am beginning to clearly see the error in this logic. As I practice living at peace with everyone and giving others the grace that I have already received, I begin to get a clearer picture of what really matters.
What matters is that I love other as Christ loves me. Not that I get what I want or I deserve, but that I am busy doing the Father’s work. I am actively pursuing the Lord and seeking His direction for my life. I focus on what I should do and try not to even think about what they should do.
It is all about doing what glorifies God, not what glorifies me.
So the next time you have the opportunity to get offended, try a different tactic. Instead of building your case, ask God to show you a way to love them. Leave the defense work to God. He knows how to reach a heart quicker than you!
Remember it is not about you, it is about you showing them the love of Christ.
Mile 14 Challenge
One page 14 of your journal write the title, “You’ve got this, God” on the top of the page.
Tomorrow or the next day when you get the opportunity to get offended, write down the offense. Then pray and ask God to help you navigate through this tricky situation. Ask Him to protect your heart and to speak truth to the situation. Ask for wisdom on how you should respond to this person, or if a response is necessary. Then listen and allow Him to guide you. After you finish praying, write down any steps you feel like the Lord is telling you to take and then write the words, “Lord, I trust that you have everything under control. That you will lead and guide me and help me to walk in love towards (name.) Bless (name) and help me to love them like Christ loves me.”
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
OPL Hebrews 12 Series