November 2, 2020
When I Want to Be Mean
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“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)
I looked at the text message in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how insensitive and hurtful she was being?
I don’t know who made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Either they had nerves of steel, or they lived on a deserted island with no other people. Because not only do words hurt me, but they make me want to fight back and be mean too.
Have you ever had a situation with someone where you just knew you were right, and they were wrong? Or at least you could make a really good case for your side of things?
Oh, how I have this burning need to state my case in these kinds of situations. It’s like an inner attorney rises up, desperate to defend my rights and get the other person to see things my way. This can feel so justifiable and normal.
Yes. But normal doesn’t always mean good. Especially in light of Colossians 2:6-7, which reminds me, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
This verse is teaching me to live rooted in Jesus’ teaching and overflowing with thankfulness. The opposite of this is when I’m rooted in self-centered opinions and overflowing with grumbling. I need to let God show me how to see things from this other person’s side and gain a different perspective. In doing so, I will be strengthened and taught.
Colossians 3:12-14 reminds me, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV).
My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that what the other person did is now okay. Nor does it mean my feelings don’t matter. Forgiveness means I’ve decided to pursue healing by sweeping my heart clean of resentment and bitterness.
Finally, Colossians 3:17 reminds me, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (NIV).
Everything I do and say tells a story of whom I serve. If I act out of anger and spite, I give in to the ways of the enemy, spreading his darkness. If I honor the Lord with my actions, I serve to further the name of Jesus and spread His light.
At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things.
I processed the text message mentioned above with a family member who said something that brought much clarity: “You know when you’ve taken the high road, God blesses you. You’ve seen these blessings over and over as you’ve made choices that honor God. So choose a blessing today and save yourself the emotional turmoil of trying to prove you’re right.”
I know this isn’t easy stuff. I’m having to live it in the midst of feeling hurt. But just because I feel hurt doesn’t mean I have to add to the chaos by returning more hurt. Responding to something mean with more meanness will only lead to conflict escalation, not resolution. While I can’t immediately fix the hard situation with my friend, I can have a healthier perspective. And when I am more at peace with a healthier perspective, I have a much greater chance of responding in a way that’s a truer reflection of my heart. Remember, just because someone lays something down doesn’t mean we have to pick it up.
We don’t have to fall into the trap of saying ugly things back. We don’t have to betray who we are in a moment of feeling offended.
Instead, we can decide the cycles of hurt going ‘round and ‘round the world today will stop with us. We can take the higher ground and, because we don’t have to live with reaction regret, we can celebrate.
Dear Lord, You know the hurtful words and actions that have come my way. Please give me Your strength not to retaliate, but instead to react based on Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV)
Is it even possible to forgive someone who isn’t sorry for what they did? Learn how to move on when the other person refuses to change and never apologizes with the help of Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. Preorder your copy here today, and get the first three chapters immediately!
You're invited to join Art and Lysa TerKeurst (virtually) at their home as they share how they chose forgiveness even when it felt impossible. Purchase your ticket for the Forgiving What You Can’t Forget Release Day Online Event here.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What takeaway from Lysa’s devotion today can help you as you interact with those in your life who can sometimes be hurtful or insensitive? Join in the conversation here.
© 2020 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.