As you have seen I have posted some questions that cause us step back and say, “Hmmmm.”
I have recently been challenged by the Holy Spirit to walk deeper according to Isaiah 55: 8-9;
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)
At first I was curious why He was telling me to live deeper by this passage. I thought I believed it and was living by it but since He confirmed it through another person I decided I had better seek Him more diligently to find out why?
It has been an interesting journey in finding the answer and I would like to share a little portion of it with you. I have had the privilege to write a few sermons from this adventure, as painful as it was, the reward has been awesome. One of the amazing things was hearing me praise God for allowing me to experience the pain and growth of this adventure.
It all comes down to being led by the Holy Spirit instead of our flesh.
Pride or humility.
Forgiveness or revenge.
Wait on God or react.
Love or selfishness.
Mercy and grace or malice.
To believe the best in someone or act out our emotions.
You either live by the Word or you live by the world.
God is in control or Satan is in control.
So the previous post on the “Golden Rule” comes back to either we walk by our feelings, emotions and are controlled by our flesh or we step back and seek the Holy Spirit for guidance.
He has reminded me over and over to be still, calm down and decide if I want to grow and increase my faith or seek revenge. We are presented with the challenge to walk by faith and be changed in His likeness or allow our anger---our temper to strike out in order to hurt another.
If we choose to hurt another we have only hurt ourselves and usually find out afterwards it did not feel as good as we thought at the time we annihilated them.
Most of the time we say mean things because we want the other person to know we are mad, we are hurt, we didn’t get our way, or they didn’t do or say what we wanted. So we strike out in hatefulness to ensure that they know we are mad.
What Jesus asks of His followers according to the “Golden Rule” is to surrender the right to personal revenge. In other words, surrender your free will.
Are you willing to give up your freewill to live according to His Word?
Are your feelings more important than another’s?
Your actions will reveal the true answer. There may be times we react in anger and realize what we have done was wrong and it is at that point we should confess our sins and apologize. But do we…………or do we decide to live by our pride?
Do we develop an attitude that they deserved it? Better yet, when we realize we were wrong do we immediately correct the hurt or do we enjoy the power of controlling them by making them suffer a little while?
Do you feel remorse and apologize for what you did or do you find a way to make the other person feel it was their fault? They made you react that way because ……………..?
How long did it take before you to said, “I am sorry”?
What I learned was about the attitude we should have toward those who wrong us. Rather than getting even, we should be willing to go to the opposite extreme. We need to be ready to humble ourselves for the kingdom of God. We need to understand that vengeance isn’t ours, but the Lord’s (Romans 12:19).
The human tendency has been to seek the emotional satisfaction of revenge for perceived injury. Our instinctive response to any kind of injury is hatred and desire for vengeance. This is why Jesus made it so clear in His Sermon on the Mount that not only outward murder but also inward hatred is subject to God’s judgment (Matthew 5:22-23).
Jesus implied that we must give up personal vengeance altogether. There is a difference between confronting evil and seeking personal revenge. It is possible to confront evil with a desire for the redemption of its perpetrator. We are called to love a sinner while confronting his sin, but when we seek vengeance we are motivated by hatred—a desire to make someone suffer for what they have done to us.
In Matthew 5:38-41Jesus is teaching us that we need to give up any sense of entitlement to personal revenge, to be purged of the motivation of personal vengeance. By asking them to turn the other cheek, Jesus meant that His disciples should be motivated by love and a desire for the redemption and forgiveness of offenders—even when opposing their actions.
You may submit to or resist the person who is opposed to you but there is no place in "love" for "ill will". There is no room in "love" for the desire to "hurt", or for the delight in destroying another person.
Several years ago when I wrote a sermon on careless words the Holy Spirit showed me a brief vision of Judgment Day.
It was a painful vision and one that I am sure many will be stunned by, for all of the things we have done and we will give an account for, I know I was.
I will share a brief portion of what I saw and heard:
“As we stand before Jesus we will give an account for our words…..imagine what it will be like to stand before Jesus and He replays an incident where you hurt someone. He allows you to see the hurt, the tears, the damage you did and how it affected their lives.
He will also show you what He saw in your heart at that time …..your evil intent, your malice towards them, your selfishness, your eagerness to hurt them, your thoughts and your pride.
He will also show you how He tried to stop you and the very moment you made the decision to follow your free will which was empowered by your fleshly emotions. You will see what He saw to the degree of how much you really wanted to hurt that person because you were angry, hurt or disappointed.
The biggest hurt and embarrassment will come when He shows you how deeply you broke His heart. You broke His heart before you broke the heart of your victim.
As I watched this played out the remorse was too late and the person was so fearful that they were going to hear, “Depart from me you wicked servant, I never knew you.” This person was crying uncontrollably and trying to say, “I am sorry” but Jesus said, “It is too late, I tried to stop you and I told you not to do it”.
Then when you disobeyed and hurt them I told you to go and say, “I’m sorry at the time but your pride prevented you.”
Jesus allowed that person to see the hurt they caused the other and the struggle they encounter to forgive. He allowed them to see the hurt the other carried for the remainder of their life.
He showed them how pride had stopped them from being obedient and saying, “I am sorry”. They had decided their feelings were more important than the other’s.
I will never forget the fear on their face, the intensity of trying to say they were sorry, and how they were begging Jesus to give them another chance.
He lovingly told them, “It was too late.””
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV
Revenge is the act of intentionally harming others, through harassment, assault, selfishness, jealousy or manipulation.
The purpose of hurting another is to wound the victim deeply through malice hoping to make them feel dejected, depressed, and/or fearful. Usually this is followed by a sense of power and the desire to let the victim know you have struck and you will punish them in some way.
A person who tries to live and walk by the Spirit will use Galatians 5:16-25 as a blueprint;
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV)
Living by the Spirit is total commitment to discipleship (Luke 14:25-33) and it is crucifixion with Christ (Galatians 2:20).