Christian women, Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Safe Spaces and Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves: 6 Ways to Follow Jesus’ Example of Handling Hurt

Originally published April 13, 2018

Political correctness.

Safe spaces.

Trigger warnings.

Microaggressions.

You can hardly say the sky is blue or water is wet these days without offending somebody. It shouldn’t be surprising to us that when self reigns on the throne of a person’s heart, she will bow down and serve the king of personal feelings. And as a loyal subject, she will fight to the death any perceived threat to that ruling authority. It is normal for unsaved people to live their lives with their feelings leading them around by the nose.

It is not normal for Christians to live that way. And it concerns me that I’m seeing more and more Christian women who allow themselves to be controlled by their feelings rather than being controlled by Christ.

(I’m about to step on some toes, here, so if you’re offended {maybe especially if you’re offended} by what follows, hang in there with me until we get past the hurt feelings and arrive at God’s Word, or you’re actually going to be proving my point.)

❤ Last May, the day before Mother’s Day, I was sort of mindlessly flipping through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, when something caught my notice. Tweet after tweet, status after status, article after article about Mother’s Day. But the vast majority of those posts were not honoring and encouraging women who are mothers, which is the whole point of Mother’s Day. They were focused on women for whom Mother’s Day is painful. Women who are infertile. Single women who haven’t had children. Women who have lost children in miscarriage or other tragedies. People whose mothers have died. Mothers whose children are estranged.

❤ As April Fool’s Day approached this year, I began noticing admonishments not to say, “I’m pregnant,” as an April Fool’s joke on social media in order to protect the feelings of women struggling with infertility or have miscarried.

❤ I have heard from dozens of women who refuse to obey God’s command to join with a doctrinally sound local church – even though they’re physically and logistically able to – because they have been hurt by a previous church.

❤ Christian women who follow false teachers commonly lash out in anger – often displaying the opposite of every one of the fruits of the Spirit – when presented with incontrovertible biblical evidence that the teacher is promoting false doctrine.

❤ And have you seen the fracas over racism in evangelicalism lately? Ungodly statements and accusations are flying from both sides of the aisle because, feelings: feelings of being owed something, fear of man feelings of not wanting to appear racist, feelings of retribution, feelings of pride and self-righteousness.

Life circumstances and other people genuinely and validly hurt us sometimes. No sane person would deny that, and certainly no Christian with a modicum of Christlike compassion would deny it. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the painful situations I mentioned above. Pain – deep, agonizing, and often undeserved pain – goes with the territory of being human. None of us are immune.

And, if you’re a Christian, you worship a Savior who more than understands what it’s like to be hurt – not just the physical torture of flogging and crucifixion, but the emotional pain during his life of being “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Jesus experienced far more misery than you or I ever will, and yet, He handled it in a way that brought honor and glory to God. As His disciples, we are called to follow His example when it comes to our own pain.

Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign

During His lifetime on earth, Jesus’ own brothers and sisters didn’t believe in Him. The leaders and members of His “church” abused, slandered, and falsely accused Him. His community eventually wanted Him dead.

Jesus could have allowed this grief to stay at the forefront of His heart and mind, governing His thoughts and reactions towards others and towards life in general. But He didn’t. He chose to deal with His pain in a godly way, refusing to allow it to control Him, paralyze Him, or deter Him from His mission, but putting it in its proper perspective. Pain is not paramount – holiness is. Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign – He determined that His heart and mind would be led by holy thoughts and actions.

Jesus didn’t expect people to accommodate His feelings

Can you imagine Jesus demanding a safe space or that people refrain from posting certain things on social media in order to protect His feelings? Neither can I. It must have been monumentally difficult to endure the insults and mockery that constantly came His way, especially when He had the power (and the right) to shut those people up so He wouldn’t have to deal with all of that. Instead, Jesus accepted that hurtful people and circumstances are part of life and He proactively chose to respond to those people and circumstances in a godly way – setting an example for us in the process.

Jesus forgave

Not just one person, one time, or one situation. Seventy times seven. Even if the person didn’t ask for forgiveness. Even if the person innocently stuck his foot in his mouth. Not once do we see Jesus harboring bitterness in His heart or holding a grudge against someone who hurt Him personally, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Jesus forgave and moved on with His life and ministry.

Jesus was content

Sometimes, it’s not a person who hurts us, but the circumstances God has sovereignly brought or allowed into our lives. Did you catch that? Anything that’s going on in your life is only going on because God is permitting it or causing it. From infertility to medical conditions to racism to the consequences of sin, God is in charge of what happens to you, and He uses these painful situations to teach you obedience, cause you to depend on and trust in Him, and conform you to the image of Christ.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” Jesus said. Jesus was homeless, poor, unmarried, and childless, yet never once do we see Him complain about any of these circumstances. He accepted the station in life to which God had assigned Him and was content with His lot, making the most of His situation to the glory of God. We can follow Jesus in that godly mindset, realizing that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and that the Holy Spirit can empower us to find ways to be content no matter our situation.

Jesus didn’t retaliate or sin when His feelings were hurt

If our response to a hurtful person or situation is to take vengeance, lash out in anger, or wallow in self-pity, we aren’t acting the way Jesus did. He never retaliated against those who hurt him, failed to exercise self-control in responding to unkind people, or felt sorry for Himself as a result of his situation. Jesus always perfectly showcased the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Jesus focused on others, not Himself

Did Jesus stay home from the wedding at Cana because He couldn’t deal with the fact that someone else was getting married and He wasn’t? Was He overcome by hurt and jealousy when people brought their children to Him because He longed to experience the joys unique to fatherhood? No. He made sure the happy couple’s big day was even better by celebrating with them and giving them an awesome gift. He embraced and blessed other people’s children, pouring out His love upon them.

It is absolutely and inarguably incumbent upon us as compassionate, caring, kind, and merciful followers of Christ to weep with those who weep in the midst of suffering. We follow in Jesus’ footsteps by comforting others with the comfort He has shown us. We do our best to be sensitive to the hurts of others and not cause additional or unnecessary pain. We lift up the fallen and strengthen the knees that are weak, just like Jesus did.

But God also requires us to draw upon His strength, look past our own pain, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Just as it is good and right to comfort a friend who’s infertile or grieve with parents who have miscarried, it is also good and right for that friend and those parents to rejoice on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with those whom God has chosen to bless with children, or to celebrate with loved ones who have just announced a pregnancy. We take the focus off ourselves and put it on others, just like Jesus did.

 

Life hurts sometimes. And it’s OK to feel that pain. To grieve over loss. To mourn over suffering. But we cannot let those feelings be the boss of how we act and think. If we are to follow Christ, we must ask Him to help us follow His example of dealing with our raw and tender feelings: not expecting people to tiptoe around us, not allowing bitterness or unforgiveness to take over our hearts, not allowing our pain to reign and cause us to sin. We follow Christ’s example by taking up our cross daily, following Him, serving others, and living to the full the lives God has ordained for us. Whether it’s easy or it’s hard. Whether we’re joyful or sorrowful. Whether we feel like it or not.

Sanctification, Sin

Throwback Thursday ~ Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It

Originally published August 31, 2018

Lately, every time I turn around, I keep bumping up against the same biblical concept. It’s showing up in my personal Bible study time. In Sunday School. In sermons. Even in a revival my husband and I served at this week.

Worldliness, and the need for Christians to be set apart.

What is worldliness? It’s thinking, acting, and “attituding” the way lost people think, act, and attitude. It’s taking everything in through a fleshly filter instead of a biblical one and putting yourself out there through a fleshly filter instead of a biblical one. It’s dealing with the world around you in any way Jesus wouldn’t.

God has called His people to be set apart from the world from day one. (OK, day six, if you want to get all technical about it.) You can’t be more set apart than living at an address God personally designed for you and plopped you down in the middle of.

The whole purpose of the Promised Land, the Law, driving out the pagan nations and destroying them, depending on God to miraculously win wars and conquer the enemy, was for God to set apart a people for Himself. To raise up a nation that the rest of the world could look at and say, “Hey, those Israelite folks are different, and their God is different, too. What’s their one God got that our pantheon doesn’t?”.

Jesus reminded God’s people what it looked like to be different and set apart from the world. So did His disciples. And the New Testament is chock full of passages in which the apostles exhort Christians and the church to be holy and distinct from the world in heart, mind, and behavior.

Why? Because being different, and holy, and counter-cultural is weird, and counter-intuitive, and attention-grabbing to the world. And once we’ve got their attention, we’ve got an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

Yes, sister, God has called you to be a weirdo for Jesus.

And you’re going to have to fight the flesh to do it, because worldliness is insidious and subtle. Just like that sneaky, slimy serpent slithered in to paradise with no alarm bells ringing, we modern day Eves often don’t even notice worldliness has slipped in and tempted us to think and act in ways it has never even occurred to us aren’t godly. Sure, we don’t drink, and we don’t chew, and we don’t go with boys who do. And we don’t rob banks or murder people. But is that all there is to it? Avoiding the big, bad, behavioral no-no’s?

Before Eve ever extended her hand to pluck the fruit off the tree, Satan had already won several skirmishes with her heart. He had gotten her to doubt God’s character, disbelieve God’s word, and disregard God’s desires in favor of her own. And isn’t he still doing that with us today? Jesus warned us:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

As we look at these four ways worldliness can tiptoe into our actions unannounced and unnoticed, let’s also think about how our actions are merely the fruit of what’s going on in our hearts.

What are some of those sneaky snakes of worldliness, and how can we mortify those sins and respond in a godly way?

1.
Being quick to take offense

It’s getting to the point where you can hardly carry on a mundane, “Nice weather we’re having,” conversation any more without being accused of racism, gender bias, or having some sort of “privilege”. Even compliments and positive comments are likely to be twisted and heard by the easily offended as insults or condescension.

Think of the way Jesus endured and responded to the verbal abuse and false accusations intentionally and maliciously hurled at Him. Can you imagine Him freaking out at an innocent, offhand remark, someone’s tone of voice, or somebody unintentionally sticking her foot in her mouth?

Neither can I, yet this form of worldliness is probably my biggest area of weakness. It’s just the pride of life, pure and simple. (Well, not pure, I guess.) How dare anyone ruffle my feathers!

And how do I respond? Maybe the same way you do. I get my back up and strike back, fighting fire with fire. I rarely take a moment to step back and think that maybe this person didn’t intend for her tone to sound like that, or maybe to her that word means something different than what it means to me, or maybe she’s just PMS-ing today, or maybe I misheard or misinterpreted what she actually said. I don’t think, “How can I respond in godly love to this person?”. I don’t think at all. I just vomit my fleshly emotions all over her. Instead, I’m to respond in patience, kindness, and love, even if the situation calls for standing firm on Scripture without budging.

The Serpent Slayer:

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:16-18

2.
Being “Tolerant”

The world has been torturing this poor word “tolerant” for at least a few decades now. The definition has morphed from its actual meaning of “peacefully putting up with something that bothers you” to “embracing and celebrating any and every behavior and ideology (except biblical Christianity) as worthy and valid.” You’re not even allowed to think someone else’s worldview or behavior is wrong. You have to think it’s good or you’re a terrible person.

Now, of course, most Christians would not go around blatantly proclaiming that any old religion is just fine or that sexual immorality and perversion are perfectly acceptable or that abortion is a valid health care choice. But what about shying away from sharing the gospel with our Muslim neighbor for fear of appearing to be an Islamophobe? What about attending the homosexual “wedding” of a friend or loved one in order not to offend him and to maintain the relationship? What about failing to stand up for what’s right at work when unethical practices are the industry standard?

The Bible is very clear that following Christ and loyalty to His Word divides people. It divides family members from one another. It divides friends from one another, and it divides God’s people from those who claim to be God’s people and from the rest of the world. Jesus came to unite repentant sinners to God, not to unite unrepentant sinners to saved people. We must do what is right and biblical, refusing to participate in sinful and worldly activities, and lovingly, yet firmly, calling sinners to repentance and faith in Christ, even if it costs us family members, friends, our reputations, our churches, or our jobs.

The Serpent Slayer:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…Submit yourselves therefore to God. James 4:4,7a

3.
Being Flippant or Consumeristic about Church

The world has no reason to think going to church is important. Why would they? They’re lost. And if they do darken the door of a church, it’s not because they love Christ and want to worship Him, it’s ultimately for self-centered reasons. To assuage their guilt, to get Mom or the wife off their back, to feel better about themselves, to satisfy their curiosity.

Gathering to worship God is what genuinely regenerated Christians do. We have a God-given craving for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and approaching His throne in prayer, praise, and the study of His Word together. Skipping church at the drop of a hat, shopping around for a church with all the slappy happy bells and whistles that make you comfortable, demanding that your church cater to your feelings, opinions, and preferences, strolling in with a “what’s in it for me” attitude? Uh uh. Those are worldly, self-centered attitudes, and might even indicate that you’re not saved.

Christians see faithfully attending and serving at church as vital to their relationship with Christ and other Christians. It’s not, “What’s in it for me?” but “How can I serve you?”. It’s not, “What did I get out of the worship service?” but “How can I wholeheartedly throw myself into the worship of Christ?”.

The Serpent Slayer:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

4.
Being Defiant

If ever there were a generation of Americans who treated defying authority as the national pastime, this is it. Have you seen all the videos of people pulled over by the police who refuse to comply with their every request, sometimes even turning violent? How about the way wives these days run their marriages and treat their husbands like children? And the way children are allowed to rebel at school and at home? What about the rioting in the streets we’ve seen over the last few years?

The more I study the New Testament, the more passages I find instructing Christians to submit to the authorities in our lives. I’m not sure if I’d call it a major theme of the New Testament, but it sure isn’t a minor one. We’re to submit to the government, governing officials, earthly “masters” (literally if we’re slaves, figuratively – bosses, supervisors, etc. – if we’re not), wives are to submit to our husbands, children are to submit to their parents, and church members are to submit to our pastors and elders. Every human institution.

God’s people are a submitting people. Submitting to the authorities in our lives paints a picture for the watching world that one day every knee will bow in submission to the ultimate authority – God. And because God is our ultimate authority, the only time we disobey the human authorities in our lives is when what they’re asking us to do would cause us to disobey or dishonor God. Otherwise, we humble ourselves and joyfully and graciously submit.

The Serpent Slayer:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. 1 Peter 2:13a

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

 

There are so many more ways Satan tempts Christians to act like the world. We put our faith in politicians to fix things rather than in God. We approach the world with a posture of entitlement and demand our rights instead of laying them down to serve others. We lash out in bitterness at those who have hurt us, holding grudges and cutting them out of our lives instead of forgiving as Christ has forgiven us. The list could go on and on.

But however worldliness manifests itself, it all has the same serpentine root in the heart: doubting God’s character, disbelieving God’s Word, and disregarding God’s desires. And when our hearts become ambivalent about God, and we push His desires and directives aside, the void that’s left has to be filled with something.

That “something” is the idol of self. I want to do what I want to do and I don’t want anybody standing in my way. This thing, or person, or idea makes me happy and comfortable, and keeping it is more important to me than what God says about it. That’s ultimately what’s going on in our hearts when we think, speak, and act in worldly ways.

out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks

Submit to the Scriptures. Be subject to the Savior. Slay the serpent of worldliness.


What are some other forms of worldliness that can sneak into our lives,
and what Scriptures can we use to combat them?

Sanctification, Sin

Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It

Lately, every time I turn around, I keep bumping up against the same biblical concept. It’s showing up in my personal Bible study time. In Sunday School. In sermons. Even in a revival my husband and I served at this week.

Worldliness, and the need for Christians to be set apart.

What is worldliness? It’s thinking, acting, and “attituding” the way lost people think, act, and attitude. It’s taking everything in through a fleshly filter instead of a biblical one and putting yourself out there through a fleshly filter instead of a biblical one. It’s dealing with the world around you in any way Jesus wouldn’t.

God has called His people to be set apart from the world from day one. (OK, day six, if you want to get all technical about it.) You can’t be more set apart than living at an address God personally designed for you and plopped you down in the middle of.

The whole purpose of the Promised Land, the Law, driving out the pagan nations and destroying them, depending on God to miraculously win wars and conquer the enemy, was for God to set apart a people for Himself. To raise up a nation that the rest of the world could look at and say, “Hey, those Israelite folks are different, and their God is different, too. What’s their one God got that our pantheon doesn’t?”.

Jesus reminded God’s people what it looked like to be different and set apart from the world. So did His disciples. And the New Testament is chock full of passages in which the apostles exhort Christians and the church to be holy and distinct from the world in heart, mind, and behavior.

Why? Because being different, and holy, and counter-cultural is weird, and counter-intuitive, and attention-grabbing to the world. And once we’ve got their attention, we’ve got an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

Yes, sister, God has called you to be a weirdo for Jesus.

And you’re going to have to fight the flesh to do it, because worldliness is insidious and subtle. Just like that sneaky, slimy serpent slithered in to paradise with no alarm bells ringing, we modern day Eves often don’t even notice worldliness has slipped in and tempted us to think and act in ways it has never even occurred to us aren’t godly. Sure, we don’t drink, and we don’t chew, and we don’t go with boys who do. And we don’t rob banks or murder people. But is that all there is to it? Avoiding the big, bad, behavioral no-no’s?

Before Eve ever extended her hand to pluck the fruit off the tree, Satan had already won several skirmishes with her heart. He had gotten her to doubt God’s character, disbelieve God’s word, and disregard God’s desires in favor of her own. And isn’t he still doing that with us today? Jesus warned us:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

As we look at these four ways worldliness can tiptoe into our actions unannounced and unnoticed, let’s also think about how our actions are merely the fruit of what’s going on in our hearts.

What are some of those sneaky snakes of worldliness, and how can we mortify those sins and respond in a godly way?

1.
Being quick to take offense

It’s getting to the point where you can hardly carry on a mundane, “Nice weather we’re having,” conversation any more without being accused of racism, gender bias, or having some sort of “privilege”. Even compliments and positive comments are likely to be twisted and heard by the easily offended as insults or condescension.

Think of the way Jesus endured and responded to the verbal abuse and false accusations intentionally and maliciously hurled at Him. Can you imagine Him freaking out at an innocent, offhand remark, someone’s tone of voice, or somebody unintentionally sticking her foot in her mouth?

Neither can I, yet this form of worldliness is probably my biggest area of weakness. It’s just the pride of life, pure and simple. (Well, not pure, I guess.) How dare anyone ruffle my feathers!

And how do I respond? Maybe the same way you do. I get my back up and strike back, fighting fire with fire. I rarely take a moment to step back and think that maybe this person didn’t intend for her tone to sound like that, or maybe to her that word means something different than what it means to me, or maybe she’s just PMS-ing today, or maybe I misheard or misinterpreted what she actually said. I don’t think, “How can I respond in godly love to this person?”. I don’t think at all. I just vomit my fleshly emotions all over her. Instead, I’m to respond in patience, kindness, and love, even if the situation calls for standing firm on Scripture without budging.

The Serpent Slayer:

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:16-18

2.
Being “Tolerant”

The world has been torturing this poor word “tolerant” for at least a few decades now. The definition has morphed from its actual meaning of “peacefully putting up with something that bothers you” to “embracing and celebrating any and every behavior and ideology (except biblical Christianity) as worthy and valid.” You’re not even allowed to think someone else’s worldview or behavior is wrong. You have to think it’s good or you’re a terrible person.

Now, of course, most Christians would not go around blatantly proclaiming that any old religion is just fine or that sexual immorality and perversion are perfectly acceptable or that abortion is a valid health care choice. But what about shying away from sharing the gospel with our Muslim neighbor for fear of appearing to be an Islamophobe? What about attending the homosexual “wedding” of a friend or loved one in order not to offend him and to maintain the relationship? What about failing to stand up for what’s right at work when unethical practices are the industry standard?

The Bible is very clear that following Christ and loyalty to His Word divides people. It divides family members from one another. It divides friends from one another, and it divides God’s people from those who claim to be God’s people and from the rest of the world. Jesus came to unite repentant sinners to God, not to unite unrepentant sinners to saved people. We must do what is right and biblical, refusing to participate in sinful and worldly activities, and lovingly, yet firmly, calling sinners to repentance and faith in Christ, even if it costs us family members, friends, our reputations, our churches, or our jobs.

The Serpent Slayer:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…Submit yourselves therefore to God. James 4:4,7a

3.
Being Flippant or Consumeristic about Church

The world has no reason to think going to church is important. Why would they? They’re lost. And if they do darken the door of a church, it’s not because they love Christ and want to worship Him, it’s ultimately for self-centered reasons. To assuage their guilt, to get Mom or the wife off their back, to feel better about themselves, to satisfy their curiosity.

Gathering to worship God is what genuinely regenerated Christians do. We have a God-given craving for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ and approaching His throne in prayer, praise, and the study of His Word together. Skipping church at the drop of a hat, shopping around for a church with all the slappy happy bells and whistles that make you comfortable, demanding that your church cater to your feelings, opinions, and preferences, strolling in with a “what’s in it for me” attitude? Uh uh. Those are worldly, self-centered attitudes, and might even indicate that you’re not saved.

Christians see faithfully attending and serving at church as vital to their relationship with Christ and other Christians. It’s not, “What’s in it for me?” but “How can I serve you?”. It’s not, “What did I get out of the worship service?” but “How can I wholeheartedly throw myself into the worship of Christ?”.

The Serpent Slayer:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

4.
Being Defiant

If ever there were a generation of Americans who treated defying authority as the national pastime, this is it. Have you seen all the videos of people pulled over by the police who refuse to comply with their every request, sometimes even turning violent? How about the way wives these days run their marriages and treat their husbands like children? And the way children are allowed to rebel at school and at home? What about the rioting in the streets we’ve seen over the last few years?

The more I study the New Testament, the more passages I find instructing Christians to submit to the authorities in our lives. I’m not sure if I’d call it a major theme of the New Testament, but it sure isn’t a minor one. We’re to submit to the government, governing officials, earthly “masters” (literally if we’re slaves, figuratively – bosses, supervisors, etc. – if we’re not), wives are to submit to our husbands, children are to submit to their parents, and church members are to submit to our pastors and elders. Every human institution.

God’s people are a submitting people. Submitting to the authorities in our lives paints a picture for the watching world that one day every knee will bow in submission to the ultimate authority – God. And because God is our ultimate authority, the only time we disobey the human authorities in our lives is when what they’re asking us to do would cause us to disobey or dishonor God. Otherwise, we humble ourselves and joyfully and graciously submit.

The Serpent Slayer:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. 1 Peter 2:13a

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

 

There are so many more ways Satan tempts Christians to act like the world. We put our faith in politicians to fix things rather than in God. We approach the world with a posture of entitlement and demand our rights instead of laying them down to serve others. We lash out in bitterness at those who have hurt us, holding grudges and cutting them out of our lives instead of forgiving as Christ has forgiven us. The list could go on and on.

But however worldliness manifests itself, it all has the same serpentine root in the heart: doubting God’s character, disbelieving God’s Word, and disregarding God’s desires. And when our hearts become ambivalent about God, and we push His desires and directives aside, the void that’s left has to be filled with something.

That “something” is the idol of self. I want to do what I want to do and I don’t want anybody standing in my way. This thing, or person, or idea makes me happy and comfortable, and keeping it is more important to me than what God says about it. That’s ultimately what’s going on in our hearts when we think, speak, and act in worldly ways.

out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks

Submit to the Scriptures. Be subject to the Savior. Slay the serpent of worldliness.


 

What are some other forms of worldliness that can sneak into our lives,
and what Scriptures can we use to combat them?

Christian women, Sanctification

Safe Spaces and Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves: 6 Ways to Follow Jesus’ Example of Handling Hurt

Political correctness.

Safe spaces.

Trigger warnings.

Microaggressions.

You can hardly say the sky is blue or water is wet these days without offending somebody. It shouldn’t be surprising to us that when self reigns on the throne of a person’s heart, she will bow down and serve the king of personal feelings. And as a loyal subject, she will fight to the death any perceived threat to that ruling authority. It is normal for unsaved people to live their lives with their feelings leading them around by the nose.

It is not normal for Christians to live that way. And it concerns me that I’m seeing more and more Christian women who allow themselves to be controlled by their feelings rather than being controlled by Christ.

(I’m about to step on some toes, here, so if you’re offended {maybe especially if you’re offended} by what follows, hang in there with me until we get past the hurt feelings and arrive at God’s Word, or you’re actually going to be proving my point.)

❤ Last May, the day before Mother’s Day, I was sort of mindlessly flipping through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, when something caught my notice. Tweet after tweet, status after status, article after article about Mother’s Day. But the vast majority of those posts were not honoring and encouraging women who are mothers, which is the whole point of Mother’s Day. They were focused on women for whom Mother’s Day is painful. Women who are infertile. Single women who haven’t had children. Women who have lost children in miscarriage or other tragedies. People whose mothers have died. Mothers whose children are estranged.

❤ As April Fool’s Day approached this year, I began noticing admonishments not to say, “I’m pregnant,” as an April Fool’s joke on social media in order to protect the feelings of women struggling with infertility or have miscarried.

❤ I have heard from dozens of women who refuse to obey God’s command to join with a doctrinally sound local church – even though they’re physically and logistically able to – because they have been hurt by a previous church.

❤ Christian women who follow false teachers commonly lash out in anger – often displaying the opposite of every one of the fruits of the Spirit – when presented with incontrovertible biblical evidence that the teacher is promoting false doctrine.

❤ And have you seen the fracas over racism in evangelicalism lately? Ungodly statements and accusations are flying from both sides of the aisle because, feelings: feelings of being owed something, fear of man feelings of not wanting to appear racist, feelings of retribution, feelings of pride and self-righteousness.

Life circumstances and other people genuinely and validly hurt us sometimes. No sane person would deny that, and certainly no Christian with a modicum of Christlike compassion would deny it. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the painful situations I mentioned above. Pain – deep, agonizing, and often undeserved pain – goes with the territory of being human. None of us are immune.

And, if you’re a Christian, you worship a Savior who more than understands what it’s like to be hurt – not just the physical torture of flogging and crucifixion, but the emotional pain during his life of being “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Jesus experienced far more misery than you or I ever will, and yet, He handled it in a way that brought honor and glory to God. As His disciples, we are called to follow His example when it comes to our own pain.

Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign

During His lifetime on earth, Jesus’ own brothers and sisters didn’t believe in Him. The leaders and members of His “church” abused, slandered, and falsely accused Him. His community eventually wanted Him dead.

Jesus could have allowed this grief to stay at the forefront of His heart and mind, governing His thoughts and reactions towards others and towards life in general. But He didn’t. He chose to deal with His pain in a godly way, refusing to allow it to control Him, paralyze Him, or deter Him from His mission, but putting it in its proper perspective. Pain is not paramount – holiness is. Jesus didn’t allow His pain to reign – He determined that His heart and mind would be led by holy thoughts and actions.

Jesus didn’t expect people to accommodate His feelings

Can you imagine Jesus demanding a safe space or that people refrain from posting certain things on social media in order to protect His feelings? Neither can I. It must have been monumentally difficult to endure the insults and mockery that constantly came His way, especially when He had the power (and the right) to shut those people up so He wouldn’t have to deal with all of that. Instead, Jesus accepted that hurtful people and circumstances are part of life and He proactively chose to respond to those people and circumstances in a godly way – setting an example for us in the process.

Jesus forgave

Not just one person, one time, or one situation. Seventy times seven. Even if the person didn’t ask for forgiveness. Even if the person innocently stuck his foot in his mouth. Not once do we see Jesus harboring bitterness in His heart or holding a grudge against someone who hurt Him personally, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Jesus forgave and moved on with His life and ministry.

Jesus was content

Sometimes, it’s not a person who hurts us, but the circumstances God has sovereignly brought or allowed into our lives. Did you catch that? Anything that’s going on in your life is only going on because God is permitting it or causing it. From infertility to medical conditions to racism to the consequences of sin, God is in charge of what happens to you, and He uses these painful situations to teach you obedience, cause you to depend on and trust in Him, and conform you to the image of Christ.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” Jesus said. Jesus was homeless, poor, unmarried, and childless, yet never once do we see Him complain about any of these circumstances. He accepted the station in life to which God had assigned Him and was content with His lot, making the most of His situation to the glory of God. We can follow Jesus in that godly mindset, realizing that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and that the Holy Spirit can empower us to find ways to be content no matter our situation.

Jesus didn’t retaliate or sin when His feelings were hurt

If our response to a hurtful person or situation is to take vengeance, lash out in anger, or wallow in self-pity, we aren’t acting the way Jesus did. He never retaliated against those who hurt him, failed to exercise self-control in responding to unkind people, or felt sorry for Himself as a result of his situation. Jesus always perfectly showcased the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Jesus focused on others, not Himself

Did Jesus stay home from the wedding at Cana because He couldn’t deal with the fact that someone else was getting married and He wasn’t? Was He overcome by hurt and jealousy when people brought their children to Him because He longed to experience the joys unique to fatherhood? No. He made sure the happy couple’s big day was even better by celebrating with them and giving them an awesome gift. He embraced and blessed other people’s children, pouring out His love upon them.

It is absolutely and inarguably incumbent upon us as compassionate, caring, kind, and merciful followers of Christ to weep with those who weep in the midst of suffering. We follow in Jesus’ footsteps by comforting others with the comfort He has shown us. We do our best to be sensitive to the hurts of others and not cause additional or unnecessary pain. We lift up the fallen and strengthen the knees that are weak, just like Jesus did.

But God also requires us to draw upon His strength, look past our own pain, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Just as it is good and right to comfort a friend who’s infertile or grieve with parents who have miscarried, it is also good and right for that friend and those parents to rejoice on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with those whom God has chosen to bless with children, or to celebrate with loved ones who have just announced a pregnancy. We take the focus off ourselves and put it on others, just like Jesus did.

 

Life hurts sometimes. And it’s OK to feel that pain. To grieve over loss. To mourn over suffering. But we cannot let those feelings be the boss of how we act and think. If we are to follow Christ, we must ask Him to help us follow His example of dealing with our raw and tender feelings: not expecting people to tiptoe around us, not allowing bitterness or unforgiveness to take over our hearts, not allowing our pain to reign and cause us to sin. We follow Christ’s example by taking up our cross daily, following Him, serving others, and living to the full the lives God has ordained for us. Whether it’s easy or it’s hard. Whether we’re joyful or sorrowful. Whether we feel like it or not.

Forgiveness, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Taking Offense

Originally published July 2, 2015

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Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Have you ever noticed how easily people get offended these days? We have to watch what we say, wear, and display. We have to be careful about how (or if) we express our political and religious views. A mere, “you look nice today” can be the beginning of a lawsuit.

Even as Christians, it’s easy to get sucked in to wearing our feelings on our sleeves and taking offense to everything that rubs us the wrong way. Certainly, there are important, biblical issues that we need to take a firm stand on in society, in the church, and at home, but for those of us who follow Christ, most personal offenses do not require a confrontation. Most personal offenses demand that we extend grace and love to the offender.

That’s a bitter pill for the flesh to swallow if you’re anything like me. My flesh wants revenge. My flesh wants justice and retribution to immediately prevail. My flesh wants that person to grovelingly admit he or she was wrong and beg for forgiveness. And I know it’s my carnal nature that wants those things because both Jesus’ teachings and His life stand in direct opposition to such desires:

The Pharisees insinuated that Jesus was of illegitimate birth and that his mother was promiscuous.  They called Him a Samaritan – a racial epithet which, in that time, would have been on par with calling someone the “n-word” during the Civil Rights movement. And they called him demon-possessed – which called his mental health and intelligence into question. And all of these insults carried with them the overriding weightiness of calling Him unclean; someone under God’s judgment who deserved to be an outcast.

What did Jesus do? He didn’t retaliate. He used the offensive remarks to keep on trying to reach the hearts of the Pharisees – the offenders – with the gospel.

Jesus taught us to…

…love our enemies

…do good to those who hate us

…bless those who curse us

…pray for people who abuse us

…turn the other cheek

…give to those who want to take from us

…treat others the way we want to be treated.

Even on the cross, after being falsely accused, verbally abused, wrongly arrested, hauled in front of a kangaroo court, and illegally put to death, Jesus’ words for His foes were not pronouncements of judgment and wrath, but, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That’s a pretty tough act to follow. But then, the calling of Christ is not a calling to “be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease” but a calling to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and give up our lives for Him. That precious calling may not end up with you being crucified for your faith, but surely it can start by ignoring that tiny arrow whizzing past your head as you love the person aiming the bow at you.

Take the offense. Overlook it. Extend grace. Forgive. Bless. Walk in the way of your Master.

 

What are some good ways to extend grace
when someone offends you?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.