So often we harbor anger and resentment towards people that have hurt us. We even dwell on the fact that they never even said “I’m sorry”. But sometimes we need to take time to reflect on the people we have hurt and take time to apologize to them. And lets not forget those “subtle hurts” that we may have forgotten about or tried to pretend never happened – the ex we constantly lied to, the parent we never obeyed, the friend we stabbed in the back, the co-worker we constantly gossip about, the neighbor we never speak to, the degrading tone in which we constantly talk to our children, the relative we have simply ignored/cut off for something they did 10 years ago, the person we borrowed money from and never paid back.
As people hurt us (and they inevitably will), let us remember the pain we feel in those instances. Then let us pray that if/when we hurt others, that we remember our own pain, and then reach out to those we hurt, apologize and make it right.
So often we try so hard to help others. Whether its by giving advice, writing a recommendation letter for a job, letting their kids carpool with yours to school, loaning them money in times of need, letting them sleep on your couch for a night or two, keeping them from literally beating the crap out of someone, taking them to AA meetings, making sure they have a ride to bible study, being an accountability partner to keep them out of trouble, or even bailing them out of jail – these are all great gestures and acts of love and kindness.
Sometimes these gestures are exactly what the recipient needs to keep them from making a bad choice, going off the deep end, ending up in prison or even committing suicide. But sadly, sometimes, these good gestures only yield temporary results that keep the recipient off the ledge for only a day or so. Then the next thing you know that same person does the exact opposite of what you advised them to do. They take your money, spend it on something completely different from what they said it was for and never pay you back. They start drinking again after 5 years of sobriety. They stop coming to bible study and church. They get fired after a week from the job you helped them get. They bash their neighbor’s head in and end up arrested.
Whatever the outcome may be, I am learning that in either scenario I am NOT God. My responsibility is to do what God has called me as a Christian to do – show love, in whatever way I can. So many years, especially in ministry, I used to try to “fix” so many people, solve their problems, answer their prayers, and patch up their lives. In short, I tried to be God. Although, He definitely uses us a vessels to accomplish His will and influence others’ lives, we have to remember that ultimately, He does the “fixing”, the “changing”, and the “problem-solving” in the world around us. We shouldn’t feel guilt, or pressure for that matter, to try and be God – not even for our family or closest friends.
I’ve even been guilty of changing my own personal goals and dreams just to allow myself to be a “savior” to others. God has recently taught me, that I should definitely help if and when I can, but that I should continue to walk in His plan for my own life in the process. The awesome thing about all this is that when we do “step aside” and allow God to work, time actually passes. Then you look back and see not only how God has worked in your own life but also in the life of the person you were originally trying to help. Its even more amazing when you realize that God works things out much better than anything you could have done.
As cliche, as it may sound – do what you can to help, pray, and then let go, and let God!
“Why do we let things like our nationality, political views, civil liberties, social status, and careers have more weight in defining who we are than our Christianity?”
Yes, I am black. Yes, I am a woman. In fact, I’m a well-educated successful young single mother! I am grateful for who I am and who God created me to be. I am also grateful for the many liberties He has blessed me to enjoy in this lifetime. But most of all, I am grateful that I belong to Him. My sex, race, background, education, or political standing should ALWAYS be secondary to who I am in Christ.
When we start promoting Jesus the way we should – in our words, thoughts and deeds – then all the other things will start to matter less and less. As the Bible teaches, the world we live in will never be perfect – free from racism, hatred, bitterness, segregation, or hypocrisy. In fact it will continue to get worse. However, God has called us to represent Him in the midst of an imperfect world. When we stop doing that and start putting more emphasis on representing and promoting our race, sex, political party of choice or other civil liberties, then we slowly start to lose our focus on our true purpose.