It seems as if sjmom and I have been tag teaming lately as the things on our hearts are pretty similar these days. If you missed her heart bits earlier last week, you ought to read it as it has a little to do with what’s on my heart for this week’s devotional.
It’s no secret thing that one of the biggest causes of division in our country these days is because of hate- and hate is really unchecked bitterness caused by anger and selfishness.
I’m not even going to go into the different issues that has everyone in a hate mood because everything from politics, social justice causes, mass murders, bending a knee during our national anthem- those are just outward symptoms of the deeper illness which at different levels is in everyone’s heart.
The definition of bitterness is anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly and/or resentment.
That seems to describe a large portion of people these days. And as mom asked in her article, when people feel like they are righteous in their anger, how will they know they need to repent? How will we when we believe we’re in the right?
We all, even strong Christians have to guard our hearts against bitterness, but it’s not always easy to guard ourselves against the little and big constant pricks against us when it comes to fairness, tolerance and spite which the left is so quick to accuse everyone else of not being.
I know we’re not meant to be doormats, but at the same time, Jesus’ wasn’t just talking to hear His own voice when he told us to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. And even especially when political ‘enemies’ who once were our friends- do we not need to let go of our anger for them too? Even if they keep on criticizing the rest of us?
Listen sweet family as I also speak to myself- undeserved love, turning away wrath while giving our other cheek to those who would rather blame, accuse and malign us is called… Grace.
Jesus has shown me more grace than I can describe, every. single. day. And knowing that I don’t deserve it digs deep in my heart, especially when I realize my own anger keeps me at odds and from showing the same grace to others in spite of it.
There’s an old saying you can catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. It’s meaning is pretty clear considering that you are more likely to persuade people if your arguments are polite rather than confrontational.
Confrontation, angry shouting matches and protests have and will never get us anywhere to healing the divisions which have been created in our country.
While Christians who choose to use polite arguments are sometimes seen as being timid by those who choose to be more aggressive, loud and sarcastic, people will not only hear better, but see the message of Christ’s love if we consciously change our attitudes to where we ‘gentrify’ our message in the face of those accusing us.
When we aggressively argue, others immediately become alert and get ready to either fight or take flight. Whether justified or not, that is their initial instinctive reaction. It’s that way with all of us. When people feel they are being attacked, even verbally, most people will tune out and turn off what is being said to them.
When it comes to sharing the gospel even, many of us do the same. When the message is being mocked or ignored we tend to get angry, yet an old friend and pastor friend told me once, we are to share the Gospel with people, not cram it down their throats. The same could go for anything whether it be our faith or politics and social issues.
When we verbally attack non-Christians and even fellow Christians we are showing them who we are, not Who Christ is.
When we call ourselves “Christians” we are showing ourselves as representatives of Jesus. Jesus showed us how to handle mocking, persecution, hate, bitterness, even from among His friends and disciples- by His grace.
If we mean to help change hearts, we have to show the same no matter how hard and uncomfortable it is.
I hope everyone has a blessed and safe week.