When doing right doesn’t always feel right

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11 NIV84

I was recently asked if my lack of retaliation when insulted was a strength or a weakness.  In my pride I was deeply insulted that they might feel I was a coward letting others intimidate me.  I wanted them to know it was my love for Jesus that motivated my absorption of evil.  I verbalized to them that God in the Bible in Proverbs talks about wisdom overlooking an offense (I couldn’t remember the verse exactly).  They cut me off by quickly saying, “it’s a strength” and left.

 People who don’t know Jesus don’t understand us, His followers.  They wonder how can someone be kind to someone who has just said to them, “I don’t like you, I don’t want you to help me, I want someone else.”  Returning kindness when someone hurts you makes no sense.  Unless, you have an allegiance to something higher than your own ego.

 When I’m insulted I hurt.  And the times I return kindness I don’t feel full of love at that moment.  Many times I am dealing with the feelings of wanting retaliation as I am trying to express understanding to my attacker.  Is this hypocrisy?  Because my feelings don’t match up with my actions of love, satan tells me I am a hypocrite.  He does this in hopes that I become confused and stop revealing the reality of Jesus to someone who desperately needs Him.  However, the Truth is conflicting feelings do not negate the sincerity of righteous action.  Feelings don’t think.  They respond.  Feelings follow footsteps.  And when I am loving my enemy I may still be responding to the hurt he has caused me.  As I continue to love my attacker, my feelings may catch up to my actions and I may eventually feel love for my enemy.  Or, I may not.  Either way I continue to act in the best interest of my attacker.

Because that’s what Jesus did for me when I was His attacker.

The Dominant Servant

I have precious little dominance.  I scored almost zero in dominance on a personality test.  I hate directing people.  I don’t see the big picture.  I am better one-on-one, listening, empathizing, and encouraging.

One of the things I hate to see is someone with high dominance using their God-given strength to serve themselves.  They can be pushy, rude, scheming, intimidating and more; with a trail of hurt people in their wake (and those hurt by them include themselves).

One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen is a person with a dominate personality with a servant’s heart.  They don’t try to dominate you, they try to serve you.  They use their personality to easily do the things I can’t do.  They see the big picture.  They anticipate problems and work on solutions while options are available.  They warn you of the problems that are coming.  They include others in decision-making.  They know the strengths of the people they work with and strategically suggest the best way to use those strengths.  Though they are essential they realize they are an equal member of the team, and deserve no more credit than those with other personalities and contributions who are just as essential.

Those who are greatest in God’s kingdom of love are servant’s of all.  And we can all be the greatest, because we can all serve one another.  God has given us different but equally valuable personality strengths. And when persons with dominant personalities use their strength to serve others, all the personality strengths are orchestrated for the benefit of everyone; to the glory of the God who designed us to complement, serve and love each other.

Things I need to learn: Always Planning Good?

Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.  Proverbs 14:22 
When I read this verse I think: I don’t “plot evil.”  That’s for James Bond movies’ villains.  But what about when someone is very rude to me without reason?  And I, consciously or unconsciously, decide I’m going to let them suffer the fruits of their own deeds. Instead of warning them of a problem they unknowingly are going to have, because they hurt me, I’m going to let them fall into it and suffer.
When I do that, (and I’ve done that or similar things more times than can be counted), I “plot evil.”  Whether I am aware of it or not, when I plot evil my thinking is changed and I start “going astray.” I naturally start making decisions that will take me where I may not realize I do not want to go.  I hurt more and more people and myself until I destroy myself.
What is the cure?  If I “plan what is good” (and apologies may be the first thing I need to plan), my mind is changed and my thinking is corrected. I find “love and faithfulness”…
I find Jesus.

God doesn’t kill to advance His cause, He died

The “religious” leaders in Jesus’ day used intimidation and murder to keep and/or advance their power over others.  Claiming to be defending their “God” they could not have been any more against the one true God, Jesus (the very one who loves them and died for their sins).  Jesus said this would happen.  Jesus said that the day will come when anyone killing you (followers of Jesus) will think he is doing God a service.

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”  John 16:1-4 NKJV

 Killing in the name of “God” has been going on for millenia.  Jesus, who had all the power in the universe, did not kill to advance His cause of love, His kingdom.  He died, and more than that, He rose again, to advance His cause of love.  And His cause is to love His Father, and love people; all people.

You may be wondering if you matter; if you make any difference being alive in this world.  YOU MATTER TO GOD!  It has been said, God would rather die than live in eternity without you; and He did, in the person of Jesus Christ.  Now it is your turn to decide if you want to live with Jesus for eternity.

This is His character:

But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:  

 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.  In his name the nations will put their hope.  “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

I love the fact that “a bruised reed he will not break.” And “a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”  I have failed at my own and others’ expectations, done evil, been hurt by others and have been a “bruised reed.”  I have lost hope, wanted to die, wondered where God was, and if anyone cared. I have been  a “smoldering wick.” How about you?  Jesus heals the sick, he doesn’t kill them.  He binds up the broken hearted, he doesn’t crush them.  He will take care of you and me!  He loves us!

And what else is His character?

If you will seek first His Kingdom (Jesus as Lord, that is, obedience) and His Righteousness (Jesus as Savior, that is, trust what He has done to please God for you) then God promises to supply all your needs.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34 NIV84

And,

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV84

Christ is still “dying” because of His love for people, in the form of His followers being murdered because they love people and love the Truth.  Jesus said that anyone who follows Him will never die.

  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”  John 11:23-27 NIV84

All the people of the world may hate us.  But there is One Who always loves us and is greater than the world: Jesus.  And He said,

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  

“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.  In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”  Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.  Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”  “You believe at last!” Jesus answered.  “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If you want to know Jesus, He is waiting to hear from you right now.  He has always loved you.  Because He loves you He wants you to turn away from the things that you are doing and thinking that hurt God, hurt others and hurt you.  God calls these: sins.  I have sinned, and you have sinned, and that’s why Jesus had to die; to take away our sins.  If you agree with God that you have sinned and resolve to turn away from them, trust Jesus’ death to pay your sin debt to God, and surrender to the leading of Jesus through the Holy Spirit who will live in you, God will make you His child.  Go ahead, talk to Him, He can’t wait to listen to you, to love you, and to make you His child.

Buyer Beware!

“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.  Proverbs 20:14 NIV84

This was me for most of my life.  I would try and get things for less than they were worth and then tell my friends what a great deal I got.  But if Jesus says that we are to treat others (the seller) just as I would want to be treated (if I was the seller) then I need to look again at this Proverb.

If the buyer is boasting about his purchase I assume he felt it was a quality item… Who boasts about buying junk?  If that is true he lied to the buyer when he said it was “no good.”  Why would he do that?  If he did lie it may have been to get the item at a price less than the buyer thought it was worth.  To me that’s stealing.

So, if my assumptions are correct this one short sentence condemns the buyer for being a braggart, a liar and a thief.

Since coming to this realization I have been slowly changing.  I’ve been thinking about the seller’s position when I buy something, and not just my own.  If I am following (obeying) Jesus I believe God will give me all the money I need to fulfill his mission for my life. I’m not going to withhold what someone else deserves because I am afraid of running out of money (scarcity mentality). I will bless them by giving to them freely just as Jesus gives to me freely.  I will see buying something as an opportunity to love the seller and treat them as someone dearly loved by the God Who died for them.

Yet changing is difficult and I have a long way to go.

What do you think about this?  Is the seller worth showing the love of Jesus to?  Will Jesus keep you supplied with the money you need if you are doing what he says?  Do we serve the Almighty God? Or the almighty dollar?

How do I find my way to peace with God?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalms 119:105 NIV84

God’s Word – the Bible – shows us the way to go, the obstacles, and how to overcome the obstacles.

The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.  Proverbs 20:27 NIV84

His Word – the Lamp of the LORD – also shows us what is within us…

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:22-25 NIV84

…and how to overcome what is within us.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. Jesus quoted in John 6:63a NIV84

  We are born with dead spirits… dead toward God.

The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.  Jesus quoted in John 6:63b NIV84

Jesus replaces our dead spirits with spirits that are living… alive toward God!

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”     John 6:28-29

Jesus said that we will be born again with new spirits from God, not when we do good works to earn God’s approval, but rather when we repent or turn away from our sins and trust Jesus to have paid for our sins in full when he died on the cross for us.  

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Jesus quoted in Matthew 12:33 NIV84

The fruit of our lives, after being born again, proves if we have been born again by God, or not.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. I John 3:16 NIV84

Love, the good fruit Jesus is looking for, is following Jesus’ example of giving up what I want for what God wants.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:17-18 NIV84

The practical working out of loving  – the laying down our life for our brother or sister – is not just to talk about love but to actually meet the needs of those who are powerless to meet their needs themselves.

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence…  I John 3:19 NIV84

And when we actually love in this way we are assured we belong to Jesus, and that we are right with God His Father.

If you want revenge… please read this first

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.   Proverbs 20:22 NIV84

Satan wants you to take revenge.  Satan incited the other person to wrong you in the first place and now he is inciting you to retaliate.  They think they’re right, you think you’re right. And the cycle of retaliation never ends.  Satan’s plan is for you two to destroy each other.  Jesus wants to deliver you both from this trap.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
    For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.   Romans 12:7-21 NKJV

This is illogical and foolishness from a strictly human perspective.  But God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than my ways.  So how do you do it?  It is not necessarily going to feel good, feel natural or be easy to follow God.  Satan will barrage you with “logical” reasons at every turn to stop this foolishness before everybody thinks your nuts.  Your spouse, your best friend, your family, all may not understand.  But if you follow God, He will free you from the trap of revenge, fill you with His love and fill you with the joy of following Him.  And He will start you on an adventure with Him that will never end.

Oh, and the reference to “coals of fire on your enemies head” may mean that your unexpected good will gives your “enemy” no ability to believe satan’s lie that you are unjustly against him.  And without that lie your “enemy” must face his own motives and experience the shame of his own actions.  At this point he can convert and become your friend which then frees him also from satan’s trap, or he can reject your love for no reason (and experience never ending evil for returning evil for good (see Proverb 17:13)).

God’s goal is that everyone loves. Satan’s goal is that everyone is destroyed.

What is your goal?