Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

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Love your enemies, part 3

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 2

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

In yesterday’s blog, I asked this question: if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

When you or someone you love has a serious prayer need in your life don’t you desire compassion and aren’t you seeking for people to pray for you?  Most of us are.

Now, say that the wrathful person you envisioned in this verse has a prayer need.  Are you going to take time to pray for them?  If someone who has previously injured you in some way now needs prayer, will you pray for them?

What was it that Jesus told us in Mt. 5:44-45?  Get ready for it…

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Jesus said we should love our enemies.  Not only that, but we should bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us.  Also, we should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.  Why?  So we may be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.  He makes us all, loves us all, and according to John 3:16, died for us all.

I have a testimony not meant for a blog, but the Lord once asked me to pray for someone who had seriously injured me.  It seemed like an unreasonable request, considering the pain this person had caused me, and although I initially argued with God (in the pew at church), I eventually gave in.  Once I did, I was lifted of a burden in a way I never could have imagined.

The Lord freed ME of anger…freed ME of unforgiveness…freed ME of pain and bitterness.  I am much more equipped to forgive now than I was before, and I am so thankful for the freedom the Lord gave me when I trusted Him enough to do as He commanded. 

We cannot control what the people around us do.  All we can control is what we choose to do.  We can choose to trust the Lord enough to follow His Word and do as He commanded.

Just like He showed me…there are great rewards in store when we do!

Give it a shot!

jamie

Love your Enemies, part 3

Love your Enemies, part 4

 

 

The flowing brook

Pr. 18:4:  “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.”

We are not born wise.  Just this morning, as my children began their day and sat down for breakfast and a Saturday morning TV show, my daughter was rude to my son 3 times in about 3 minutes.  Him making a noise was the reason she couldn’t count.  His coughing, with his mouth covered, meant he was coughing on her.  Her putting her finger in his face was just a joke.  Apparently this is the day when she is entitled and everything he does is absolutely wrong.

I had to remind her that her attitude was showing that her heart was not housing kindness or love, and invited her to pray about it and stop, or go back to bed.  She is still sitting at the table with us, so I am hoping that means that wisdom is taking over.  Time will tell.

There were a few verses in Pr. 18 that would have been appropriate with this situation, but I like this one best.  I like the positive note of this particular verse.

It is true that the words of our mouths come from deep places.  The deep, secret places of our hearts contain what we truly feel and believe.  Out of those places, flow the words we speak.  It is clear that deep in my daughter’s heart right now there are places of pride, selfishness, bitterness, and dishonesty.  Now, not to pick on my baby girl (who just yesterday offered to buy the same brother a new Batman sword as he cried over the pieces of the one he had just broken) the same could probably be said of any of us.  We are all imperfect in our flesh.  We live in a fallen, sin-cursed world and will not be perfect until the Lord makes all things new.

What is encouraging to me is that with time, experience, study, prayer, and teaching, we can become people whose hearts are filled with more and more of God.  As we read the Beatitudes over and over, we are reminded that the peacemakers, the merciful, the meek, and the pure are blessed.  Spending years of our lives in submission to God reminds us that He is ultimately in control and will fulfill our every need.  Filling our hearts with His love, His wisdom, His percepts, and His promises cleanses the deep places and purifies the waters.

As our hearts become more full of God and less full of ourselves, His wisdom can take over and the brook that will flow from our mouths will indeed be a wellspring of the wisdom deep inside.  If you’re not perfect today, take heart, each moment that you spend with God purifies you deep inside.  The wellspring within you grows purer and holds more Living Water.  Until we are made new, we will never be perfect, but God can use us now to be a wellspring for those around us.

Cheers!

jamie