We've had a guest speaker at my church the last few weeks, doing a series of messages he's given at his own church in the past. This man is Pastor Craig Groeshel, the messages are based on his book: Altar Ego. The most recent message pretty much slapped me across the face. The whole thing was about giving up our "right" to be offended. I don't know about you, but I get offended about a lot of things. I'm offended when someone leaves their shoes in the middle of the floor for me to trip on, uses a clean cloth to wipe up a dirty spill, accuses me of something I didn't do...but probably my biggest source of irritation is when somebody treats me like I am beneath them or less intelligent than them.
Let me give you a little background—growing up I didn't really see myself as having many good qualities. I was kind-of a weird kid, didn't have many friends, wasn't the best at anything. In my mind, the one thing I had going for me was this: I was smart. The things people said to me confirmed this fact in my mind, as did the awards I won at quizzing competitions, my grades, standardized tests, etc. My quick wit and sharp mind were my one claim to fame. Growing up and going to college, then on to full time work has helped me realize that I am, perhaps, not the brightest bulb in the world. But hey, I still have some pride when it comes to my ability to quickly learn almost anything I'm taught. So, because of this slight superiority complex I developed as a child, it really grinds my gears when people treat me as an inferior.
Enter "that guy." The one that constantly talks down to me, pretends I haven't got the faintest clue what I'm doing, lets me know through his words and actions that he essentially thinks I'm an idiot. Queue Jaci the raging jerkwad that needs to look in to anger management classes.
Welcome to my life as of recently.
And from stage left, Pastor Craig Groeshel waltzes in with his sermon. Helllllllloooooooo conviction. Am I really that important in this world that everyone should treat me like a princess? Yeah, not so much. Granted, the way this guy treats people is HORRIBLE. But. It's not my place to tell him how to behave. It IS my place to be humble, patient, loving toward those around me (Ephesians 4:2). I don't know what's going on in his life. He may have scars of the past, pain of the present, apprehension of the future—leaving him crippled every night in fear. I should give him the benefit of the doubt. As Pastor Groeshel said, "I should have thick skin and a soft heart, too often we have thin skin and a hard heart." I should have compassion for this guy. I should pray for him, and whatever has happened/is happening in his life to make him act like this. And even more difficult, I need to forgive him. Without him asking for it. On my own. As a human, I have done so many things to hurt the people I've come in contact with. Most of all, I've done so many things to hurt God. I do so many things that hurt Him EVERY DAY. He forgave me for everything, how much easier it should be for me to forgive this man that has done something so small in comparison (Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:32). "Forgiven people forgive people, because it's not about us, it's about Him." -Groeshel.
I need to get off of my high horse, quit thinking of myself as superior (Romans 12:3) and let Christ's love shine through me.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Every time I read Romans 5:3-5 I’m struck. By the word HOPE. “…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame…” No matter what we’re going through, how hard times can get—we have hope. Everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply to develop you as the person God wants you to be. Every heartache, sorrow, fear builds your personality and demeanor. How you face these challenges in life shows your courage, endurance. God is seeking brave souls to fight His battle in this world, take on hardships as a way to develop your battle skills.
We know that in spite of everything, there is hope. Hope for a future, hope for life (Jeremiah 29:11). Everything in our lives should be straining toward that hope. At the forefront of our minds should be the desire to share that hope. Our world is a lost and lonely place, all humans (whether they admit it or not) are seeking happiness. And the only way to true happiness is through the hope we’ve found in Christ. Without it, we would be wandering aimlessly through life pointed toward a meaningless future. Without Jesus, life has no purpose, it is a journey filled with misery to an empty final destination. The world around us is filled with people wandering through the dark, searching for something they can’t see. Help them find the light—give them HOPE.