Proverbs 24:17 NLT
In life you’ll make foes as well as friends. It can’t be avoided; it just comes with the territory. The issue isn’t will you make enemies, the issue is how will you treat them? Our friends bring out the best in us, and oh, how our foes bring out the worst in us! But if you are a follower of Christ, there are three things you can’t do: resent, retaliate, or rejoice when your enemy seems to get their comeuppance. The Bible says: “Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out” (vv. 17-20 NLT). Don’t allow bitterness and resentment to destroy you. It’s better to take your medicine now than to agonize later. Never wish ill on your enemy… leave revenge to God. Revenge is God’s business, not ours. You may know what the person did to you, but God alone knows why they did it. Paul put the matter succinctly yet firmly when he said: “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to… God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17-19 NLT). Has someone hurt you? Forgive them!
Soul food: Josh 5:1-8:29; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 23:1-3
James 3:2 NIV
When we make a mistake, we can end up beating ourselves up about it for ages. We overthink it, worry about it, think we’ve failed and anticipate that we’ll just fail again. Once we’re in this mind-set, it’s dangerous. Our self-esteem evaporates and we can label ourselves as failures. But this isn’t our identity. It’s true that we’ll make mistakes. James wrote: ‘We all stumble in many ways’ and Solomon said: ‘There’s not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless’ (Ecclesiastes 7:20 MSG). We will fail. But we aren’t failures. It’s good to recognise where we’re going wrong so that we can try and avoid making the same mistakes again. But when we start living out of a place of guilt and shame, we’ve let God’s truth about who we are become drowned out. The truth is that we are loved by God and accepted by Him. He doesn’t see all our mistakes and condemn us. Instead, He sees the mistakes, forgives us and continues to love and accept us. The Bible says: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1 NIV). God isn’t condemning us, so we need to stop condemning ourselves. We are all a work in progress. In Philippians 1, it says: ‘God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns’ (v.6 NLT). God is working on us, and He’ll finish what He’s started. He’s not a harsh God who’s angry when we make mistakes. He’s gentle with us, so let’s be gentle with ourselves too.
2 Chr 16-18; Mark 6:30-44; Ps 119:113-120; Prov 22:1-3
Proverbs 14:12 NKJV
Ever noticed how zoo keepers handle an injured animal? Even though the keeper is only interested in helping, the animal doesn’t understand because it is focused solely on the pain. As a result, it strikes out at the very one who’s trying to help. Is that what’s happening in your life right now? Perhaps people who call themselves Christians have hurt you. You didn’t expect them to be the ones inflicting the pain. You may have been hurt to the extent that you no longer trust anybody – not even God. You haven’t actually said, “Lord, I don’t trust You,” but your actions speak louder than your words. You avoid reading His Word to find an answer. You won’t pray, or allow anyone to pray for you. You try to bury yourself in your job. You move from one relationship to another. You try alcohol or mood-altering chemicals. You spend hours watching television and surfing the Internet, and some of the things you’re watching violate your conscience and leave you feeling worse. What’s the answer? (1) Turn to God. Give Him “all your worries and cares…for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). Give Him your pain, your failures, your hang-ups, and your challenges. (2) Forgive the person who hurt you. Obsessing over what they did and trying to make them pay just keeps you chained to them. But forgiveness breaks the chain and sets you free. In your own strength you may be able to do something to alleviate your pain. But God can destroy the root of the pain and cause you to walk victoriously into the future.
Soul food: Eph 1:1-4:16; Mat 24:26-35; Ps 79; Prov 17:24-26
Colossians 3:14 CEV
If you’re the kind of person who harbours grudges and holds on to past mistakes, even your own, you know what it feels like to be weighed down by mental junk. It’s hard for a relationship to survive when neither party has processed what happened in the past. Like blame, mental junk keeps you stuck. For example, if an old beau has hurt you and you’ve never let go of it, every time your mate does something similar it’s likely you’ll react with unwarranted fervour, as if he or she was the original person who hurt you. When this happens, your mate is left feeling upset and confused by your over-the-top reaction to a minor infraction that on the surface appears insignificant. Just as you clean house to get rid of physical junk, you need to keep your mental, emotional, and spiritual house clean and in order. Praying, reading, counselling, journaling, meditation, and exercise are all good ways to help ensure that past issues don’t seep into your current relationships. And when they do come up from time to time, it’s best to talk to the people you’re in relationship with. Just be sure to do it in kindness, truth, and honesty. The old adage – “Love means never having to say ‘I’m sorry'” – is wrong! A more scriptural motto for keeping mental and emotional junk in the trash where it belongs, is: “Don’t go to bed angry” (Ephesians 4:26 GWT). The Bible says, “Be gentle, kind…meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love… ties everything completely together” (Colossians 3:12-14 CEV).
Soul food: 1 Sam 16-17; Mat 23:1-12; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 17:7-10
Colossians 3:14 CEV
We’ve probably all been in that place where we’ve let the past dictate our future. When someone hurts us we can hold a grudge. And when grudges build up, we carry all that hurt, pain, anger and bitterness around with us. That’s a pretty heavy load. A load that stops us from moving forward into all that God has in store for us. And a load that can damage other relationships. When we’ve been hurt, we may expect it to happen again. When we’ve been let down, we may find it hard to trust someone else. And when we are tied down with bitterness and resentment, we may find it hard to experience the joy of cultivating relationships with others. God doesn’t want us to be holding on to grudges. The Bible says: ‘Don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry’ (Ephesians 4:26 MSG). Every year, lots of people decide to do a spring clean of their house. They get rid of things they no longer need, they tidy up all the mess and clean the parts that have collected dust. We need to do the same thing in our lives. We need to keep our mental, emotional, and spiritual house clean and in order. God wants us to let Him into those places in our lives where we’re hurting and where we’ve allowed dust to collect. He wants to replace those dark, hurting places with His love, comfort and joy. The Bible says, ‘Be gentle, kind…meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love… ties everything completely together’ (Colossians 3:12-14 CEV). Let’s clean out the grudges, anger and bitterness and replace them with love, forgiveness and gentleness.
1 Sam 16-17; Mat 23:1-12; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 17:7-10