Luke 6:23 TM
When you’ve been treated badly, always ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience? How do I respond in a more Christlike manner? Am I willing to acknowledge my mistakes? How can I grow wiser and handle similar experiences better in the future?” When all is said and done, the answer to misunderstanding is forgiveness. Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with or want a close relationship with the person who mistreated you. But it does mean that you let it go. When you bury the hatchet, don’t leave the handle sticking up! In other words, don’t just forgive – choose to forget! Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” And here’s an even better statement: “To be greater is to forgive the one who has treated you badly.” Paul refers to the Christian life as “the high calling of God” (Philippians 3:14). So take the high road! What does that road look like? Jesus tells us: “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is…the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable…be glad when that happens…all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my…witnesses have always been treated like this” (vv. 22-23 TM). By living this way, you also take back your power by refusing to let another person dictate your mood and your outlook, and you keep your joy.
Soul food: Rev 10-14; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 4; Pro 12:25
1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV
The Bible says: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV). We shouldn’t limit ‘spiritual things’ to prayer, Bible reading, and church activities. God’s promise to reveal things to us in the Spirit applies to every area of our lives including our family, our finances, and our career. The Bible says, ‘We have the mind of Christ.’ That means when we face a problem, we can pray, ‘Lord, help me to see this the way You do.’ When we need to make an important decision we can pray, ‘Lord, reveal to me what I don’t know and teach me what I need to learn so that my decision is in line with Your will and what’s best for everyone concerned.’ Instead of restricting God to church and ‘spiritual activities’, we can ask for His help in every area of our lives. We can often think that we should be constantly on the move, constantly working, constantly doing something, and underestimate the importance of simply being still for a while. Psalm 46:10 says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (NKJV). That means we must be still long enough for Him to put His thoughts into our mind. And when that happens – and it will – we’ll never want to think any other way. The Bible says: ‘If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death. But if their thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace’ (Romans 8:6 NCV). So let’s be people who let the Spirit guide our thinking.
Num 8-10; Mark 2:1-17; Ps 35; Prov 10:28-29
James 1:8 NKJV
If you’re afraid to make a decision in case it’s wrong, read this Scripture: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (vv. 5-8 NKJV). President Reagan enjoyed telling the story of how he learned to make firm decisions. When he was a boy, his aunt sent him to a cobbler to have a new pair of shoes made for him. When the shoemaker asked, “Do you want a square toe or a round one?” he hemmed and hawed, so the cobbler said, “Come back in a day or two and tell me what you want.” Later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked what he had decided about the shoes. “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he answered. “Very well,” the cobbler said, “your shoes will be ready tomorrow.” When Reagan got the shoes, one had a round toe and the other a square toe! Reagan said, “Looking at those shoes every day taught me a lesson. If you don’t make your own decisions, somebody else will make them for you.” Worst case: If you get it wrong, you’ll learn what not to do next time. Bottom line: To succeed in life you must pray for wisdom, and then make a decision.
Soul food: Eze 47:1-12; Rev 21:22-22:5
Psalm 55:22 NIV
Sometimes the best thing to do is – turn the situation over to God. “Yes, but what about all those go-getters who rise with the sun, skip breakfast, and break records while I’m just ‘giving it to God’?” you ask. Good question. Look at Jesus; He didn’t get started until He was thirty. What about all those “wasted” years? He left them to God. And how did He react to those who heard His message, shrugged, and walked away? He left them to God. And what about those nitpicking Pharisees who gave Him so much grief? He left them to God as well. In The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll describes a time in his ministry when he felt driven and drained by never-ending demands. He writes: “If folks weren’t changing, I felt responsible. If some drifted, somehow I was at fault. If there wasn’t continual growth, I acted as if I needed to make it happen. If a sermon failed to ring with clarity and power, I struggled all of Monday and half of Tuesday. Talk about wasted energy! Time has helped; so has age. Virtually all of the things that once stole my joy and assaulted my motivation – I just leave to God. Don’t I care? Of course I care. But those cares are now placed in the hands of One who can handle them. What once bothered me, I’ve learned to give over to Him who doesn’t mind being bothered. Whereas criticism used to cripple me for days, I now do my best to sift, shift, and sail. I learn what I can – and turn the rest over to God.”
Soul food: Isa 45-48; Luke 3:1-10; Ps 79; Prov 2:9-10
Genesis 37:5 NKJV
The story of Joseph teaches that success can cause others to mistreat you. Not everyone will celebrate your success, including some of those closest to you. When Jesus’ fame began to spread, the first people to reject Him were from the town He grew up in. It caused Him to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (Matthew 13:57 NKJV). The Bible says of Joseph, “His brothers envied him” (Genesis 37:11 NKJV). There it is – envy! When God blesses you, those who feel left out may target you. Some may feel more worthy and deserving, and that your blessing came at their expense. That’s how Cain felt when he murdered his brother Abel. That’s how King Saul felt when David killed Goliath and the people sang, “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 29:5 GNT). Shortly afterwards Saul started throwing spears at David. And the spear never left his hand until it plunged into his own heart. That’s because envy is like a boomerang; it comes back to hurt the one who throws it. When their father threw a party to celebrate the homecoming of his prodigal son, the older brother said, “These many years I have served you…yet you never gave me a…feast” (See Luke 15:29 AMPC). He made three mistakes we often make: (a) He compared himself to his brother. (b) He exposed his brother’s sins and shortcomings. (c) He failed to appreciate the extent of his father’s love for him and the blessings he had bestowed on him. So learn from his mistakes.
Soul food: Isa 4-7; Luke 1:11-25; Ps 90:7-17; Prov 1:5-9