Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This is For Your Own Good

Have you ever heard or said the following: "I think ending this relationship is what would be best for you."?

Or, any other variation of "I'm doing this for your own good."?

As humans, we like to believe we know what is best for another person. But the truth is, when we say that phrase - or any combination of it - 9 times out of 10 we're actually doing what we believe is best for ourselves. We project our own fears, insecurities, anger, etc onto someone we love.

We are actually ending a relationship because we don't care about them anymore, or we've found someone else, or we're scared that they are going to end the relationship in the future, that we'll drive the other person away.

Or, as a parent, we may use that phrase when we're spanking a child, but what we really mean is "I'm angry with you and need to get that anger out." It's a selfish desire to try to force a child to become what we want them to be.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:
Give up projecting your own feelings onto someone else under the guise of doing something for someone else.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing something for another person. There is nothing wrong with temporarily sacrificing something for another person (i.e. giving up a few hours of partying so you can be there to comfort a friend). But you cannot make the decision of what is best for another person. You walking out of someone's life is not truly doing what is best for them - unless they say it is best for them.

Even God does not do this. Yes, he guides us through his Word as to what is best for us. He truly does know what is best for us. But he doesn't leave us. He doesn't walk away. He doesn't cause us physical harm.

When you find yourself in a situation where you feel you should do something (because it's best for someone else)... stop. Pray. Examine your own heart. Why are you really considering this decision? Ask God for help in guiding you to the correct decision.

May the wisdom of the Spirit be with you always, guiding your heart in making decisions which are healthy and godly and loving.

Monday, March 20, 2017

They Were Just Comments

Once upon a time an old man spread rumors that his neighbor was a thief. As a result, the young man was arrested. Days later the young man was proven innocent. After been released he sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.
In court the old man told the Judge: 'They were just comments, didn't harm anyone..'
The judge, before passing sentence on the case, told the old man: 'Write all the things you said about him on a piece of paper. Cut them up and on the way home, throw the pieces of paper out. Tomorrow, come back to hear the sentence.'
The next day, the judge told the old man: 'Before receiving the sentence, you will have to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out yesterday.' The old man said: 'I can't do that! The wind spread them and I won't know where to find them.'
The judge then replied: 'The same way, simple comments may destroy the honor of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. If you can't speak well of someone, rather don't say anything. 'Let's all be masters of our mouths, so that we won't be slaves of our words.'

 I have read the above story a few times... it's quoted on various websites... but have never seen an author associated with it. So, I do apologize for not giving credit.

I really love that story though. It is so true. Gossip is something most of us do, often unintentionally. We see something or hear something or believe something to be true, and feel the need to tell another person. But we don't see the danger in what we're doing. It's only comments. How bad can that be?

And yet throughout scripture, we are told time and again that it is bad. God tells us repeatedly in his Word to avoid gossip and slander. These are sinful behaviors. And as most of us have experienced in our own lives, they are harmful. They ruin reputations, cause pain, and ruin relationships.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Give up spreading rumors. Give up listening to rumors.

The only time you should be talking about another person is in a way that will build up that person. Let's all work harder at spreading love rather than spreading rumors.

May the God of all truth guard our tongues this day and always.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I'll Do That! And That! And That! And...

Okay, so yes... I realize the above image is one of those "oh poor me... I keep giving but everyone still hurts me" memes. And yes, I realize my last post was about how we're supposed to give to others and not just focus on "me".

But, there is truth to the meme. Some people do tend to help too much. Every time someone calls in need of a friend, you're there for them. Every time someone asks for a volunteer, you're raising your hand. We don't like to disappoint people. We especially don't want to disappoint a friend... or our coworkers... or our church... or anyone.

And it is definitely not a bad thing to be there for others. It is definitely not a bad thing to volunteer. This is, after all, what God wants from us - to be there for our neighbors.

But, just as excessive me-time can be damaging, so can excessive helping.Especially if that helping is either a) for a selfish sense of pride, or b) is taking away time from God or helping your own needs.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Stop feeling you always have to help others

Helping others is truly a wonderful thing. But we all need time to renew our own energy. We need to take some personal time with God. We need quiet prayer, and quiet time, so we can continue to have the strength needed to be there for others. Without that time, we grow weak. We tend to fall into sin easier. We tend to break down easier. We tend to not be able to give our best to those who need us.

Skip the giving every now and then. Be willing to say "no". And always take God-time to keep the strength and courage that is needed to be his vessel.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Me Me Me Me Me!

Me time.

The phrase many people (especially parents) love to hear... and almost have a heart-attack when they get to experience it.

Me-time is a very important thing. It is a chance to relax and renew your energy so you can face another day. It's very healthy...

Until it's not.

I can't say how much me-time is healthy... for some it's an hour a day, for others it's a Saturday afternoon. If I had to give an amount, I'd suggest at least an average of an hour a day (which may mean just one 7 hour stretch one day during the week). But, everyone is different. And every day is different. There are some days I don't need me time. There are other days when I just want to lock myself in my room for 4 hours.

But, me-time can be problematic. It can be detrimental.

Are you skipping hanging out with friends to be alone? Are you skipping out on opportunities to make connections with people? Are you missing out on opportunities to do God's work in being there for others and showing love to them? Are you skipping worship? Are you avoiding relationships, even with your spouse/children/parents/friends?

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Let go of excessive me-time.

Me-time is supposed to be something to renew one's own energy so they can be there for others doing God's will. It's intended to be healing.

It is all too easy to turn that time into something selfish - into a way to avoid people and responsibilities. This isn't what God wants from us. He understands we need that time alone... but then we are meant to go out and spread his unending love to others. We're meant to worship and spend time with him. We're meant to be with God and with others... not hiding in our rooms.

May God grant us all the ability to have me-time... the strength to use that time wisely... and the courage to leave that time so we can do his will.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Poisoning Me... To Hurt You?

"I can't believe you did that to me 10 years ago!"
"I hate that person... she was such a witch when we were kids!"

I could probably come up with 100 more comments such as the above of things I've either said or heard. Someone hurts us deeply, and we just don't want to let go of that resentment.

God doesn't want us resenting others. We're told repeatedly to forgive. We're told to pray for those who've hurt us. We're told to let go of bitterness and resentment.

Holding onto that resentment keeps us from being able to truly love one another as God wants us to love. It keeps us from being able to truly love God. It harms more marriages than probably anything else. It harms more friendships and other relationships.

And it harms us. The quote above is very true - "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Resentment hurts us individually - not the person who hurt us.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Let go of resentment.

Find a way to forgive. Forgiving another person doesn't mean you're condoning what they did. It doesn't even need to mean you're reconciled with that person. It means that you aren't going to let the pain they caused live in your heart anymore. It means you are going to make more room in your heart for love by getting rid of the negative feelings. It's freeing.

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