Thanks for joining me today for our Coffee Hour and more of the Seven Sacrifices to Joy. I hope you brought your red Strand of Faith so we can tie some knots in it together! Let’s get back to a Sacrifice of Righteousness because there are so many things that count!
We left off with a thought-provoking teaching by Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:39 wherein He teaches us to resist evil. Oh, how freeing that can be. Often when we think of evil, or an evil doer, don’t we think of a non-believer? For me, one of the most disillusioning lessons in my earlier calling to ministry was dealing with those in the church who hurt others. I believe that He knew that the greatest wounds would come from within the church and this one verse is the greatest prescription for such a sick thing. I now know, through life’s experiences, that when Jesus was speaking to us about resisting evil, He was not and is not confining it to a person who is not a follower of Christ. The church is not a place for perfect people, or I surely wouldn’t be able to attend any church! Oh, that each church would recognize that they are to be like a hospital which doesn’t turn away sick and wounded patients, but takes them in and begins the symptom assessment through a history and physical and then begins treatment!
It is in the church that we are treated for and taught how to not act out of our flesh! How do we resist evil? By not reacting to it! The reason that’s difficult for us is because too many of us put unreasonable expectations upon others, especially those within the church, placing unrealistic hope in people instead of the Author of Hope. Psalm 146:3 tells us “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is not help.”
I don’t want to belabor this sacrifice, but I feel in my bones that since we deal with people, and God uses relationships to heal us, we need to sit in this for just a bit more. Not that I have perfected this requirement, to resist evil, but now that I understand it I have begun to practice it and each time it gets easier. Now, prior to my truly listening in that example I shared last week, there have been many occasions that I did not turn the other cheek to receive any more words of wrath! In fact, I have been known to spit out a mouthful of nails! You may be saying, “Well, why would you? That’s not what Jesus is saying in that verse.”
I agree; we are not to be doormats; however there is a fine line between turning the other cheek and hurling nails out of our mouth to pierce the heart of the one who hurt us! Have you ever felt like that; like all you wanted to do was strike back and hurt the one who just hurt you? The fine line that must be looked at is the line of pride!
We cannot offer up a sacrifice of righteousness when pride is by our side!
Returning to the incident I shared with you last week, I remember praying before getting out of the car to meet with this person in an effort to resolve conflict, to help me leave my pride in the car. If pride were a child, the conversation would go something like this: I’ll be right back; you stay in the car, I won’t be far. I promise I’ll come back for you! Pride, you stay inside while I go outside!
When we push our pride to the side, we are better equipped to turn the other cheek emotionally from the evil acts of those who hurt us, and face them in love, without retaliating. Could this be a sacrifice of righteousness?
Oh, but I can see now how different it could have turned out; I could have been so ripped off of the spiritual and emotional victory I felt when leaving that meeting.
When dealing with conflict and wanting to offer up a Sacrifice of Righteousness, perhaps if we remember that no matter how right we feel about something and how wrong we feel about someone, in the long run, when we are face to face with Him, He’s not going to ask us about their side; we are going to only talk about our actions and our failure … or success to offer a sacrifice of righteousness! Which shall you choose?
Oh, Abba, I fall short, miss the mark every day, and some days are worse than others. I thank you for your mercies that are new every morning, for your Word that works as a double-edged sword, piercing my heart and trimming away what needs to go. Help me offer up a sacrifice of righteousness, even when I don’t feel like it! When it all comes down to it, Father, what matters is my relationship with you and my relationship with others affects my relationship with you. Help me to be Christ-like to those who slap me in the face with their evil acts.
Seeking to offer a sacrifice of righteousness