Happy Hump Day … middle of the week. I love Wednesdays! Grab your coffee and your Red Strand of Faith and let’s go rewind to remind us of the sacrifices we’ve learned about so far before we wrap up the Sacrifice of Righteousness.
There are seven sacrifices required of us in the course of our faith walk! The first one we uncovered was the Sacrifice of Praise. To praise Him in the storm is considered a sacrifice. We don’t necessarily have to praise Him for the storm but we are asked to praise Him in the storm. Do you see the difference? Just like it’s easy to love those we know love us, it’s also easy to praise Him and be thankful when things are going well. But our faith is put to the test when stormy circumstances crash into our lives and beckon our praise and we lift it up above the crashing waves.
The second sacrifice to joy is the Sacrifice of Righteousness, and we have covered a lot of ground on this subject by giving a few examples of what is considered a Sacrifice of Righteousness, including the ground of forgiveness!
Remember, righteousness translates to doing what is right in the sight of God, even when you feel wronged! Since righteousness constitutes a spiritual sacrifice, it stands to reason that it will cost us something. Doing what is right many times carries a genuine price tag.
A great way to walk towards a Sacrifice of Righteousness is by taking a step back. This allows Him to move forward. I was reminded of this after a heated telephone conversation just the other day. Oh, how I love this truth: His word gently but lovingly teaches me while chastising me at the same time! Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (others).”
Do you see the beginning part, if it is possible? Those words do not denote a permission slip to retaliate; rather, they relieve me of the burden of trying to get the other person to see things my way, or for the other person to be nice! Only what is possible with me! It is not reasonable to expect healthy words and/or actions from unhealthy hurting people! As I write this particular blog, our God is doing all He will to teach me a balance of friendship vs. ministry, and let me tell you, it’s a tough line to figure out. Sometimes, I find myself so passionately involved that it becomes contradictory to ministry and ministering. Did you know you can actually do ministry without God?
Coffee Hour Friend, I so understand how hard it is to just first step back, and not move forward until you can let go and let God! We must become determined to learn this lesson of offering up a sacrifice of righteousness, a lesson that is so multi-faceted; each facet shining through the different form of righteousness and adding depth and solidarity to my joy.
So when we began this particular sacrifice, I had an opportunity to offer Him up a sacrifice of righteousness by being silent after feeling attacked and ridiculed by someone I love in front of someone I love. I failed in that test and the very thing I was teaching someone not to do, I DID!
But God’s not done!
It seems lately that every opportunity to offer up a sacrifice of righteousness involves the same principle but with a bit more depth, and while I’m usually taken off guard when the circumstance happens, I am now more prepared to step back before moving forward in deed and in words.
I’m so thankful that God loves us enough to grant us do-overs, to give us as many second chances as we need to learn how and when to offer up a sacrifice of righteousness. Trust me when I say He loves us too much to not grant us opportunity after opportunity to offer up a sacrifice of righteousness. In fact, I can almost bet you will have at least one to three opportunities to do just that. And when you get stopped in your tracks by someone else’s meanness, sarcasm, or any kind of act that is intended to hurt you or maybe not intended to but it does, think on the ultimate example of Christ as He hung on a cross so that we could become righteous: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do?”
Yes, each do-over is a form of refining and God’s refining fire is so painfully brilliant at times it throws me to my face in humility and causes me to beg for the water of His Word. Yes, humility is a necessary pool to bathe in, especially as I prepare to go into the trenches with others who are struggling with wounds, weaknesses, and worries. I must not forget where I came from and how I came to Who I came!
There are so many mini downloads, as I call them, for the recent lessons He has been faithful to teach me about offering up a Sacrifice of Righteousness, but the loudest one echoing in the nooks of my heart and gushing out into my whole being is found in 1st Peter 5:6: “Humble yourself before the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time”: in other words, when I feel others have wronged me, I don’t need to be the teacher of the lesson I think they need to learn. The cost is too great! Think about it like this: When a fire starts, do I add a match, or walk away and thus let it go out?
I love what He promises in 1st Peter 5:7 when we do just that: “casting all your cares on Him for He cares for you.” After all, if I am a Christian who does not love the unlovable, then I am without the greatest gift, love which grows joy!
Oh, friends, He is so good to hold us accountable and I am not quite giggling as I realize He’s done just that: held me accountable to the very thing I share with others on so many occasions in ministry: Just because someone verbally slaps us with their perceptions, doesn’t give us permission to slap them back with ours. There is no unity in that. In fact, love is the framework for unity and truly listening adds shades of beauty to beautiful to describe but seldom seen. If all I am able to do is concentrate on defending what’s being said, then I am not focused with a heavenly perspective of unity. Rather, I have missed what’s not being said and forgotten about the One who will defend me when it’s all said and done.
Having a heavenly perspective in an earthly battle will keep us from stepping out of the bigger picture, which is unity in and for the Bride of Christ, the ultimate Kingdom of which we are headed. Oh, to be a kingdom builder and not a building destroyer.
Ask yourself: Can I agree to disagree, in love, for the greater good of Him?
Whew, I better let you go and tomorrow we’ll wrap up this sacrifice … for sure, and move on to the third of seven!