“You f…… B…..!” Is the epithet he hurled at me. Did I get your attention? As people who faithfully follow Jesus we are not excluded from our share of anger, vitriol and harassment; if not even more. Christ believers are supposed to share the gospel of Christ and fulfill the call of The Great Commission by telling others about our redeeming Savior. Preachers admonish parishioners at church services worldwide on Sunday mornings to “tell others about Jesus!” I often think: What about those who do not want to be told about God? In today’s climate, I cannot tell you how many times telling others about the goodness of God met me with indifference, hatred and disdain. People are either atheist, agnostic, apatheist or new agers. Hey, different people follow different religions — I get that — and are as passionate about their beliefs as I am about mine. In a few instances, some people I spoke to even tried to get me to convert to their religion. More, other people that I spoke to were deeply hurt by “religious” people and ran as fast as they could away from anyone who uttered the name God. Then there are those who like to challenge your beliefs, undermine your knowledge in God, and corner you into a debate about religion. I’ve learned long ago not to debate God’s word. And then there are those whom I believe are actually tired, miserable, broken and overtaken by their sins but refuse to submit to God out of distrust and/or rebellion. Thus, they attack the “God” in you!
The person who made the offensive comment to me was someone I loved dearly. He was like a brother to me. You know the type of person that is very judgmental, condescending, rude, aggressive and confrontational? This describes my dear friend. He had practically driven away every one in his family and our circle of friends because of his behavior, but I refused to give up on him. “I will love him like Christ loved, and continue telling him about God,” is what I told myself. Nonetheless, at every meeting, dinner, get together with him I left feeling drained, insulted, berated, picked apart and belittled.
But this last meeting was on a whole nother level. It’s as if he came with an agenda to provoke me to respond to his antics. The cheerful person that I am, he began to attack my happiness asking me “Why are you smiling so much? There’s nothing to smile about!” Can you believe it? Someone’s mad at you for smiling! I quickly told him what’s inside reflects on the outside and would he rather I be miserable like him? I know … I know I probably shouldn’t have said that but I just could not believe what I was hearing. He criticized everything from God, my natural hair and character, to my joyful personality. Then it dawned on me how far God had brought me from a few years ago; He took away all my pain and replaced it with His joy! I then began sharing with my friend details of my background and the things God had brought me through, and telling him that’s where my joy comes from. Telling him about the goodness of God in my life seemed to make him even more confrontational. He started badgering religion, religious people and Jesus. I told him that I’m sorry that he feels that way but God is a redeemer and if he would just open up and try to get to know God his life could change too. He said he doesn’t need God and his life is fine without him.
I had to go there! … Albeit nicely. I told him the truth. I told him that his communication with others comes off as negative, aggressive and rude. Sure, we all have our bad days, but to live in a place of perpetual rudeness is a reflective character trait. I reminded him of a couple of people we know that he personally hurt deeply. He took no responsibility and shifted blame on everyone else. He then said that he was a good person and “does good” for others. I told him good works does not make up for the hurt and pain he leaves in his aftermath. I invited him to invite God into his life. I was then met with anger, harsh words, and berating. So much so, I had to walk away from this person whom I considered a dear friend. What truly has the world come to? If you’re smiling it’s fake. If you’re nice you have an ulterior motive. If you’re a Christian you’re hateful because you believe what the Bible says. It’s hard out here in these streets! The Bible forewarned of times such as these.
In Isaiah 5:20, the Bible warns of calling good evil and evil good.
By the time I got home I was in tears and had a pow-wow with God. “God, how could he talk to me like that? Why would he curse me out like that?” It was then God began to pour into my spirit how His Son Jesus was cursed, beaten, and murdered because He shared the good news. It was as if He asked me “Was I more important than His son? Was I better than His son?” If Jesus had to suffer persecution so will you, my child! Wow! It was a wake up call! I had to apologize for my own entitlement and shortsightedness.
How many times have we asked God to “use us” for His kingdom and the assignment does not come as we expect? Truthfully, many do as the aforementioned: question God and walk away from the gospel completely when they are deeply hurt. And truthfully speaking, it is not the person attacking you but the spirit in them. It is often because many people do not want to turn away from their sins, they have been hurt and are afraid to trust God, or they need to test the “God in you” because they need to know He’s real. They are really looking for something to believe in and need to know that this God you speak so highly of is really a redeemer. If we, who proclaim this Christ, buckle at every insult then it gives opposers the finger to mock God and question His power in our lives. I have had it happen time and time again. But what I felt God was speaking to me in this situation is that he used me to plant a seed of salvation. Many hurting people put on a tough exterior but deep down they are yearning for help. God is so loving, he hears their inward cries. When someone touches God’s heart, He usually sends many people to speak into their life.
Life is hard. Sin has hardened people, but our hearts must not become hardened.
This situation with my friend is what I call a ‘Come to Jesus moment.’ We who serve Christ often too have to come to Him and lay at his feet and cry as a little baby. Life is hard. Sin has hardened people, but our hearts must not become hardened. We must do as Paul admonishes,”fight the good fight of faith” and finish our race — bruises, scars, wounds and all!
When we think of temptation we may relate to the anecdote of satan, a physical presence in the form of a snake, tempting Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Eve is enticed and tempted by the captivating fruit that she desires, but in which God told her was forbidden.
I want to talk to you today about a not so obvious temptation; one that is hidden but its bite is as viscous as a snake’s. It’s very subtle, often times catching you off guard and causing you to act out of character.What I’m talking about is emotional temptation. It’s a type of temptation that the devil uses to break your peace. It is when he assigns demons, thru people, to harass and entice you to react negatively or cause you to lose control.
Satan knows your weaknesses. Most temptations are physical: lust, adultery, stealing, alcohol, drugs. e.t.c. But what I’m speaking about in this text are inward temptations: fear, doubt, anger, rage, vanity — to name a few. Temptation that deals with your emotions. Satan often sends his messengers through people to break your confidence, question your looks or abilities, aggravate you, get you flustered and frustrated; which causes you to deflect. By theory you’re a nice person but you have been so severely tormented and harassed by satan’s tempters, it causes you to forget who you are. It causes you to forget your inner beauty, good manners, compassion and dignity.
Some of you don’t even know who you are anymore. You’ve been hijacked by the devil! You used to be loving, kind, and gentle, but because of the circumstances of this life, you’ve turned inward: feeling victimized, feeling sorry for yourself, and letting bitterness take hold, in which you then give back to the world.
If you don’t know who you are the devil will steal your identity! Emotional temptation by the enemy causes you to momentarily be used by the devil by losing your temper, retaliating, and seeking vengeance. After the damage has been done the end result is embarrassment and degradation, then satan leaves just as quickly as he came and you’re left wondering what just happened. You were a pawn to do satan’s work. If you are not wise you will fall into his trap every time, causing destruction upon yourself. If this is your weakness you must be very mindful and prayerful regarding this area of your spiritual walk. Ask God to give you discernment and give you wisdom every time you’re provoked emotionally, not to let satan use you.
Beloved, we have to use common sense as well. If it doesn’t look right, sound right or true, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s sent from the enemy! Walk away! Or if you are in an environment where you can’t walk away, remain silent or try to ignore the offense. Resist the urge to respond, argue, fight. If God leads you to speak on the situation, do so tactfully and kindly then leave the rest to God. Resist the urge to retaliate or seek vengeance. Vengeance is the Lord’s.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
He will take care of the person. You may feel violated, taken advantage of or victimized. Resist the urge to defend yourself from emotional temptation, otherwise you’re walking into the fire. It will take disciplining and training yourself in order to not be provoked by condemning or confronting situations.
Through subjective life experiences, you have learned to respond to situations a certain way; whether good or bad. Pray that God breaks the bad habits. Further develop your good habits.
Signs you’re dealing with emotional temptation:
-Always angry, upset
-Holding a grudge
-Closed off from people
-Used to give freely now holding back
Ask God to remind you who you are, then ask Him to remind you of your first love: Him! If you don’t have a personal relationship with God ask Him to show you how to love like Him; if you do, ask God to help you fall in love with Him again, only then can you love people despite the devil working through them. We must be reminded how the Bible says we should love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Print this out! Hang it on your mirror, refrigerator, dresser. Get these verses into your spirit, Beloved. Live it, don’t just simply read it! Only then will you be able to look contempt in its face, walk away with peace in your heart and let God fight your battles.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. “
Jeremiah 18: 4
Oh how this verse speaks to our human nature! As beings living in this flesh, we are indeed marred! God made us perfect in His own image (Gen. 1:27), but we are marred beloved, by sin, hurt, pain, and rejection. Each entity slowly chipping away at the perfect creation God made us to be! Some of you have been so badly damaged by parents, family, friends, spouses, jobs, that you have become bitter, angry, despondant, broken; even suicidal!
I know, I have been there! It has been a long process to see myself as the beautiful masterpiece that God designed me to be! To achieve that, you need the Peace of the Master — Jesus Christ! The Bible says that Jesus intercedes to the Father for us. (Romans 8:34). I love that! Even though Christ has left this physical earth, He loves us so much that He is still petitioning for us in spirit! So when we know that Beloved, we can be rest assured that God is changing us from glory to glory! (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I love when Jeremiah 18:6 says, “Oh house of Isreal, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! God wants to use all of your disappointments, anger, frustrations, setbacks and strongholds to make you into a new vessel! Amen! He wants it all — your past, wrong thinking about yourself, a life that you deemed a failure; don’t hold onto it, let it go and put it in God’s hands! He wants to remake you, remold you, clean up your image, and make you new! He wants to give you beauty for ashes. And just like clay after it is formed, it has to dry into its mold; so too this Christian life is a process. You’re still being molded, you are not yet complete.
Picasso’s artwork didn’t become famous by his first painting! If you feel like you are marred and broken, hold on … God is changing you into a new vessel!