Bitter?

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Have you ever done your best only to be rewarded with criticism?  Have you been in a place of responsibility and had to make decisions that others did not understand?  I recently talked with a leader who was ‘done with it’ because in spite of giving his best, it wasn’t enough. The noisy voices of his critics had finally gotten to him. He’s a good guy and I feel for him. I pray he will be renewed in his faith and find the strength to quietly outlast the nay-sayers.

Everybody gets to be misjudged, misquoted, misunderstood, or unappreciated … sometime, somewhere. Been a parent? Coached a Little League team? Been married?

Human relationships are complicated – the source of wonderful joy and terrible pain. I suppose the only way to avoid pain is to become a hermit.  In life’s reality, we have two choices – get bitter or get better!  Bitterness comes to us easily, almost a self-protective reflex. But bitterness is a poison that is indiscriminate. We cannot pour a cup for another without having it splash into our own soul.

So, how can we get better instead?

1. Christian never forget Who you are ultimately serving. Jesus said that even giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty person or visiting someone who is lonely is a gift to Him. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) He knows exactly why we did what we did and never misunderstands or forgets. Sobering, isn’t it? Hopefully, it encourages to do the right thing regardless of appreciation or reward on this earth.  There is great peace to be found in the faith that the One who knows us best is never deceived by our critics.  When we are willing to let Him sort it all out, we can move into a place where our heart remains tender and we are faithful to the call. Focus on the One who never forgets.

2. Refuse to return fire, when others fire on you. Whoa, that’s a tough call, isn’t it? I admit it’s easier to write about it than to live it.  We want to defend ourselves. We want to justify and explain. But, Jesus is the great example. When insults were hurled at Him, He stood silent. He was ready to let His life speak for itself and trust His reputation to the Father.  Peter tells us “If you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. … He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.” (1 Peter 2:20-23, The Message)

3. Beyond that, Christian, we are taught to seek the good of those who seek our harm. Going beyond mere non-response supernaturally we move to bless them. “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:28, NLT)  Jesus loved us when we ignored Him. He did not do it half-heartedly, either. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Paul says.  Will we be willing to die to Self to bring others nearer to God?

How can this even be possible?  Our peace and security rests on the secure foundation of the Lord’s love for us and His keen insight. When your soul is battered, your heart is broken, your mind cries out for vindication – go to Jesus’ embrace. He knows the Truth and even if all Hell accuses, it is He alone that makes us right in the sight of the Father.

Here’s a word from the Word. Make it your prayerful meditation today.
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.” Amen
(Psalm 33:18-23, NKJV

________

Lord I Need You

(A prayer in song.)

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart 

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

 Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

 So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher © 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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