When Keeping It Inside is Just as Bad

I found myself getting increasing frustrated the longer I sat next to them in the parking lot.  When I pulled in and turned off my car, I found myself waiting for what seemed like an eternity while a mother got out and struggled with her child in the back seat, oblivious to the fact that she was blocking my door, and that I was waiting for her to move.  The grandmother was sitting in the front seat, and clearly saw my impatience, but said nothing and did nothing to hurry the process.  I wasn’t in any great hurry, but I don’t like my time to be wasted.  I opened my door a little to let the mother know that I was waiting, but still nothing hurried her along.  After forever and a day, she moved, and I was able to get out of my car.  I swiftly walked past them in an effort to parade my level of intolerance to their situation.  When I went back to my car, I noticed that they had left their car unlocked and unattended.  A million schemes flooded my brain as I thought about exacting some sort of small revenge.  Nothing big, but enough to gain the upper hand.  However, I then decided I’d be the bigger person and just walk away.  I proudly drove down the hill, thinking I’d been such a good person and Christian because I could have done something but decided to do nothing to someone who I felt had wronged me.  Most Christians would look at that situation and my resulting decision and congratulate me on walking away and doing nothing.  Many would see how I looked my enemy almost directly in the face, and instead of attacking I choose to forgive them.  Yet, these people would be sorely mistaken about my cleanliness, as much as I was, in that moment.  Many of us seem to think that there is great merit and holiness in holding our tongue or resisting the urge to strike out at others when we are justified in doing so, but holding back in times of conflict is nothing more than a whitewashing of tombs, a cleaning of the outside.  1Samuel 16.7 reveals the varying views that man and God have of ourselves: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  Although man sees me turning the other cheek and choosing not to act, the Lord sees the heart and mind where my planned but un-carried out schemes lie, an individual no better than a typical Pharisee, one who strictly observes the law but inwardly feels superior because he or she has observed it despite what was felt.  In our relationships, we pat ourselves on the back when others do or say something that vexes us, but in our heart, we push down what we really want to say.  When we do this act, only two things result: a feeling of superiority to, and a resentment of, the other person.  It’s great that we don’t act, but that we have the desire to act is where the sin truly lies.  So, what do we do when another wrongs us and we can feel the hatred start to boil?  First, realize that we are a sinful, broken people, and that it is our nature to respond sinfully.  After establishing a level of humility and admitting helplessness, ask for God to intervene and cover those feelings with His love.  When you ask for His intervention and help, the opportunity for feeling superior doesn’t come into play, and instead of lifting up ourselves to the world, we are lifted away from the situation and to Him.  It’s then that God’s love breaks through and shines brighter instead of our own “good” deeds.  Amen.

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