Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Whom are you trying to punish?

I’ve had a question rumbling around in my spirit for a couple of weeks now.  It hit me while trying to help a friend through a trying situation, but it has personally convicted me to my bones.  The conviction is not for my actions, but for my thoughts… my attitude… my heart.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the overwhelming significance of humility is evident.  As a Sunday school class, we recently read Chapter 2 aloud then listed every word and phrase in the chapter that emphasized humility in Christ, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.  Nearly every single verse of the chapter points toward humility and gives example for its demonstration in our own lives.

The convicting question continued to interrupt my thoughts.  As our class discussed humility and what it means to empty ourselves – pour ourselves out like a drink offering – and allow the power of Christ to complete us into becoming who He created us to be, the question flew into my head one more time.  Then it came out of my mouth, addressing myself as much as anyone:  “Whom are you trying to punish?” 

Does anyone besides me, in their struggle toward humility…
  • in considering others as more important than themselves (Phil 2:3),
  • in having the attitude of Christ (Phil 2:5),
  • in doing all things without grumbling or disputing (Phil 2:14), and
  • in proving themselves blameless and innocent (Phil 2:15)
battle feelings of revenge when they feel wronged by another? 

Honestly.  I’m completely comfortable showing humility to those that I respect and agree with, but how do I relate with those who have wounded my heart or hurt me in ways that bring lingering pain?  Personally, I fight the fleshly desire to take things into my own hands, and handle matters as I believe just and correct.  Instead of waiting on and trusting the Lord, I have an urge, almost a need, to deal with those who have hurt me by carefully aiming both barrels.  Oh, how I hate to confess this truth!

I am confident that others share these same ugly struggles and concerns.  I leave you this week with a request to consider the following questions for yourself:  Whom are you trying to punish?  Why do you wish to punish them?  How have you acted on such desires?  How do you believe that the incarnate Christ would have acted if He were in your exact situation?  After reading Philippians Chapter 2, how would Paul have behaved?  Or Timothy?  Or Epaphroditus?   

I’ll post again soon and look at God’s instruction on how to deal with such matters in ways that are pleasing and honoring to him.  I cherish your prayers as I continue to dig into His Word.  I'll pray for you as you search for answers, too.

"You shall not take vengeance,
nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; 
I am the LORD."  (Leviticus 19:18 NASB)

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