Romans 7:15 (NIV)
Right before I climbed out of bed early one morning to work out, I lifted up my day to the Lord. I asked Him to direct my attitude to be one of kindness and compassion; to help me see anyone who is hurting or needs an encouraging comment; to overlook those whose attitude is less than kind toward me; to ignore things that are hurtful and instead look for good in everyone.
Requests sincerely spoken from my heart as I tell Jesus that I want to be like Him. And then I go to the gym.
The one with the music blasting at a “permanently damage and rupture your eardrum” level turns the music UP louder when I ask if he could turn it down just a bit.
Immediately the anger in my heart begins to grow as I quietly wish he would pull a muscle and have to leave. I really DO want to be like Jesus but to this guy, Lord? Are you kidding?
Then I follow an elderly woman driving 10 mph in a 40 mph zone as I hurry to the store. She signals she is turning left and then suddenly swerves back into my lane and never realizes that I came within inches of hitting her. Honestly! Why in the world is she even driving? Impatience and unkind thoughts join the anger already building in my heart.
And if that wasn’t enough, I have to deal with yet another call to the phone company and explain for the 5th time that my bill is incorrect and I never made any calls to a foreign country nor have I ever called one in my entire life.
Add the fact that I can’t understand what the woman is saying and she keeps repeating that she is sorry but doesn’t correct my bill because she needs to transfer me to yet another department! People like this, Lord? Those who really don’t care about my problem? I’m supposed to be kind to them?
It is 10 a.m. and I have already done the complete opposite of what I had just prayed only hours earlier. What in the world is wrong with me?
Paul, in Romans 7:15, totally understood what we are facing. He writes “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Sound familiar? That’s us!
Paul was a Godly man who loved the Lord with all his heart and yet he struggled with the very attitudes and emotions that we struggle with every single day. I truly long to be like Jesus. I want to be His hands and feet and for people to know by my actions that I serve Him with every part of my life. And yet, I fail again and again.
Thankfully, we have a Father who understands that we will fail repeatedly because we are human and because we are weak. We allow sin to creep in and unfortunately try to determine for ourselves just who WE think we should be kind to in our lives.
The Lord has given us a helper as we maneuver through every day. He is the Holy Spirit. We read in John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
He is the nudge in your heart that says “Take a deep breath. You have no idea what is going on in her life.” He whispers “You just did that same thing yesterday and you are forgiven.” He reminds me that the Lord of my life is the Lord of all. And that He loves everyone – no matter how loud the music or how slow the driver.
And so I will try again. I will ask for forgiveness and a second chance. God replies with “Of course.” I will remind myself of Colossians 3:13 that says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
My blood pressure will go back to normal. My breathing will relax. And my heart will rejoice that God forgives us for the very things we get angry about with other people.
Father, thank you for your patience and forgiveness with me as I try to live a life as you would have me live. I will focus on you and your word.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
R.A.P. it up . . .
· Can you remember a time when you became angry over an incident someone did that you did yourself?
· Why did you think that what they did was somehow “different” than you doing the same thing?
· Journal your actions in the last week when someone did something to irritate you or make you mad and your reaction.
· Thank the Lord for forgiving you for your negative reaction, take a deep breath, thank Him for His forgiveness, smile and praise Him for what He has done in your life. Repeat as necessary.
· Romans 7:15 (NIV) “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
· John 14:26 (NIV) “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
· Colossians 3:13 (NIV) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)