When was the last time someone sinned against you? How did you respond?
Last Wednesday I wrote about the 8 sinful responses we typically have after we've been wounded by another: regret, fear, defend, withhold, retaliate, react, judge or doubt. These are instinctive and understandable reactions, but they only add further trouble to the trouble we're already experiencing.
So how should we respond in the face of another's sin? Let me suggest four God-centered, grace-recognizing ways:
1. Run to your Lord, not away from him.
Instead of meditating on all the nasty things that you've endured at the hands of the person who hurt you, give yourself to examining, meditating upon, and recounting the beauty of your Lord. Psalm 27 is a great passage for this; I would encourage you to read the Psalm after this devotional.
When evildoers assail you or when war arise against you (Psalm 27:2-3), consider God's love, mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, wisdom, power, forgiveness, and kindness. Require yourself to consider that this moment may not be a contradiction of his character qualities, but rather a demonstration of them.
2. Remember your place.
Your life no longer belongs to you. Your story is no longer just your story. You have been welcomed to the kingdom of Another, and your life is part of the plan and purposes of that kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Don't allow yourself to begin to think that you're in the center of your universe. Remember, you've been chosen to live for the glory of Another, and when you do, you'll reach levels of personal contentment and joy that aren’t possible any other way.
3. Learn your lessons.
God has you in a painful moment, not simply to reveal himself to you, but to grow and change you through it as well. He has chosen to keep you in this fallen world because he hasn't finished redeeming you (see Philippians 1:6).
It's right to long for the grace of release and the grace of relief, and sometimes you do experience these, but primarily this moment is a moment of refinement. The heat of interpersonal difficulty is meant to purify us, something that each of us continues to need.
4. Reflect his light.
In these painful experiences, God is not only calling you to submit to his will, but to actively give yourself to the values and work of his kingdom.
He calls you to reflect the light of his character. He calls you to suffer in ways that can only be explained by his presence and power in your life. Jesus said it this way: “. . . that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
So the next time you're sinned against, remember that you're not alone, and remember that what's happening to you isn’t an accident or an oversight. In ways that are hard to grasp, you're being loved.
On top of it all, God will use you as an ambassador to express his forgiving and life-transforming love to the person who just sinned against you!
- How were you sinned against (again) this past week?
- How did you react when you were wounded? Be specific when evaluating your words or actions.
- Of the four things suggested, which are you most tempted to forget when your life is troubled by the sin of others?