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Put off, Put on

Most people are surprised to learn that I’m an introvert. But really, I am. I can choose to be extroverted and I recognize the value of that, but on the inside, I’m very introverted. On the other hand, I’m also very opinionated and can be outspoken (no wonder everyone is confused) so this week has been really convicting for me. Keep reading….

My small group is working through The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. Which is a great book by the way! I read it in high school but I really don’t remember much from it so this is a good refresher. Last week’s chapter was on having Holiness in Spirit because we all know that you can’t just change outward behavior and be holy. It all begins in our hearts. I was cruising through the chapter when I suddenly hit this line:

“One of the most difficult defilements of spirit to deal with is the critical spirit. A critical spirit is rooted in pride. Because of the “plank” of pride in our own eye we are not capable of dealing with the “speck” of need in someone else.” pg 110

The paragraph goes on but I wrote in my book in large letters: STRUGGLE! I really struggle with a critical spirit! I can be very opinionated (no really?) and quick to point out the flaws in others without regard to their needs. All rooted in pride.

Which brings me to my second punch in the gut for the week. The sermon on Sunday was on Ephesians 4:25-32 and he outlined loving ways of communication. I just wanted to cover up my head and hide. I’m terrible at good communication! It takes me a long time to figure out what I’m actually feeling and by then I think it’s too long to bring it back up but it’s still bugging me and so I sit in silence and brood. Anyone else have this issue? No? Just me? Okay.

Anyway, one of his points really his home with me (ALL of his points were very practical and useful!) He said to ask yourself if YOUR attitude is right before approaching another person AND to ask if this is what the OTHER person needs.

Many times I approach people to get things off my chest. It’s weighing me down, driving me nuts, and so I bring something up (usually from weeks ago because I couldn’t gather my thoughts) so we can talk through it. But maybe that’s just what I selfishly need, not what is most loving towards that person. If it’s not sinful or harmful for our relationship, I should really cover it in love. (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 17:9) SO hard to do when you’ve got a prideful, critical spirit to deal with! But that’s loving my neighbor as myself.

Over all, a pretty convicting and challenging week for this outspoken girl. However, just keeping my negative thoughts to myself isn’t enough. That’s not what the Bible calls us to. God has loftier things in mind for his children. Not only am I to put off my critical self, but I’m to put on gentleness, compassion, and encouragement for others. (Col. 3) It’s not enough to just empty myself of a sinful habit if I’m not also filling my soul with a righteous one.

The beauty of it is that the more I fill myself up with God’s Word and I practically apply what it says, the less negative thoughts even come to mind. What a blessing the Holy Spirit is! Reliance on him is the key to overcoming any sin habit.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Giving Grace

If there’s one thing this last month has taught me it’s to give more grace to others. When someone speaks to you in an angry tone, give grace. When someone lets you down again, give grace. When someone does something that you think is weird or odd, (mind your own business and) give grace. Why? Because EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. is going through something that you know nothing about. You have no idea what is going on in their life or what just happened that may be affecting their behavior.

Speaking for myself, (for better or worse), I’m one of the best fakers out there. My head could be about to explode, but I can still smile and ask how you are doing. And I’m willing to bet a lot of us are like that. Much of our suffering, whether it’s physical or emotional, isn’t seen by others. Now, we could probably save ourselves a little bit of trouble and tell a few certain people how we are feeling but you certainly can’t tell everybody.

Maybe we could all try to give others a little more grace. Maybe instead of whispering about that frustrated and overwhelmed mom in the grocery store, you could walk up and tell her she’s doing a great job and ask if you could help carry her groceries? Maybe if someone leaves early from a party, they aren’t really being a party-pooper, but it took all their strength and energy to make it as long as they did? Maybe that person eating a granola bar in church is trying to keep herself from throwing up because of meds and it was a struggle for her to come to church at all? In these circumstances, will you (will I?) be the compassionate person or will you stoop to judging and mocking?

I’ve just come to realize through my own situations that I really only see a very little bit of everyone else’s lives. I want to be the person who assumes the best of people and shares God’s grace freely and abundantly.

Whether or not it’s deserved doesn’t matter because I certainly didn’t deserve it and neither did you. So why not look for some opportunities to give grace and show compassion?

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2017 in encouragment

 

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Answered Prayers

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t for a long time now, but I do usually pick something in my life that I need to work on and pray for the Lord to help me in that area.

On January 1st of 2016, I asked God to make me a more compassionate person. I realized that I rated very low on the compassion scale and I wanted to be more tenderhearted and sensitive. You see, I’m usually a get-over-it, you’ll-be-fine kind of person. So I prayed and asked God to teach me how to give more compassion to others in 2016.

Did you know that God doesn’t think the way that we do? You probably did. Actually there is a verse that goes with that,For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Well, in MY mind, God was going to make me more compassionate by sending someone to me that really needed compassion and mercy and I would suddenly acquire tons of compassion and have this wonderful opportunity to show it to them. I had it all figured out. But as the verse says God’s ways are not my ways.

Instead, he made it so that I was the person who needed compassion. I needed the people around me to be sensitive and tenderhearted and compassionate. I needed people to care for me, encourage me, and show me gentleness and comfort.

And that’s when it hit me. I didn’t know what compassion was before. If God had done things my way, I wouldn’t have known what to do because I didn’t know how to comfort someone or show them compassion. I needed all those people to teach me and show me first before I could learn to show it to others. I desperately wish I could have learned another way but I know that God’s will is perfect and he is always good.

I am thankful that God placed those people in my life to be living examples of compassion. So you see, God really does answer prayer. I have learned so much about how to comfort others who are going through a difficult situation. I definitely still have a lot to learn and I still pray for compassion often but I am thankful that God didn’t do things my way. I am thankful that his thoughts are not mine and his ways are higher than mine.

 

(You are currently reading a post in a series called The2016Story. If you have jumped in in the middle and would like to start at the beginning, click HERE.)

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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