I got an email from a friend, a good friend. Not the kind that makes you feel wonderful and brings good times shared to mind. It was more of a punch in the gut, mouth-dropping type email. The kind that burdens your heart and leaves you feeling hurt and angry. My mind works fast and within seconds I had formed an attitude, a response, a wall to protect me and the ones I love. All justified, all wrong.
For the past month, I’ve been focusing on renewing my mind. I’ve been studying the Word of God. I’ve been learning to capture my thoughts and only allow those pleasing to my Father to remain. It is hard to do in every day life and nearly impossible when trouble arises.
As I sat looking at this email, conflict begin to grow. I became aware of God speaking, in His still, small voice, directing me to action. The struggle in my heart wasn’t with my friend, but with God. I knew what I wanted to say to my friend, but the Holy Spirit was giving me other instructions. The fighter in me wanted to push out the noise, the thoughts. Most days, I really do want a renewed mind, but on this day, at that moment, I wasn’t not so sure.
Scripture after Scripture began to flood my mind. “Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
I countered, “This isn’t just about me, but about others and reputations. It’s about you, too, God.”
“Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
It was beginning to get very personal. “I’m not the one who wrote the email. I’m not the one sharing wrong information with others. Why should I be the one who falls? I am in the right!”
“Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” And, “I do all things for the sake of the gospel…” And yet more, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Within seconds, I knew “for the sake of the gospel” and “for the sake of Christ” I was being asked to lay down everything and extend love and forgiveness. I long to have the mind of Christ, but I struggle to lay aside my own “rights” to get it. I want to be clothed in humility, but I don’t want to take off the prideful garments which show MY good deeds, my abilities. Here is the real struggle, in the hidden places of my heart I’m content right where I am and I don’t want to be any more like Christ.
It is a shock to see darkness revealed, especially in my own life. Yet, this is what I’ve been asking Him to do in me. Reveal my secret sins. Show me areas where I’ve kept and nurtured wrong thinking and remove it. I was hoping He’d send me a list in my dreams or in some other neat, tidy, non-emotional way. But in His goodness, He has shown me I care more for my rights, more for reputations, than I care for Him and others.
Confessing, repenting, bathing myself in His righteousness, not my own, brings freedom. I am able to love, forgive, and continue a precious relationship because I see myself in need of forgiveness, too. I recognize my daily need of a Savior. And, in the words of Scripture I find comfort, not condemnation. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren…let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 Jn. 3:16,18)
Here I am, laying down my life, my rights, my reputation, my sense of justice so that You may be glorified in me. So that You can work in me and in the life of my friend. In order that I may truly know love and forgiveness.