Recently I had dinner with some long-time friends. We have had some great times over the years doing ministry together. In the course of our conversation, I found myself getting angry at the injustices that we had all experienced in doing ministry. It isn’t right and the Bible says it should be… we want things to be done right and in a righteous manner. While that is good, we so easily turn it from the general category of sin against a holy God to sin against us.
We so often find ourselves saying, “I deserve respect. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to be heard. I deserve to have a voice…” the list goes on and on. We tell ourselves that the Bible says the other person should love me, lead me, and shepherd me and the anger and bitterness fills our hearts.
When the emotions rise up it is a warning to our hearts that something is in need of spiritual attention.
We can believe we are right about something and we can be. In our belief that we are right, we can think that we know and live the truth and others are not. It is a subtle form of thinking we are better than others. In essence, we may be displeased and unhappy because we are harboring bitterness. In our blindness we have lost our ability to love and have mercy. We lose sight that we are just like them.
The beauty of the love of mercy is that it creates equals or pulls us down to the other person’s level. Romans 5:6-8 demonstrates this with God’s love. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even die-but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We see three factors at work:
Those who are unable to love think they are above everyone else.
Those who love know they are at the same level as everyone else.
Those who are full of mercy and love will gladly take a lower place.
Which factor do you find yourself identifying?
The three factors help us to see where we are on the spiritual journey. Those who do not love the end is death, those who love experience life, and those who love much grow in holiness. Those who are merciful receive God’s promise of mercy, (Matthew 5:7).
Jesus puts this lofty ideal before us, it is the ideal He lived, stooping down to the lowest place, even to the extreme of being rejected as a common criminal to die on a cross.
Where do you find yourself getting angry at some perceived right being denied you? Take this an indicator of a need to pull over with God and check your heart for pride. May God gently rebuke you and draw you to a place of repentance and sweet forgiveness. Then when God asks you like Isaiah, your answer will be the same. “And I heard a voice for the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said “Here am I! Send me,” (Isaiah 6:8).