I cannot say that I’m always moved with compassion or sadness for those who are causing affliction in my life.
I mean, they’re the ones hurting me and causing pain in my life, why should I care about them and the state of their Christianity?
It wasn’t too long ago that I went through a dark period in life where this happened to me. Life felt like it was spinning out of control and it seemed everyone was enjoying throwing rocks, oblivious to the person receiving the blows. They were attacking a fellow soldier in this war against sin, a person who was already hurting.
Can you relate?
I woke up dreading what the day would bring. Would it be a quiet day or would it be filled with tears and sadness from the cruelty of other Christians? So often it was the latter.
My whole world was turned upside down and it would never be the same again. Wasn’t that enough?
Maybe it’s not other Christians hurting you. Maybe it’s unsaved family members. Maybe it’s your coworkers. Whoever it is, it is usually a painful experience that many of us would rather not go through.
You see, a man to whom I was personally very close to and someone that I looked up to as a spiritual role model ended up in the media spotlight for a grave sin. Many people looked up to him so this was a big surprise and many people took sides. And if you were on the side that was not in favor of the prevailing public opinion, you were the recipient of a stone to the face.
Sad but true.
I often said during that time, it’s a good thing the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we pray because I wasn’t praying such nice things towards those hurting me.
So often this becomes the response of many people during these hard times.
I learned a lot during that time such as: put your eyes on God and not man, God is good even in the valley, Christians should get along and be unified, and that God always, always, always has a plan even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment.
But ya know what I learned this week from our study that I can apply to this life-altering trial?
We should be saddened at the spiritual state of those afflicting us.
We should be grieved by how far away people are from God when they’re bringing affliction into our life.
We should be moved with compassion over their spiritual state.
Even if they’re hurting us.
David had compassion despite the pain that his transgressors were causing him.
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word. Psalms 119:158
Ouch. Excuse me while I rub my toes awhile.
If we are brutally honest with ourselves, can we say this is true for us?
Probably not. We want vengeance. We want justice. We want our pain to go away first and foremost.
Christians throwing rocks at each other isn’t a pretty sight.
We aren’t going to be immune to this kind of trial. People all have egos. Facebook and social media have made throwing rocks even easier in our culture. It’s easy for people to sit behind a screen and throw rocks without ever thinking about the effect it will have on others.
We all have a sin flesh and more than we’d like to admit, we let that flesh control us.
But there is another way to handle these situations. At least for the one receiving the blows. We don’t have to let our flesh rule over us. We can’t control the other people, the situation, but we can control ourselves.
We can make the same choices as David.
David was grieved over their spiritual state.
So the next time, which hopefully won’t be anytime soon, I find myself enduring pain from others I hope I can say that I was grieved, saddened and moved with compassion for their spiritual state instead of just my physical state.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12
If you’re being afflicted by fellow Christians, or maybe you will be one day, remember that we aren’t fighting each other but against sin. Let’s push our pride to the side and pray for the spiritual state of those hurting us. Let’s fight sin and not each other!
David’s life was on the line, I think we can follow his example.
I’m right there with ya!
Your turn! Have you used this principle in your own life? Do you find this hard to apply?
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