The test is this: How do we react when we are betrayed by someone that is close to us, whether it be a family member, friend, close associate or a stranger? Is your first thought, “I should pursue peace with all men”? Or does anger immediately fill you and your mind starts to think about ways to “get even”? What does “get even” mean and how do we know when we are “even”? Ignore the anger? No, if you hold your anger, it will eventually become a “root of bitterness”. That root, as it grows, will push every good thing out of the way to manifest itself in your personality. Let God handle it for you. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a “friend” who had been the treasurer of the disciples and a companion for the better part of 3 years. What was his reaction to that betrayal? He allowed Judas to carry out his work even though Jesus knew it would mean His death. Remember, because of our sins, we have all betrayed Jesus and yet, He died for us. Easier said than done, right? So, how do we allow God to do it?
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.–Zechariah 4:6 (NASB)
We listen to the Spirit of the Living God and His Spirit directs us as to what we should say and/or do. Most likely, the only action for us will be to pray for the person who has offended us and prepare our hearts to forgive when we are asked and render assistance and encouragement when the offender needs it.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Have you ever wondered if God thinks about us in these terms? I am sure that satan, the old deceiver, would like for us to believe that He does. If we have ever had these kind of thoughts, we should be like the Psalmist here. In his very next breath (or verse in this case), he immediately gets his head on straight by remembering what has happened in every instance in the past. The Psalmist realizes that he is speaking from a bitter heart and he has been questioning God’s wisdom. God never leaves us nor forsakes us nor does He cast us from His presence. Instead, He reaches down to us and if we reach up to Him, He takes us by the hand and continues to lead us toward our glorious destiny. The Psalmist remembers that God is our strength, our fortress and our shield. We allow satan to sneak these silly ideas into our minds when we are focused on the horizontal. We need to stay focused on the vertical. That means spending time alone with God, praising and thanking Him for His goodness and His blessings. If we do this, we can be assured that God will set the rest of the world straight in His own time.
7 People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil and full of deadly poison. 9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself. 10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. 11 Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree make olives, or can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water.–James 3:7-12 (NCV)
We must always be careful with our words. Somehow, we have gotten into the bad habit of thinking that every word said to us needs a quick reply. It is those knee-jerk responses that get us into trouble most times. We need to take the time to consider what we have just heard and weigh its meaning. What is the situation? What is the tone of voice? Did we hear correctly? In our “busy” lifestyle nowadays, we have to have a lot more patience and consider the other person’s perspective.
Our words should always be uplifting and encouraging. Our lips should bless and not curse. The words we say should always be a “sweet, sweet sound” in the ears of God, then we know they will be pleasing to others. God listens and hears every word we say. Let our words be sweet cool water to a tortured soul. Then people will know what we have in our hearts. For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.–Matt 12:34b (NLT)
29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.–Eph. 4:29-32 (NLT)
God created the world with the spoken Word. It is held in place by the Power of His Word. Our words have power, they can be words of life or words of death. When we speak words of death and live disobedient lives, we grieve God’s Holy Spirit. It pleases God for us to walk right and talk right. If we hold resentment and anger in our hearts, it becomes a root of bitterness. That root grows because the flesh feeds it and soon it pushes out all forgiveness and love. Being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving kills the root and we follow after the example of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. You can’t please God and the flesh, you must choose which it will be. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?–James 3:10, 11 (NLT)