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Y’all. My tribe has a had a ROUGH few months.
I’m talking physical illness, a drug overdose, threats received, arrests, hospitalizations, false accusations made, two cars totaled, friendships lost, three deaths, two leaky roofs, and the hits just keep on coming.
And while I’ve done my best to behave in a way that honors God, it has still been a super hard journey.
Honestly, it’s probably been harder because I’ve been trying to behave like a Christian and live like Jesus.
There are have been many days I’ve wanted to act petty and messy and mean and spiteful and then ask for forgiveness. Because I know I’d get it from God and He’s the only one that matters right?
Well, not really.
In fact, the way that Christians handle themselves during adversity reveals way more about their faith than how they behave during times of smooth sailing.
It’s easy to be meek and righteous when everyone is kind to you, but when someone is lying about your best friend, your husband is in a roll over car accident, and the bank won’t refund the fraudulent charges made on your debit card… the claws want to come out.
Or maybe you get overwhelmed when things start crashing down around you and you doubt yourself. It’s like after a car wreck that you know wasn’t your fault, you still think of ways the accident might have been avoided.
“If I had stayed home…”
“If I had not stopped to give the baby one more hug…”
“If I had brushed my teeth again…”
In reality it wasn’t your fault, and while improved dental hygiene is always a plus, you couldn’t have stopped tragedy from befalling you.
Still, you may doubt yourself.
Your friends may doubt you, too.
Think about Job and his besties. (Job 4)
So how can you know if you’re behaving like Jesus or Susan?
*Side note: if your name is Susan, I mean no offense here. I think Susan is a great name. I’m just using the name Susan as a placeholder for every single human name out there. Because we are all fallible and none of us live up to the standard that Jesus set. We all good Susan?
Compare Everything to the Bible
This isn’t a list of steps to check yourself. God gave us one living and inerrant Word for us to know Christ and to become progressively more like Him.
But to be more specific about where in the Bible, compare everything to what Jesus did or said to do.
You can almost always find a scripture to support what you believe. My family is constantly quoting Leviticus 19:28 to support their stance against tattoos.
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:28
But they just skip right over Leviticus 19:27 with their non-bearded, non-side burned selves.
“Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” – Leviticus 19:27
So compare what you are doing to what Jesus said to do. Not a random Old Testament verse or something you found in Revelation.
Not what a deacon or pastor or incredibly wise mentor is doing.
Not what you feel like you should do.
What did Jesus say?
In Luke 6:12, we read about how “Jesus went to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
Are you setting aside time to pray the way Jesus did or do you just pray haphazardly when things get tough?
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Are you reading your Bible daily because you know you cannot live without it?
In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
You might like this post The Nine Best Bibles for Every Stage of Life.
Are you proclaiming the gospel to all the people in your world?
In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense.”He goes on to lay out a whole process for dealing with conflict among Christians.
Are you following those guidelines when dealing with conflict?
In John 3:16, we read about how “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Are you forgiving others as Jesus forgave you with his death on the cross?
Because here’s the thing – if you are doing God’s work, there are always going to be obstacles.
Satan will throw them up often. Yes, I said Satan. He’s real. He’s roaming the earth like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and he will do anything to keep people from being reached with the love of God.
So if you are out there, ministering, loving, and doing good works, there will be conflict.
Don’t let it stop you.
Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him. And yet, He loved Judas. He ministered to Judas. He prayed for Judas.
All the while, knowing Judas would betray Him and He would die as a result of it.
This blows my mind.
I am hurt by things that have been said about me and my family and none of those things have resulted in a mortifying and excruciatingly painful execution. But just the small pain that those words and actions have caused me, makes me want to quit ministering and hole up in a blanket fort eating pizza rolls.
And that’s exactly what Satan wants.
He wants to hurt me so that I stop teaching my class of sweet little 4th and 5th grade girls.
And so that I will stop planning next year’s VBS.
And so that I will stop helping in the church library.
He wants me so upset that I’m even distracted during worship on Sunday mornings because he hates to hear the Lord praised.
He wants us to only hear the negative, and to assume that every whisper is about us. He wants you and me to believe that our church would better without us.
He doesn’t want me to listen to the positive. He wants to me ignore the teenager that was baptized last week and the five kids who gave their hearts to Jesus this week. He wants me to forget that my friend joined our church after years of not being a part of a church family. He wants me to look right past three of my precious children worshipping with all their little hearts.
But I won’t give in.
Of course, there will be seasons of life where ministry has to be scaled back. And that’s totally fine. It’s good.
Focus on your family when you feel God calling you to take a break.
But if you are quitting ministry in response to what another person has done or said or didn’t do or didn’t say, you are quitting for the wrong reason.
And you quitting will not ultimately hurt the person that hurt you, it will hurt the lost and dying world.
It will hurt the people that God ordained you to tell the good news.
So I will continue to read my Bible, pray without ceasing, and tell others about Jesus and how He saved even a wretch like me.
I am not better than the people causing me pain.
I am just like them – a sinner saved by grace living an abundant life that I don’t deserve.