When out walking recently, my wife and I were discussing a family situation where members had fallen out (as I’m sure happens in many families from time to time). As we talked she said something that has stuck with me since, that “the majority of the frustrations and annoyances we have with other people has its source in our own heart.” A sobering thought but a truth that is so clearly evident from what I know of my own heart and what I see from time to time in others who are quarrelling. Jesus said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Matt 7 v 3 The answer to this question is self preservation and pride. Truly Jeremiah could say “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Pride will just not allow us to admit that we are in some shape or form part of ‘the problem’. I think of Adam in the garden. When he had sinned and was caught red handed, did he agree with God that he had sinned and rebelled? No, pride would not allow Adam to admit that he was at fault, instead he blamed Eve, and what was her reaction? She blamed the serpent.
So when I come across someone who is exasperating, frustrating and annoying, when someone is accusing or even persecuting me, how does the Lord expect me to react? Romans 12 v 14 exhorts us to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” and verse 19 “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
You see by praying for those who stand against you an amazing thing happens. That bitterness and contempt that is so easily cultivated in the human heart, is dispelled. Praying for that person is just as much about spiritual blessing to your own soul as it is about the Lord working in the life of the other person. Any opportunity for pride to be realised in your heart is immediately snuffed out as you humble yourself to pray for that someone who has hurt or annoyed you. It is such a natural reaction to bite back when we are offended, but think of the example of our Master. He was beaten and mocked, He was scourged and spat upon, He was stripped naked, humiliated and hammered to a cross, and yet He took no offense as He offered up the prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Of all men, He the spotless Lamb of God had every right to be offended but rather He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
At the recent Men’s Breakfast we were reminded of the scripture 2 Chronicles 7 v 14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Surely to humble ourselves begins with how we react to others. It means not taking offense, but allowing God the right to deal with the situation His way.
The bible tells us that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” What was it about Moses that the Lord held him in such high regard? Could it perhaps be because Moses “was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12 v 3
James 4 v 6 tells us that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. “