I am a careful, deliberately, protective parent. Overprotective? Maybe. Whatever. Who cares?
The world is fraught with miseries and my main goal as a mother is to instruct my children on how to avoid falling victim to those miseries. To be clear, to me those miseries aren’t necessary a result of material poverties, a health epidemic, or even persecution. They are more painful than that, more desperate. They are spiritual, mental, emotional and relational poverties.
The bearers of these poverties are those who live feeling perpetually victimized by political policies, conspiracy theories, bad drivers, critical family members or coworkers. . . anyone who disagrees with or inconveniences them and their fragile senses of well-being. Oh, our society and churches are filled with these people. . . Sometimes it’s me. . . Might be you.
What am I demonstrating to my children if I pridefully ridicule another driver for mistakes or selfish maneuvers I am certain I have pulled at some point in my life? Am I making powerless victims of my children when I rant and rage and complain bitterly from my living room or blog from my office about political policies and societal ills? What am I teaching my children when I cast merciless judgment on the actions of our neighbors or fellow church members or our friends. . . when there is little to no faith or grace in my words and attitudes?
When I do those things, I am teaching them to feel like victims, to feel powerless, to feel self-entitled. I am feeding them anger and rage and fears and anxieties and bitterness. . .There is no shortage of these feelings and attitudes in the world. One does not have to look far, or even past ourselves to see them.
However, there is this passage in the bible that slays me and all my natural, self-righteous, self-entitled impulses. Gal:5:22-12, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
This is my inheritance, my yardstick for spiritual maturity, the support beams for my temple, built on my foundation of faith. These are my gifts even when the world is failing me. I can watch societies fall, let drivers cut me off, endure when governments strip my rights, bear up under ridicule and judgment from others because of these precious gifts. Others can sin with no regret and that does not have to leave me feeling unstable. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress. In Him will I trust, “ and no other. (Ps 94:22) It’s not the republicans, or the police force, or new legislation of any kind. This peace, this patience, this kindness, this goodness, this faithfulness, this self-control. . . It comes from the Lord as our gift despite our circumstances.
So I teach my children compassion, and overprotect them from those who cast self-righteous, merciless judgments. I want them to see the world through this compassionate lens that so compelled God to send His one and only son to die for us. . . for me. . . for homosexuals. . . for liberals and conservatives . . for selfish drivers. . . .for gossipers. . . We are not victims of a world set against us. Because of His love and grace, and NOT because our political party won or that bad driver was ticketed, Romans 8:37 says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
When people are hurting, they hurt others. It is those who give in to their compulsion to hurt and hang onto an entitlement to earthly comforts and validation from others, and deny forgiveness, mercy and grace to others who need it just as much as we need it for ourselves, who end up hurting others and perpetuation the problem.
The power goes to those who can break that vicious cycle with compassion, mercy, grace and all of those delicious and liberating fruit declared in Galatians. The victors are those who see imperfections in others and the world and offer them the same grace, compassion, mercy, and fruit that we ourselves crave for our own imperfections. Since we live on earth and not in heaven we cannot achieve heaven or perfection in ourselves or others or our circumstances or societies. We can only seek the Lord and his sufficiency to bless us with spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational health in the midst of external suffering.
One last thing, this is not a call to sit cross legged in compassion circles and sing “kumbaya.” Action is needed. Actively reaching out and serving others is key. Sharing our hope through Christ is cornerstone. This is simply call to stop complaining, stop raging, stop with demanding our self-entitlements, and start nourishing a starving world with the nutritious fruit of the Holy Spirit it needs in order to see Christ in us. . .
Lord, I surrender every part of my life to you. Use me that others might see the liberating, victorious truths of your Word in my life.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.