Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8:44). His master plan is to lie to us and get us to believe his lies. No doubt, some lies deal with issues of false doctrine. But that isn’t what I want us to consider in this series of posts. Rather, Satan sometimes realizes he can’t devour some Christians with doctrinal error. Instead, he tries something more insidious, something capable of knocking us completely off our spiritual feet. If we believe these lies, we will be taken captive and destroyed.
I received a heart-rending letter this week from a brother who is suffering the earthly consequences of his heinous sins. He had heard a sermon I preached entitled “We are Allowed to Love Ourselves.” You may remember the series on this very topic that I wrote on this blog. The brother wanted to know how he could ever forgive himself. Having committed some heinous sins myself, I want to know the same thing. What does it mean to forgive ourselves? Should we forgive ourselves? How can we?
I was humbled last night. I don’t know whether to make this post a family post because it had to do with my relationship with my kids or to make it about our individual spiritual lives because it taught me about my relationship with God. I’ll just tell you the story and let you draw your own conclusions.
Today’s Bible reading over at giveattentiontoreading.com really hit me about how I deal with my family.
The verse that really got me was Hebrews 5:2, “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” The Hebrew writer was talking about the Old Covenant priests who had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well as for the people. They could deal gently with others because they recognize their own weaknesses.
That hit me regarding my preaching and relationships with brethren. But it also made me think about my wife and kids. It really struck me that usually I’m most harsh with my wife and kids if they are making a mistake I have made. I think in some ways I can get really harsh because I can trick myself into thinking I’m better than I am. If I come down really hard on them about the issue that means I’m not soft on the issue with them and really I have a good handle on it. I can make myself feel better than them by really letting them have it.
Interestingly, the Bible says my own weaknesses should have the exact opposite affect. Instead of my weaknesses making me more harsh with my family, they ought to help me address my family with gentleness.
This is especially true with my children. How often I see them make my mistakes and out of the noble desire to protect them from the consequences I’ve had to face I start getting mean, harsh, controlling, and even manipulative. In my mind, it is about protecting and preserving them. That seems noble enough. One of the things I’m learning is that when I’m mean, harsh, or controlling, I usually just push my kids to keep making the same mistakes. When I approach them with gentleness, recognizing my own weaknesses, even leading with my weaknesses, that seems to help them a whole lot more.
I’m making a personal commitment today. Before I start getting on to my kids for anything, I want to first think about my own weaknesses. I want to remember that I am beset with weakness. That way, when I deal with their weaknesses, I can do so with the proper spirit.
Have a great week and remember that God’s way works with our families.
Let’s face it, we are people in our families. That means we mess up. We make mistakes. We sin against each other. We do wrong. When that is the case, what should we do next?
But let me encourage you to do more than simply say I’m sorry. It is so easy to say, “I’m sorry,” and not consider what we mean. For what are we sorry? Are we sorry we got caught? Are we sorry they didn’t like what we did? Are we sorry if it upset them? Are we sorry they are mad at us?
Instead of justing saying, “I’m sorry,” take personal responsibility. Consider some other things you can say that really drive home what you ought to be meaning:
- “What I did was wrong.”
- “I had no right to do what I did.”
- “There is no justification for the way I acted.”
- “I shouldn’t have done that, I won’t do that again.”
You get the idea that this is more than just rolling off a trite phrase. This is about recognizing we did something wrong no matter how the person we are apologizing to has acted.
Further, if we have done wrong, we have driven a wedge in the relationship and it needs to be reconciled. But that can only happen if the person you wronged is willing to offer you mercy. Therefore, don’t just say, “I’m sorry.” Ask them to reconcile the relationship. “Will you forgive me?”
But remember two things about this. First, when you are asking for forgiveness you are saying you sinned. You didn’t just make a mistake. You didn’t just flub up. You sinned. Therefore, asking for forgiveness must not become another trite phrase to just try to cover up what you did. Second, you are asking for mercy. You can’t ask for forgiveness and then demand it be done. If the person owed it to you, then it wouldn’t be mercy.
“Oh, but Edwin,” someone cries, “God commands that they forgive me.” It is true that God’s children are called to forgive. But that is something they owe God. It is not something they owe you. You are not the one to get to make that demand on them. They don’t owe you anything.
Is there anything in any of your family relationships that has driven a wedge between you? Why not step up to the plate, take your personal responsibility, apologize for your wrong, and seek forgiveness. Don’t get distracted by what they did to you, clean up your side of the street.
I ran across this video the other day and thought I would share. There is only one way to keep the rug from being pulled out from under you. I know this should probably be a Monday post, but I didn’t want to wait until then.
Can you guess what it is?