Sunday, September 30, 2012

Relationships that hinder joy

I had promised a revisit two posts ago, and here it is.

How can we be unruffled when there are schedules to keep, money problems, world terrors?  There is so much to derail us!~  Today, we will deal with our relationships to others.

Self-seeking, pride and fear cause trouble in our relationships (James 4:1-3).

This happens on a personal level.  We give to children, friends, our spouse, and friends, and they don't respond in thankfulness, but rather despise or gift or take advantage of it.  We are doing battle financially, in the limits of time, in relationships ,to protect and provide for our loved ones.  We are focus on making sure they have what they need in abundance.  And somehow it's hard to discern that it is all about them...or all about us.

 And even those we are trying to benefit don't cooperate.  In fact, they seem to sabotage our efforts.  We are afraid that our husbands won't be respected, our children won't be accepted, we won't be successful. In this day, we are vaguely afraid that somehow we will be the next homeless statistic standing in the food pantry line. 

Those we love cross us, mess up our agendas, have expectations we didn't figure in.  We want our time, our stuff and our reputations protected and promoted.  And when our desires for pleasure, whether they are in terms of pleasures that appeal to our physical senses, or things  which are a little less defined as our reputations, recognition, appreciation, or  sense of accomplishment are hindered or  damaged, we react in harshness.  Many times, honestly, out of fear.  We believe if we do not have these things, we will feel lost, hopeless and worthless.  Our idols again revealed.  They must be crushed, discarded.  And our true God trusted.

  Eric Ludy suggests that
"Gentleness is softness when struck with hardness, mildness with hit with harshness, and a gentle word when belted with a spiteful word.  Gentleness is the divine control and governance over  the inner man, holding the flesh in check that it not be given voice or strength in the matter..." 

Mr. Ludy admits that, outside of Christ we cannot respond like this.

This time paraphrasing Eric Ludy:

We seek God's mercy and kindness but we are unwilling to show mercy and grace to others.   Who is the worse perpetrator...ours to God or theirs to us?  We deserve hell.  They deserve a slap on the wrist, yet we will hold back gentleness and mercy from them.We will judge them and condemn them.   We will expect gentleness and mercy of God.  To the same measure you are willing to be a flow-through channel for the behavior of the Father and the grace of God that is bequeathed to you God responds to you    I desire my God to be gentle with me  and long suffering and gentle with me. Which demands the I become a flow-through channel of his gentleness and mercy to others. 

Other times we are cruelly attacked, lied about, or ignored.  Yet we are to respond, as Eric Ludy says, with the "featherduster" of gentleness.  In truth, this gentleness,which Jesus exhibited, is great strength.

How.  The horrible, demanding question.

We trust.  In God.  No matter the circumstances, we trust His character when the circumstances are painful, unclear, even unimaginable occurs, we know we can trust Him.  It is essential that we and our children are grounded firmly in His character, so whether the trial is great or small, our hope is truly in Him.

Also with Elyse Fitzpatrick, we recognize that:
"We are more sinful and flawed that we ever dared believe; we are more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope. In light of this, we're to put off all the unbelief and self-love that motivated our former identity."

And we can rejoice.

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