Monday, March 27, 2017

Do You Seek Justice?

Justice is something that I think everyone desires and sees a need for to some extent, unfortunately
some care more about themselves than the injustice they are causing. It is in all of us to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, to cheer for the underdog, to be angered at those who take advantage of others. That is because God is just. It is part of His character, and He is just perfectly. We mirror that quality of God’s when we desire and fight for justice.

James 1:27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

We are called on by God to fight for the justice of others. But what if we want justice for ourselves? Oswald Chambers once said, “As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you...Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.”

Mark 8:34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Part of being a Christian is giving up your rights. That is what “taking up your cross” means. It means denying yourself, giving up your right to pleasure, sacrificing yourself for the sake of others. We are never supposed to be motivated by self.

1 Corinthians 10:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

That is to be our goal, our only motive, to glorify God. We are never to fight to defend ourselves, to fight for our rights for anything. That is self serving. When we suffer, we are to respond with grace, with love, just as Christ did. He was wrongfully arrested, brutally beaten beyond recognition, harassed, mocked and murdered. Yet through it all, He never got upset, He never spoke harshly, He never even defended Himself. He spoke respectfully to those who cursed Him, He forgave those who murdered and humiliated Him and begged God to do the same. That should be our model. Humble, loving submission to God’s will, and humble, loving respect to others regardless of how they treat us.

We need to resist the urge to see ourselves as a victim, even if we truly are. Remember that God is in control of everything that happens. You enter nothing without God’s knowledge, and nothing happens that He couldn’t stop. (see my post on suffering for more). When we see ourselves as the victim, we refuse any responsibility for what is happening, including our reaction to it. Of course, there are times when something happens that was in no way our fault (natural disasters for example) but we can still control our response to it. We can choose whether we will mope and feel sorry for ourselves, or whether we will choose to trust God, learn what He has for us, and move on in His guidance.

The victim mentality where you choose to feel sorry for yourself, or stay offended over what someone has done, keeps things from ever changing. You are forcibly causing your situation to stay as it is rather than allowing yourself and others to move on. You have no right to demand that others apologize or make amends. That is God’s job not yours. I know it is hard because it is something that I still struggle with myself, but I can also testify that difficult situations are harder to deal with if you remain in that mindset. It takes so much longer to get through them if you continue to focus on yourself and refuse to leave that pity party.

The victim mentality also prevents God’s blessings from reaching you. God has the power, ability, and desire to make good come from bad situations. That does not mean that was the reason for them happening, but He has promised that He can turn anything into good. The catch is that you have to submit yourself to God and allow Him to work in your life for Him to do it. If you see yourself as the victim, refuse to react in a Godly way, refuse to forgive, continue to feel sorry for yourself, you are preventing God from turning your situation into something good. There is the potential to experience incredible joy and growth in the midst of pain, but you have to be willing to seize it, to strive for it. You have to be willing to let go of your pain, let go of your pride, let go of your rights, leave your pity party and follow God. That is what you have to do if you want to see change.

You have to stop focusing on yourself and start focusing on God and others. The two greatest commands, the two that encompass all others, are to love God and love others. It says nothing about loving yourself. We were made to serve. The entire gospel of Mark has the main focus of seeing Jesus as the Servant King. He came to serve, not to be served. Are we greater than He that we refuse to serve? Believe me that the true path to healing comes through lifting your gaze, looking beyond your current circumstances, and focusing on others. It makes the burden lighter and gives a joy that you cannot find elsewhere.

Colossians 3:12-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

If we have been hurt by someone, we need to forgive them. Period. God forgave us when we had no right to be forgiven. We need to extend that to others. We need to do our part and leave the rest up to God. It is our responsibility to have compassion, to be humble and kind, to have patience, with others and with God. We have to submit to God’s plan and timing and trust Him. We have no justifiable excuse not to.

If you want to move beyond your present suffering, whatever it is, you have to surrender it to God, resist the urge to defend yourself, get out of your pit of despair. The victim mentality keeps you crippled, it prevents healing. Choose to move on. Choose to forgive. Choose to be healed. Don’t let your pain or situation define you.

“Lord remove from me the desire to be vindicated.” Saint Augustine.

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