Psalm 119:165 has been circling my mind for awhile. As I have “chewed” on it, it seems like each article I read, each Facebook post I see, and each tweet that scrolls through my feed needs to be processed in light of this verse. I love the word offend here in the KJV because we understand it – we get offended about everything currently. Each day, more and more people of every size, shape, skin color, variation, denomination, school of thought, Christian, non-Christian and beyond have been offended by something. Each day, I shake my head and grieve over the direction that our nation’s culture, and the cultures of the world seem to be declining right before my eyes. Yet what grieves me most is what we choose to get vocal about. I’m not sure I really understand why we must get up in arms over every slight and wrongdoing, and let's face it there are many. But this doesn't stop us from raising the rhetoric and we love it when others join in with us. I do understand that the bigger picture of this verse that's brought out in the other translations is the idea of not having something that makes us “stumble”. Well, frankly, that works too…if I am following so closely after God, then nothing will make me stumble that people can do or say. And in today’s world that promise is vital to my character and my comportment.
There seems to be a generation that has missed out on some important training. Not schooling, but disciplines of good living -how to be productive citizens and good people. I do understand that our world apart from God will never be “good” but behaving with maturity has always been a sign of leaving adolescence behind and embracing adulthood. Something that we understood culturally was important for adolescents to embrace. Yet there are entire groups of people who seem to have never been taught these things.
I have always expressed to my children that our number one goal is “to love God and love others.” That was it – nothing additional – that has been and is our theme each year. We have worked hard to keep it simple and to keep the main thing, the main thing. This is so hard some days. Our family wears many hats, and stays on the go. Having something singular to focus on helps sometimes when the good things try to crowd out the best.
The second lesson, we have worked on through the years is to believe the best about others. When there are hurt feelings from actions or words – believing that the other person didn’t intend to hurt us almost always insulates us from bitterness. This is certainly an ongoing lesson, because our human nature would rather not let things go. We instantly believe that someone intended to hurt us not the other way around.
And finally, the third lesson has to be that we don’t have to be offended at everything that happens to us. We don't have to be offended at the words people say, or the things people do. We are all human, we are all capable of doing and saying the wrong thing at any given moment on any given day. Instead, we have the right to choose to let it go and choose joy and happiness instead. Loving others many times requires for us to put our needs and our desires secondary. And certainly loving God the right way requires for us to lower ourselves – John 3:30 - "He must increase, but I must decrease."
In our world it seems more and more difficult to decide the best way to continue to be the light that we are called to be. Do we stand quietly on the foundation of God's Word, being ready to always give an account of our changed lives to those who ask it of us or do we fight for our rights, and our beliefs and our opinions at every turn. Do we run to help those who don't look like us, act like us or think like us, so that we can demonstrate mercy and the love of Christ, or we do stand by and yell indignantly about the state of collapse around us while doing nothing about it. While I don't believe that we should be a people who do nothing - far from it, we need to be people of action. But I would like to see more of us demonstrating the POWER that lies within us, by working to reach the lost world for Christ. I would like to see us become indignant or outraged over the loss of lives each second of every minute of every day to a Christless eternity. We seem to lose our passion and our voice when it comes to proclaiming the Good News, but we sure can argue and get irate over the current issues of the day. Distraction seems to be the winning tool in the Devil's toolbox and we are falling for it hook, line and sinker.
Let the change start in me..will you join me - let's keep the main thing the main thing!
“ We are to praise God even for afflictions; through grace we get good from them. Those that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer what they expect; those that love God's word have great peace, for it outdoes what they expect.”