It is cold this morning. There is a weather wind advisory. Its only November! I am so happy to be inside drinking hot coffee. I have been thinking about relationships this morning. Have you ever had a relationship where you have the best intentions and try to be kind and positive, yet another person still finds something wrong with you? I have.
I had a friend that used to constantly ask for favors, yet when I needed her, she was too busy. My friend was the type of person that was nice when she was talking to me, but she would twist my words around, select a phrase out of context and make-up lies when she was talking about me to other people, until the other people hated me. Even though I intend my words to be kind and positive, sometimes people will still not like what I say. Maybe there is something about me that she didn’t like, or I am not exactly like her, so she will never accept me as I am. I don’t know why my friend picked me to hurt. Some people just won’t like me. Some people want to hurt me. This is an unsettling truth. I used to get so upset about it. I would stay awake thinking about it, wondering why my friend would behave in this manner.
In the bible, in Acts, Paul and Barnabas are sharing the good news of Jesus. Many people became believers. Some of the people listening didn’t want to hear them or believe. Instead of walking away going about their business, they “stirred” up people and “poisoned their minds against the brothers”. The apostles had to endure criticism for doing God’s work. They would speak “so effectively” to create believers and then a few people would ruin some of their work and poison their minds. Paul and Barnabas would perform “signs and wonders”, yet the new believers minds were poisoned by a few that didn’t believe and divided the people. “Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” In biblical times, there were those people that chose to spend their time trying to destroy other peoples’ lives. It takes considerable time and effort to poison minds, yet this is what they did. Words are powerful. Words can divide us or uplift us. How do your words touch lives?
At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
–Acts 14:1-3 (NIV)
God is good. God doesn’t want others to mistreat us. People mistreat us anyway, especially if they are not actively seeking God. It has taken me a long time to realize, it is up to my friend to get right with God. She will not determine my friends or my place in life. God will. I am a child of God. I turn to God for approval. God wants what is best for me. There is no sneakiness or deceit with the Lord, there is only pure goodness. I find my strength in God to accept this truth and pray when its too much to handle. God will lift me up and get me through it.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
–Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
God is with each one of us, so we do not have to be afraid of how words will harm us. We do not have to be dismayed at how others behave. God will provide us with strength and help us through every earthly problem and situation. God will not only help us, God will “uphold” us. God will lift us up above earthly problems and give us the strength to endure lies, deceit and bad intentions. God will protect us. It was painful to accept that people will talk bad about me and make up lies about me. I cannot understand it. My dad used to aways tell me not to worry about what other people think or say about me. I was never strong enough to do this on my own. With God, I found strength to do this through prayer. Now, I turn to God to pray about relationships. God will protect our hearts, so others cannot harm us.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
–Psalm 86:15 (NIV)
People can let you down. God won’t. God is compassionate and gracious. God is slow to anger. God has boundless love for us. God loves my friend too. God loves each of us. We don’t need to compete or put others down, God has enough love for every person. The words of others do not define our value or worth. Each of us is worthy of God’s love.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
–Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
God loves each person on this earth. God created us, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God doesn’t make mistakes. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful”. Do not let the words of others define you or your life. God has better plans for you. God made you. Believe this truth, you are wonderful!
There is an inspiring song, “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathon David and Melissa Helser. The lyrics boldy proclaim “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God, From my mother’s womb, You have chosen me”.