November was a month that was filled with blessings (although I admit to being a wee bit exhausted at the end of it). Thanks to the prayers and generosity of many who allowed God to work through them, my Kickstarter for THE BOOK OF RUTH was more than 100% funded when it ended. Through that entire process I could feel God’s hand, working, reaching out and putting it in front of the people who needed to see it, speaking to their hearts. And for me it was definitely an exercise in trust, and the power of faith. There were many times I just had to “step back and let God”. And there were so many people who lifted me up with words of encouragement and prayers. God is good. And I want to say thank you again, to everyone who shared and supported RUTH.
You might be asking yourself if I’m feeling so blessed, why the title of today’s blog post is about bitterness. Let me explain. As often as we revel in God’s blessings in our lives, we are just as often tempted by sin. This past week, within my community of faith, I have been wrestling with a situation. I found myself being pushed out of a role that I had taken pride in. A role that I enjoyed and looked forward to doing. And I wasn’t happy about it. In fact, I was very hurt. I don’t know if the people involved even considered my feelings, I would even say that it didn’t cross their minds that I might be upset. They just did what it was that they wanted to do.
This was a situation in which, while I didn’t feel it was necessary to take a stand and try to get my way, my first instinct was to step back. To no longer participate in that particular group. As Dave puts it “to take my ball and go home.” But I also spent time and prayed about it. I asked God for help, because I wasn’t 100% convinced that my first response was the correct one. There were other people outside of the situation that needed to be considered. Maybe stepping away was the right thing, but maybe this wasn’t the right way to do it, or the right emotional mindset to be making that decision in. And thankfully I had a week in which to make that decision.
It’s very easy to assign reasons and emotions to the actions of others, but it can be much harder to look at our own motivations. I will say, however that I instantly recognized that pride was a part of the equation from my side. I took pride in doing this particular job. But maybe someone else needed to feel that pride more than I did. I have found so many places in my life to share my faith, am I so greedy as to not be able to share the spotlight? And stepping out completely also meant stepping away from those who needed someone to advocate for them.
I have continued to bring this situation and specifically my feelings about it before God this week and today this was the passage I read.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see God. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14.
If we, as children of God, seek to live holy lives, lives that emulate the life of Christ, then I have to consider His response to every situation – to this situation. I know Christ would step aside graciously, and throw His support completely behind this peer. And I know that is what God wants for me. I can’t allow bitterness to take root in my heart and cause trouble. I think this is why pride is such a subtle and dangerous sin. But if Jesus could scorn the shame of the cross, then I can certainly give up my pride and help someone have their own chance at ministering to others and being proud.
If there is a place in your life where you have a similar situation, or are finding pride is damaging a relationship, I encourage you to bring it before God and allow his healing power to change your heart just as he changed mine.