“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” 1 John 2:3 (NIV)
Do you ever experience times where you know what you’re saying is wrong, but you say it anyway? Especially when you believe it’s justified? I’ve had those days.
While at a social event one night, I observed one of our local Bible study leaders engaging in behavior that shocked me. My stomach churned in a mix of grief and anger. Her blatant disobedience to what she knew was right left me frustrated and angry.
Righteous anger. The kind God allows, right? Ever experienced it? That justifiable anger that rises up when you know someone is not acting the way God instructs. That anger Jesus expressed when He walked into the Temple and found the moneychangers doing their business in God's house, defiling its holy ground.
Righteous anger is a good thing. However, what we do with that anger is another matter.
Rather than going directly to the leader, I shared my feelings with a few other leaders at dinner one night. Was I gossiping? In the moment, I didn’t think so. In fact, I felt justified since she’d engaged in ungodly behavior that not only reflected badly on her, but on our Bible study and our church.
Our dinner conversation validated my feelings because the other leaders agreed. I took comfort in how good it felt that I wasn’t alone.
However, the next morning, as I sat in church, God spoke directly to my “righteous” anger. Our pastor spoke about idle gossip, character assassination and how our words matter.
Each word penetrated my heart like a double-edged sword.
I, too, was a spiritual leader. And I, too, had flagrantly disobeyed God's Word as I judged my friend and leader in the presence of others. Righteous anger? Not quite.
Idle gossip? Yes. Character assassination? Sadly, yes.
In the quietness of that moment, I felt conviction.
Not shame. Not condemnation. But conviction. Necessary conviction.
The distinction is significant. Oftentimes, shame and condemnation can be self-focused, unproductive emotions that leave us stagnant, in a bad place with God and others.
Conviction, on the other hand, is God-focused and productive. It’s spurred on by the Holy Spirit to point out our sin, speak truth into our hearts and empower us to change so we live in a way that’s pleasing to Him.
That day in worship, God reminded me of a truth that I have now committed to memory.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).
I promised the Lord that morning that I would walk in obedience … that I would keep His commands and honor His Word. As we see in 1 John 2:3, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.”
Within each of us lie weaknesses — temptations that cause us to struggle.
The key is the ability to recognize our weaknesses and temptations. If we can’t recognize them, we certainly can’t address them or properly fight our enemy, the devil. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that’s hard for me — especially when I feel I can justify my sin.
The moment we invite Christ into our hearts, we’re "born again." These two words sometimes carry a negative connotation in the world, when in reality it’s the best news ever! It’s more than a fresh start or a new beginning. It's a rebirth. The old is gone and the new has come. We receive a new nature, a new heart, a new name and a new lineage.
The more we expose our hearts to God's heart and His Word, the more He renews our minds. Our renewed minds view the world through an entirely new lens. That healthy perspective leads to life transformation. We begin to think and act differently.
Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, the inward changes eventually translate into outward changes. Our transformed hearts and God’s love for us leads us to speak and respond in completely new ways that enable us to honor and glorify God in every area of our lives.
Thank You, Father, for convicting my heart. I will give my best efforts to hold my tongue and only speak words that will build others up and benefit those listening. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 7:10, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (NASB)
Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)
Looking for practical ways to read your Bible more in the new year? Our Online Bible Studies team is studying the book of 1 John with Wendy Blight’s new study, I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God’s Love. We are an authentic community full of women who understand how crazy life can be, and we believe Bible study should be life-giving and judgment-free. If you’d like to find out more about our upcoming study, or have questions about Online Bible Studies, click here.
Join Wendy for 5 Days to Walking in the Fullness of God’s Love, a free devotional and sneak peek into her new study, I Am Loved. Sign up here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Does your “old” nature rule over you more than your “new” nature? If so, prayerfully consider why and ask the Lord to help you take step(s) toward changing the balance of power. As you take these steps, pray today’s Truth for Today verses over your heart and mind.
© 2018 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.