“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1 (NIV)
I’ve been hurt by mean girls. I’ve also been a mean girl myself.
Ironically, my season of meanness overlapped with a season of being treated with meanness — and all this happened at church, no less. You would think I would have known better after enduring the deep hurt of being criticized and rejected by a fellow church member. But the unholy desire to judge and condemn other sisters resided in me, too.
When I was hurt by a woman in my church small group, I handled my feelings the wrong way. Foolishly, I emailed the entire group Matthew 18:15-17 as instruction on how to share opinions without gossiping, though I was doing the opposite of verse 15 when I sent it: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you” (Matthew 18:15a, NIV). I sought forgiveness for my wrongs, but I had hurt others’ feelings. The relationship never fully recovered.
Shortly after that painful experience, I was serving at vacation Bible school. Due to my own closed-mindedness, I shared careless and critical words with a fellow team member. Though I tried to apologize to her through words and actions, that relationship never fully recovered.
After these two situations, I had some choices to make. On one hand, I could condemn myself for acting like a mean girl and hold a grudge against the person who had been a mean girl to me. On the other hand, I could seek God’s grace while I showed my past offender the same kind of grace.
The principle that helped me receive God’s grace for myself and others is in this verse:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1)
We all have the potential to act like mean girls because sinful desires battle within us. It’s so tempting for us to get caught up in fights and quarrels, even in church, because our sinful natures don’t get turned off when we open the sanctuary doors.
When I admitted I had harbored a desire to quarrel with other women because I thought I was right in my own eyes, my denial was broken, and healing began. I needed to open my heart to receive God’s grace after confessing my sin.
By receiving His grace for myself, I had a fresh batch of grace to pour over the hurts other mean girls caused in me. I saw that I was no different from them as they desired to quarrel because they felt right in their own eyes. Though reconciliation was sometimes not possible, I could forgive and be forgiven by others and wish them well thanks to God’s grace at work in my heart. (Romans 12:18)
Have you been hurt by a mean girl? Have you possibly been a mean girl yourself? I pray today that you’ll accept the perfect grace only God can give and pour it over your situation. I pray that if you’ve experienced church hurt, God will heal you, and your hurt will not keep you from going to church again. Also, I pray that if you have been convicted by today’s devotion, you will seek grace from God and choose a new path forward.
Dear Jesus, when people are mean to one another, it is so painful. Whether I’ve received it or dished it out, I know how much hurt it causes. May I not fight and quarrel with others due to my sinful desires. May I show Your grace to those who have hurt me. Help me be grace-filled in all my relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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2 Timothy 2:24, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (NIV)
Have you been hurt by a mean girl? Have you hurt others as a mean girl? What has God taught you through your experience? Share your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments.
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