Stop trying to hit a ball that’s not in your court

Have you ever made somebody angry? Whether you intended to or not, you hurt someone. What do you do? How do you handle it?

Well, if you’re a Christ-follower, you should take responsibility and ask forgiveness. Period. There’s no hemming and hawing. There’s no rationalization. There’s no trying to get out of it. At least, there shouldn’t be. Own what you did and ask forgiveness.

But what happens if the person you hurt won’t forgive you? What happens if they see your action as unforgivable? What if, despite your trying to make amends to the best of your ability, they still want to hurt you?

bird-sparrowToday’s verses are Matthew 10:26-31.

But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

We live in a difficult world. Hurting people hurt people. That’s just the way it works, and often times we get caught in the middle. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, you will hurt the people around you. And the world has gotten so small that you can hurt someone you don’t even know.

The number one thing to remember is that you should never ever automatically assume you are in the right. You’re a flawed, broken human being, and you could be wrong. Granted, sometimes you aren’t. Sometimes your actions are justified. Sometimes your choices were the right ones. But not always. And you should never assume that you are blameless, because it’s rarely the case.

When there is blame to be cast, accept it. Don’t shrug it off. Look it in the face and don’t flinch. And do what you can to mend fences (within reason). But once you’ve done your part, step back.

It’s important to understand that not everyone will forgive you. And, this is the part that kills me, not everyone will like you. Some people will just dislike you for no reason you can fix. And even if you do everything in your power to make them like you, they still might not.

Ultimately, following Christ isn’t about whether people like you or not. Following Christ is about living a life that honors Jesus. As much as possible, we’re to live peacefully with people around us, but that won’t be possible in every situation.

You can’t live your life in fear of what people may do to you. Maybe another person is holding something against you, but you can’t control them. You aren’t their Holy Spirit, and they have to make the choice to take their hurt to Jesus instead of piling it all on you. All you can do is humbly ask forgiveness, decide not to repeat your actions, and then get on with your life.

In the end, just remember that God isn’t blind. He knows more about your situation than you do, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on. He cares about you. He cares about your problems. He cares about your losses. And if He notices when a sparrow falls, you can be sure your troubles won’t go unnoticed.

Have you done everything you can to make peace? Have you done all God asks to resolve the conflict? Then move forward. The ball isn’t in your court anymore, so stop trying to hit it. God sees the truth, and He’ll work out the details in a way that’s better and more beneficial for both sides. What we have to do is to learn to live without resentment.

Don’t be afraid of what people can do to your body or your finances or your possessions. Everything you have is a gift from God anyway. If it’s taken from you in a way you feel isn’t fair, just trust that the Lord will restore it. You might find out that you didn’t need it as much as you thought in the first place .

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The barn at Safe Haven Farm

Don’t build a bigger barn

Probably my favorite musical of all time is The Fiddler on the Roof. I loved it as a child before I really understood what it was about, and I love it as an adult now because of the music, because of the history, because of the characters, because of the setting. It’s a brilliant, beautiful story, and I’m super excited that Music Theatre of Wichita will be performing it this summer. Tevye, the main character, wants to be wealthy. And that’s what I thought of today when I read this morning’s verse.

The barn at Safe Haven Farm

The barn at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Luke 12:15.

Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

This is Jesus talking. This statement comes from the Parable of the Rich Fool. You can find it in Luke 12:13-21. It’s a story Jesus told about a man who lived on a very fertile farm that produced a lot of crops. And so he decided that he would build more barns and store all of his grain and be wealthy so he didn’t have to work anymore. This is also where we get the phrase, “Eat, drink and be merry!” because that’s what he told himself he would do. However, just after the man accomplishes all of this, he dies. And everything he worked for was for nothing because he couldn’t take it with him.

It’s very tempting to want to measure the worth of our lives by our possessions because possessions are easy to value. You can get to thinking that you are wealthy because you have so much money or so much land or so much of this or so much of that. And when you think that you are wealthy because of those things, it’s easy to rely on them.

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. The Bible says repeatedly, not only in statements but also in concept, that it’s the love of money that is evil. It’s loving money more than God that is dangerous and leads to sin. It’s not money itself. Money is a tool to be used to help bring more people to Christ. But we have a difficult time looking at money that way.

Going back to Tevye from The Fiddler on the Roof, he wanted to be a wealthy man because he didn’t want to have to work anymore. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but what’s more important? Seeking wealth or treasuring the wealth you already have?

Most of us are more wealthy than the richest king in the world. If you live in the United States or if you live in a developed nation — or if you have your health — or if you have a family — you are wealthy. Maybe not in terms of possessions or in terms of your bank account, but if you have food to eat and a roof over your head, you are already better off than many other people in the world. And if you have a car to drive? That sort of wealth puts you in the top percentile of the world.

And, as my awesome Pastor likes to say, King Solomon was the richest person to ever exist, and he’d never had a hot fudge sundae. Think about that.

We. Are. Wealthy.

And where has it gotten us? We focus on money until we can’t see anything else. We focus on obtaining riches so we can live a comfortable life. Well, I don’t know if we were necessarily meant to live a comfortable life here. Yes, it’s good to take care of our families. Yes, it’s good to have a roof over your head. But spending the exorbitant amount of money we do on our things? On possessions that won’t last and do nothing to reach into eternity? Is that what we’re supposed to do? Is that how we’re supposed to use our money?

Build bigger barns? Eat, drink and be merry?

I don’t think so.

If you have money, don’t love it; use it. And do as Christ says. Don’t measure the worth of your life by what you own because when your life on earth is over, you won’t have your possessions anymore. What you’ll take with you into eternity are your good works and your heart. And if you spent all your time on earth pursuing money and wealth and fame, those things will burn to ashes because they’re made of nothing more substantial than straw.

But if you leverage your resources to do good for others who can’t do good back to you, if you spend your time and your effort helping the less fortunate, if you sacrifice to see that the things God is doing are done well, those things will last.

Don’t build a bigger barn. Fill up the one you have and give the rest away. That’s more than wealth. That’s how God wants us to live.