As Christians, slogans such as ‘What would Jesus do?’ encourage us to be Christlike. I don’t know about you, but I have moments I wish I could press the pause button and candidly ‘deal with’ (putting it politely) the person who is taking liberties or, as we used to say in school, “taking the berties”.
Grappling With Life’s Moments
I am all for extending grace and compassion to others; we’re all human and will rub each other up the wrong way. I know I need the same love, grace and compassion doled out to me too, because I am still a work in progress.
In my journey, I have come across folk who just seem hellbent on testing our limits, time after time. A married friend of mine told me how they were sick and tired of always being the one to extend the olive branch after a marital row. I know of an exasperated mother living in fear of the constant violence, bullying and threats of her teenage son towards her and the rest of the family. I recall the countless times I have experienced the inconsiderate and hurtful actions of others. Honestly, in the heat of the moment, considering what Jesus would do is far from my mind.
Yet, in spite of how others may make us feel, we are compelled to be like Christ. No excuses!
So, what is an ‘I’m-trying-to-be-Christlike’ Christian supposed to do?
Now, just before you dole out 101 Scriptures to me, I don’t believe our issues arise for lack of knowing the Word (albeit the case for some). Our issue, this side of eternity, is practising the teachings of Christ, for example by laying aside our grievances, sense of injustice and feelings, whilst daily taking up our cross even when faced with constant, unrepentant folk. This, dear Reader, is where our challenge lies. Whilst it may feel difficult to press on, it is possible, as I outline in my book, Quit Hiding, Start Living! (Ask me why I wrote the book!)
Whilst ‘Just bind the devil’ may be a good starting point, we still have a few more steps to take.
What does God say?
Matthew 18:15-35 has a shedload of wisdom on dealing with relationships. The bottom line is we must learn to forgive others, but this doesn’t mean that turning the other cheek is allowing others to abuse us. In fact, I encourage people to deal with their heart matters AND put boundaries in place. Alongside this, wear your whole armour daily (trust me, you WILL need it) and ask the Holy Spirit to give you specific guidance on the specific situation you are facing. (PS: He does speak to us!) This is how we become more Christlike – it’s a process.
Handling ‘Liberty Takers’
We don’t have ‘forgiveness’ buttons, chips to install or apps to download into our brains, so we have to open up our hearts and allow Father access. For some, this can be the hardest part, but here are some practical steps I have learnt along the way that have helped me a great deal:
- I bring my hurt, pain, unforgiveness, etc to God. I do NOT hide anything. I let Father know how the situation is affecting me.
- I state my case, by telling God how the person hurt me. Opening up and sharing with Father works a treat. It really is good to talk.
- I ask for forgiveness, by repenting of my role in the situation, consciously or not. Also, I repent for my sinful response to the person’s actions towards me. (I might have judged them or secretly hoped they face God’s wrath and got taught a lesson.)
- I ask for grace. I ask for a dollop of what Jesus had when, despite being on the Cross to save humanity, onlookers were still ‘taking the berties’ by taunting Him. Here, we see Jesus Christ turn the other cheek and even ask God to forgive them. Now that’s where we need to be.
- I ask for guidance on how to handle the situation and move on. Father always knows the best solution, so I do a ‘Proverbs 3:5-6’ and wait for direction. Once I get it, I obey – regardless of how hard it may be.
My intention hasn’t been to minimise the real hurt people struggle with daily, but the bottom line is we have to forgive others and guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). We can’t afford to let someone trip us up, get entangled with offense and miss Heaven (2 Corinthinas 9:26-27). No one is worth that! So I’m protecting my heart and I suggest you do the same.
For now, I have a situation to face, and I will be implementing the above five steps, knowing full well that I can do all things and that the Holy Spirit will help me turn my cheek, forgive others and release them from my heart.
Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo, author of: Quit Hiding, Start Living!; Overcoming Emotional Baggage; Healing A Discouraged Heart, and Bounce Back! For more info, visit www.gladysf.com.