My 10 month old son crys when I take a small object away from him, or remove him from the dishwasher because there are knives he could get. Babies throw tantrums, because they want something. They think you are being mean when you take it away, eventhough you are doing it for their protection. As the relationship grows they learn to trust you, and they know you love them. They mature and understand that you are protecting them from harm.
It is the same when we are spiritually immature. Spiritual babies think God gave us a bunch of rules to keep us from having fun. We think it is ridiculous when God tells us to forgive somebody, or do something nice for someone who hurt us. Often we act like a todder and dig our heels in refusing to obey. Why should we have to be nice, when he was the one who was wrong? Why doesn’t God have him do something nice for me to make up for his behavior?
As we grow in our relationship we learn to trust God, because we become confident of his love for us. Mature believers know that God loves them. They believe God has something good in store for them no matter how it feels to obey, or whether or not it makes sense. It is hard to give people what they don’t deserve. Isn’t this enabling bad behavior? Doesn’t this teach them they can treat us how ever they want?
A couple months ago my hairspray dissapeared. My mom uses the exact same hairspray and she always carries it in her purse. I thought she probably used mine and then stuck it in her purse thinking it was hers. I wasn’t mad, but I didn’t want to go buy another can if she had mine. So when she came over to watch the kids, I asked her if she had an extra can because I couldn’t find mine. She was offended to say the least. I came home that night to a rude note saying “I shouldn’t accuse my mother of stealing”, along with a can of hairspray that wasn’t mine. I was livid. I never accused her of stealing, and now she was accusing me of accusing her of stealing. So I lost my temper and yelled at her as she was leaving, “Your easily offended and overly sensitve and it’s not my fault you got mad when I asked you a simple question”.
While what I said was true, the delivery was wrong. I could have not talked to her for a month, because I was so mad. I started thinking of a bunch of other times when the same thing happened. I was telling God how unfair it was to have to walk on eggshells. The next morning God told me to call and apologize. But I hardly did anything wrong, and she did all these things. I was proving she was right if I called her. I didn’t want to do it. I thought it would about kill me. So I did it fast, before I could talk myself out of it. I made sure she knew it I was only apologizing for yelling and nothing else.
I didn’t obey because I am a good christian, or I’m so spiritual. I did it because I know he loves me, and if he wants me to do something it is for my own good. God knows a humble attitude leads to tremendous blessing. It is bondage to be controlled by how someone else treats us. We will never be Christ like if we are only willing to treat others a little better than they treat us. We have to treat others as the valuable people God sees them as. Hurting people are the most hurtful people, and that is who Christians are called to love. We say, “They hurt me, so I am going to disobey God to teach them a lesson. After all this is good for them. It will cause them to grow and learn about consequences.”
We can never change another person, and it is not our job to. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. It is our job to draw them to the Holy Spirit. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Rom. 2:4)” God draws us to himself through his patience and kindness, and that is how we are to draw people to him as well.
We are free when we can do what is right and give people what they don’t deserve, because we know God has something better in store for us. It feels like we might die when we crucify our pride. It is when we kill this part of us, that we can truly live. Freedom costs us everything. The reward is well worth the expense.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6