Today, on my Examiner page, I wrote an article on righteousness. Being right with God, not just in my own eyes. This theme appeared in both my prayer guide and my Bible study (which I try and do back to back) this morning. It was a little alarming because usually when that happens, I feel a spiritual and emotional earthquake. The Lord did not disappoint.
My current Bible Study is Priscilla Shirer's Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. I tell you what, that woman can preach. Even in the written word, she was posing questions today that hit straight to the heart.
I did day 1 of week 2 and it was exploring why Jonah (and we) choose to disobey God. Jonah was a big patriot, to Israel, not God as it turned out. Shirer asks the question if we ever felt justified in choosing not to obey God.
My answer - yes.
Then she asks us to end the lesson by "honestly considering to what you have pledged allegiance." Now, I like to think of myself as being all in for God. But the combo of these 2 questions and the Scripture from Matthew 5:6 that talks about righteousness led the Holy Spirit to convict me to explore how I respond to situations when people show a lack of respect to me.
Situations started flowing through my mind - most of which were me reacting in a way that I felt justified, at least for a time, in withholding forgiveness and not owning up to my own bad actions. I get there eventually, but fight it tooth and nail for awhile.
There have been two times in the last 7 years where I have reacted by planting my face on the floor and giving the situation up to God. I did not retaliate, whether that was in anger, gossip or nursing a grudge. I share this not to tout my own hyper-spirituality, but because I was shown that in those two times I grew in my faith and trust in The Lord immensely. Even more so than some of my mountaintop experiences. In fact, the first time was the catalyst for coming back The Lord.
The Holy Spirit showing me those two times contrasted with the millions of other times (including when I am deeply offended by my children's disobedience) how desperately I cling to being right - to being treated the way I THINK I DESERVE.
Matthew 5:11 makes it clear though. Those who seek God's righteousness are to expect insult and injury. It is a "when not if" scenario Jesus gives us.
We are to give praise and thanks in all situations, not just the warm fuzzy ones. And we should expect to give praise and thanks especially when we are being slandered because we follow Jesus. Both times I grew as a result of insult, I was being slandered for Christ in me, not just me.
Coincidence? I think not.
This inclines me to change. I expect The Lord and the enemy both to present me multiple opportunities to put my new knowledge into practice. :)
So, pray for me?
Pray I will stand firm and be a light, even when my family, friends and church members might speak ill of me. I hate being disrespected but I need to learn to give it over to The Lord. He is good, all the time, He is good so I need to trust in that!