There is a personal journal that some people keep, which can be referred to as “The Record of Wrongs.” It is a mental note that keeps track of those “who did me wrong.” The way the record keeper interacts with others filters through The Record of Wrongs. The relationship between the record keeper and those whose names are found in it, are already strained, if not severed. Those who are directly associated with the “perpetrators,” whether friends or family members, will find their names under the “accomplices” column. They will always be viewed from the point of suspicion. Record keepers will even resent or mistrust those they have never met before because they remind them of those who hurt them. While the journal may serve as some sort of defense mechanism, its keepers actually victimize themselves. One obvious way is that unforgiveness keeps the ink fresh on the pages, no matter how old the writing. That unforgiveness leads to bitterness and deep rooted anger, which have consequences as well. They are poison to the heart and soul, and can even affect the body because of prolonged use. We could call this record of wrongdoing, “The Book of Bitterness.”
Another trapping of this journal is fear. It not only impedes relationships because of trust issues, it can creep into other areas of life. Fear drastically affects the decision making process. Those who are fearful tend to make decisions that avoid pain or loss. If God Himself happens to be in The Record of Wrongs because they hold Him responsible for wrongs suffered, the fear of the unknown can be overpowering. Because record keepers do not fully trust God, they find it difficult to go into uncharted territory. For example, they may find it extremely difficult to take risks, even when minimized. Some have business ideas that have great potential, but they will never be implemented because they cannot get past the possibility of failure. Such ventures usually involve other people, and that in of itself stops the game before it can begin. The Record of Wrongs constantly reminds them that people cannot be trusted. This is only one example. Another title for it could be, “The Book of Fears.”
In most cases, there is an addendum in the back of the book. This is a record of personal failings. This section contributes to the way people view their selves, and influence what they hold to be true. In some cases, it trumps the Word of God. The more they read it, the less significant the Bible is in their lives. The more they embrace the words found in their personal record, the more they push God away. Every time they read it, they accuse themselves. That means they now have a minimum of two accusers: the devil and their conscience. The reason that some people struggle with being righteous before God in Christ Jesus is that they do not believe it is possible. As long as they keep reading the addendum, they will be plagued with guilt, shame and condemnation. Their decisions reflect their belief. Those who believe they are “failures” will never try to succeed. Those who cannot see beyond their past have difficulty believing God would or could use them. They never feel worthy, even if Jesus made them worthy. 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (KJV).
Some people highlight their failures, so they can reinforce their hypotheses about themselves. It is as if they have pet sins and failures. They use them to emphasize the lies that say, “My sins are greater than the Blood of Jesus and my failures are greater than the grace of God.” “My fear is greater than God’s love, even though perfect love casts out fear (see 1John 4:18). Highlighters can be wonderful tools, but they can also serve as weapons used against others and our selves. As long as we emphasize failure, we will overlook success. Remember, everyone who has failed, has also succeeded in something. We can forget our successes by overemphasizing our failures. Why do people do that?
One reason has to do with an upbringing that emphasizes failure. The environment they grew up in programmed their minds to think negatively. For example, some had parents who constantly point out their shortcomings. Instead of praising them for their accomplishments, they tell them how they could have done better. In essence, their parents told them that what ever they did was not good enough. Their default thinking became negative. They tend to believe our heavenly Father is the same way; hence, God the Father is also in The Record of Wrongs, whether they admit it or not.
It is very difficult to look to the future God has for us, if we constantly read about our past. It is time to burn The Record of Wrongs. It is time to become present-future orientated. We cannot afford to equate our present to the past. Some need to stop using it as “The Book of Qualifications,” because it is God Who qualifies you. If you use the book that way, perhaps it should be entitled, “The Book of Arrogance.”
Since God is Love (see 1John 4:16), examine some of the characteristics of love found in 1Corinthians 13. Charity (Love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth . . . (1Corinthians 13:4-8, KJV). God is for us, not against us!
Many of the decisions we make are based upon our beliefs. The commitment to those decisions often reflects the conviction behind them. In relation to God, what we believe about Him will determine how we respond to Him. Likewise, what we believe about ourselves influences the way we interact with Him. How we receive His Word and at what depth it takes root in us, affect our ability to endure hardship and whether we allow His righteousness to reign in our lives (see Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-18). If we pay attention to the daily decisions we make, we may be able to ascertain how committed we are to following Jesus. They may be a reflection of what we believe.
Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, KJV). If we believe Jesus truly is Lord of all, then we will deny the self the right to rule and completely surrender our will to Him and allow Him to rule. If a person does not believe Jesus is Lord, he will not surrender to Him. If a person only partially surrenders, there may be some trust issues. More than that, there may be some love issues, and often these are intertwined. For example, if a person does not believe God loves him, he will not trust Him. Obedience is also an indication of our love for God. 1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous (KJV). That means a person who will not obey Him, does not love Him. That is not to say if a person has an occasional act of disobedience, he or she does not love God. When disobedience arises, it is time to find out why. Sometimes the why will help a person come to full repentance. As we know, repentance means to think differently or have a change in the way we think, which results in the way we behave. Behavior modification is not repentance; it is restraint. When a person truly sees the error of his ways, godly sorrow will ensue. That may or may not include tears, but it will lead to change. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter (KJV).
Truthfully, much of our struggle has to do with the way we think and what we believe. If we truly believe we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (see 2Corinthians 5:21), will be able to walk righteously. If we believe what God says about us, we will conform to that belief. If, for example, we do not believe, we will have difficulty conforming to the image of Jesus at best. Behavior modification says, “I must be good in order to be righteous”; however, the Word says, “Jesus is good, therefore, I am righteous in Him.” As long as we try not to sin, we will sin because we are not walking by faith and we are minding the flesh (see Romans 8:1-13; 14:23). If we count the flesh as crucified with Christ, we will walk newness of life and sin will not have dominion over us (Romans 6:1-22). When our focus is walking righteously in Christ Jesus, our feet will not walk down the path of sin. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (KJV).
Need presents an opportunity for humility. When a person lacks in any given area, he may react and try to fill that need on his own, which may include acts of desperation. Another option would be to humble himself and ask for help. If people refuse to humble themselves when the need arises, they may find solutions that actually lead to more problems to solve. By trying to help themselves they can actually place themselves in desperate situations. In short, they can start out bad and end up even worse because their pride was their counselor. When people refuse to put things in God’s hand and place them in their own, they are already in trouble. The book of James makes it clear that that our starting point is God: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5, KJV). When we humble ourselves before Him, He is free to make whatever provision is necessary.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths (KJV). A very important thing to remember is that we cannot rely on our own understanding if we are going to gain from God’s understanding. There are times His solutions seem counterintuitive to our circumstances; nonetheless, He knows the end even before the beginning. He sees what lies ahead; do you? Often, our reality is upside down in comparison to His. For example, a person may lack financially. The first natural inclination would be to hold on to what a person has and somehow get more money by whatever means; but, the Lord may say, “Give out of your lack.” Reason says, “Once it’s gone, it is gone.” Kingdom says, “Give and it shall be given to you.” How many testimonies have we heard from those who gave and found their needs met?
When we ask God for wisdom, He may lead us to others who may have the solution. This presents an opportunity to kill self-reliance, which is born of pride. Sometimes it is easier to keep things “between God and me,” than to involve another. God’s solutions are often multifaceted. Meaning, He has more than one reason for what He leads us to do. While we might look to fill our need, He may be looking to use someone’s talents so He may be able to bless him or her in the process. He may use the situation to heal a strained relationship. In this case, it enables another the chance to extend mercy and receive healing as a result. Our Father is a Good Dad Who knows what His children need. His solutions to our circumstance are far reaching, and remedy more than one problem in a single move, even if it only prevents us from creating more problems.
Our inexperience can be a tool in the Master’s hand to shape us into mature sons and daughters. It may help us learn to honor one another properly. One example of this is that in a number of cultures, young people know how to honor their elders. Unfortunately, in other cultures, the youth have come to despise the aged. They fail to recognize that those who have lived long lives have valuable experiences beyond their own short lives. At the same time, when the younger go to the elder, they enrich the elder because it shows they are relevant in today’s society. While we are not designed to be needy, we are designed to need others and to be needed. When people feel unneeded or unwanted, they lose purpose for living. Those who seek to find their own solutions tend to take and hurt others in the process. When we reject other people’s help, we hinder their blessing from God. Nonetheless, God will open other doors to the willing, while closing doors to those who are not!
It is not a question of whether someone deserves to be in the family of God; it is a question of love (AGAPE). This type of love does not attach performance to acceptance. It embraces the individual apart from behavior, and blesses him or her for the joy of it. Because love takes joy in the recipient’s sake alone, he or she is free to love in return. There are no strings attached to such love. Our Father was not looking for a bunch of rule keepers when He sent Jesus into the world. He was looking for a relationship with humanity. He wanted His family back! While there are rules in His family, they are not burdensome to those who love Him because they are based on love (see 1John 5:3).
Unfortunately, a number of families have not modeled this pattern. Those who grew up in families that trade performance for love and affection have a difficult time with acceptance. They are so starved for attention and affirmation that they find it nearly impossible to receive love at face value. The idea that God loves them is foreign. The enemy of our souls plotted the destruction of families with this goal in mind: total separation between God and His children. He knows the sooner he can influence people’s belief systems, the easier it is to keep them from reconciling with the Father. One of his devises is destroying the belief that God loves us. For centuries, he attacked children, so when they grow up they will not be able to receive His love. The devil constantly whispers, “You don’t deserve God’s love. How can you be in His family?” Remember this: Love has nothing to do with your performance or your behavior!
Those who grew up in this dysfunction can break the cycle of performance for love. It begins with receiving God’s love. You cannot give what you do not have. The closest you can get to earn His love is doing it His way. That means you have to accept the fact you cannot earn His love. Humble yourself and receive it, then walk in it. As the Father’s love fills your heart, you will be able to extend it to others. There is so much freedom in love that it breaks the chains of bondage. The more you freely love others, the freer you will be. It begins with receiving it by His grace through faith. What motivated the Father to send His Son? Surely, it was your works and good behavior -not by a long shot! Romans 5:8 But God commendeth (clearly proves) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (KJV).
Love covers a multitude of sins (see 1Peter 4:8). It is high time for people to stop holding other’s sins against them. That is judgment, as well as unforgiveness and bitterness at work. Put away affection for hire. Parents, if you want your children to experience the Father’s love, then love them with no strings attached. Cultivate the environment of your house to emulate heaven and you will have a loving, godly home. Pronounce blessing in your household and let His blessings flow. The more judgmental you are, the more judgment you will experience. The more critical you are, the more criticism will fill your house. While discipline is necessary for everyone’s sake, apart from love it will have little or no benefit. That means correction must be bathed in love in order to have the right results. Which also means, you will correct your children with their wellbeing in mind; not to vent your anger and frustration. In fact, this principle applies to everyone, not just children. When we interact with one another, regardless of the relationship, we must speak the truth in love to each other. One of the rules of the family is that we love one another (see the Bible).
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (KJV).
Humility means to bring low, and it begins with denying the self the right to insert itself and ceasing from demanding to have one’s own way. It takes on the persona of a servant who gladly serves others for their sakes and ultimately for the Lord’s sake. Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (KJV). Humility does not seek a reputation, but those who seek to be recognized as humble are in fact seeking to have one. It goes along with the joke, “I take pride in my humility.” At the same time, humility does not deny one’s identity, nor does it pretend to be someone different. That means if a person tries to make himself less than he really is, that would be self-denial. It is not humility to say we are less than what God says we are. Worse still is when a person puts himself down because of a negative belief system. It shows a dim view of God since He makes people wonderful because He is wonderful. Everything He does reflects His nature. Humility does not seek to exalt itself; therefore, it would be false humility to “humble” oneself as a means to gain a higher position, as if humility is some sort of “spiritual tool.” That would be the opposite of “Deny himself.” It would be hypocrisy to pretend to be humble, when a person is pride-filled and desires to look the part. Self-exaltation strikes again! James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up (KJV).
Just like faith, humility requires love because it is outward focused (see Galatians 5:6). Since it gladly does things to benefit others, it takes joy in pleasing God. Humility surrenders the will to God and embraces His desires. Therefore, those who truly humble themselves before the Lord will wait on the Lord for promotion. Furthermore, they will allow God to decide what the promotion will be. They will not insert their idea of how they should be promoted. That means, they will not only allow God to define the promotion, but they will yield to the way He promotes them. The humble leave the method of promotion to the Lord. They will do nothing to bring it to pass by using their own means, especially if it employs manipulation. Humility walks by faith, which means the humble will wait on the proceeding Word of God before they make a move (see Romans 10:17). Just as Jesus waited on the Father and did what He saw Him do, as well as speak what He heard Him say (see John 5:19; 8:28-29; 12:49). We simply join in the process of promotion through obedience.
Would you gladly serve others, even if they got a promotion and you did not? Could you help another come into his or her position without expecting a favor in return? Could you do it without taking the credit for it, and would you rejoice for him or her? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may have some heart issues to contend with. A true servant of God will serve others well, and leave the rewards to Jesus. If we do things for others for personal gain, we are mere hired hands who have no interest in the Kingdom of God. Even as an employee, a servant will serve for reasons beyond the paycheck. He or she will do the work as unto the Lord, and influence his or her place of employment for the Kingdom as a result. In turn, it creates an environment more suited for the salvation of others who may be future heirs. If we do things strictly for our benefit, our actions will lack the love necessary to influence others for the Lord’s sake.
Humility will always recognize its Source, which means every time the Lord gives us a victory in any given area, we should find ourselves taking a deeper posture of humility. We cannot afford to take on an attitude that looks down on others when they are struggling in their circumstances. When we are on the pinnacle of a mountain experience, it is easy to lose sight of the struggle to get there. The temptation is to brag about walking by faith as if there was no negativity in the experience. “Though-ah I walked through the shadow of death-ah, I walked by faith-ah!” Lets get real shall we? There was a lot of shaking in the boots going on in that there valley. It was the faith of Jesus that got us through. The greater the victory, the greater the humility, because of the recognition it was God all along! When a brother or sister is struggling, we ought to come along side of them and encourage them; not look at them as if they have some sort of problem. Our yearning desire should be that they find God in the midst of the fire and experience the victory that only He can give. For us, it means that our confidence in the Lord Who dwells in us grows exponentially with every triumph, and a greater capacity to encourage another. With every opposition, comes an opportunity to glorify God. Conquest begins with humility. The quicker we acknowledge our lack of ability to overcome, the quicker He overcomes through us and with us. In the end, we will all lay our crowns before the feet of Jesus.