I seem to think this a lot as I remember events and replay conversations of the past. When thinking about conversations had, I think about what people said and what they implied. And when I remember how they were wrong, I think to myself “give me a break”. In other words, get your facts straight before you point your finger. Get your act together before confronting. Get your ducks in a row before you start something.
But we as humans often don’t. We judge. We assume. We jump to conclusions. We ignore obvious facts. And all because we need to be right. We know we’re right. We couldn’t possibly be wrong.
So we roll our eyes and cast judgment on those who blame us, accuse us, shame us, hurt us, and use us. We wish these people would just leave us alone, think before speaking to or about us, or just get a clue. We just want them to give us a break.
And then, if we’re really following God, in those moments He gently says to us “give Me a break”. Oh no. What could He mean by that?
He means to think positive, happy, uplifting, praiseworthy thoughts (Philippians 4:8).
He means to let it go and not hold a grudge – to forgive fully and finally (Matthew 18:22).
He means to look inward and deal with anything you can change within yourself (Matthew 7:5).
He means to watch your words and be careful what you speak (Ephesians 4:29,31).
He means to be purposefully careful and loving in what you say and do (Ephesians 4:2,32).
He means to trade your burdens and anger for His peace and edification (Matthew 11:28).
He means to transform your opinions and ideologies toward truth (Romans 12:2).
He means to choose to bless someone instead of spite them (Romans 12:14).
He means to allow God to handle judgment and consequences (Romans 12:17).
He means to “overcome evil with good” with positive attitudes (Romans 12:21).
He means to choose peace and walk in peace, no matter what comes at you (John 14:27).
He means to remember that love is always the best choice (1 Corinthians 13:7).
He means to step outside our hurt, our indignation, our pain, our shame, our embarrassment, our anger, our pride, and our self-righteousness to choose something better than our emotions. He means to step outside that moment to see the bigger picture, to maybe connect with where the other person is coming from. He means to overcome our prejudices and pride to see beyond the current flash of emotions to have the right reaction. He means to step outside the moment to consult with Him, to pause and pray before speaking any harsh word or condemning criticism.
God and I are working on this day by day, and it’s a process. A hard process.
Because in the moment it is so easy to jump to conclusions and rock the boat of peace to be right. To be quick to speak and slow to think. To feel justified in proving someone else wrong. To be overcome by self-righteousness and justify/defend your actions. To condemn and criticize to feel better about yourself.
So what’s the answer? Recognize these unholy things within you and give them to God. When you are tempted to follow them down an unrighteous path, stop and pray. Ask God to renew your mind and energize the new man within you to not knee-jerk react. Believe God will put a guard over your mouth to keep you from speaking out of turn. Call upon God to replace any negative and unholy thoughts with loving and edifying thoughts. Decide it is time to be different and then act/react differently that you want to (feel).
When’s the best time to start? Now. Right this minute. As soon as possible.
And the minute you decide to change your mind, God will give you the opportunity to put your walk where your talk is. He’ll allow you to walk through a situation where you will have the opportunity to put your new resolutions to the test. To see if you can be faithful and true to what you say you believe.
And in the meantime, give yourself a break. Know you are human and will make mistakes. Remember that God is working through you to produce spiritual maturity and absolute faith in you. Because failure is never final. God will give you another chance to get it right, because He loves you too much to leave you the way you are or where you are. He wants to see you grow, blossom, and produce spiritual fruit. It starts with recognizing where you need His help and then repenting for where you missed His mark (of love).
And once you can give yourself a break, you’ll be more able to love people and give them a break.
So give me a break. Give yourself a break. And give everyone around you a break. Then you will see the full faithfulness of God infuse you with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [which] will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). And you will be able and willing to walk in grace to anyone and everyone. And who doesn’t need more grace?
Marie Fremin, 10/17/15