The Holy Spirit had to work extra hard recently to keep me from responding to an email. I wanted to lash out in anger and frustration. What my broken, need-to-point-out-someone-is-wrong-because-he’s-wrong-won't-admit-it-and-is-trying-to-blame-me self wanted to do is not what God desired.
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I had to resist multiple urges to prove I was right and the other guy was wrong. In the mental battle between my earthly desire and obedience to God’s will, God brought Ephesians 4:26 to mind: “In your anger do not sin” (NIV).
So I prayed, “God, you know what is right and true. I do not need to prove that someone is wrong. Even if I did, he might not repent or apologize. I have no control over someone else's behavior. I may be able to win a battle by proving I'm right, but you, God, you want me to win the war--your kingdom war against the Enemy and all his stupid tricks and ploys.
“No. I choose to stand with God on this one. I am not going to sin in my anger.”
That day, I chose God’s will. But that’s not always the case. I confess that, more often than not, I choose to give into my flesh.
Just a few days after the email incident, a coworker came to my desk to tell me I had filled out a report incorrectly. I had inserted a code that was given to me, so I wanted to search through my emails to check the original document. Maybe I had typed the code wrong, but I didn’t think so.
I started digging through my email files.
My coworker kept talking.
I tried to focus on finding the right email.
He continued to tell me why the code was wrong.
Me: “Hold on.”
Me: “Just hold on a second. I’m looking for the email.
Me: “Just wait.”
Me: “CAN YOU JUST STOP?!”
Yep, I blew it. I raised my voice. I wasn’t listening to the person. I was concentrating on finding proof that I wasn’t wrong.
I finally found the email and double-checked the code. What I wrote on the form was exactly the code I was instructed to use. I felt vindicated.
I’m a big rule-follower. I follow directions and read instructions. I’m that person who reads owner manuals cover-to-cover.
If someone instructs me to do something, I do it. People know they can count on me to do what I say I am going to do.
I’ve had people in authority ask me to do things and then turn around and criticize me for doing exactly what they asked. I think that’s one reason why I document everything. I am tired of being blamed for things I was instructed to do.
So when someone accuses me of doing something I’ve been told to do by someone else, I get defensive and want to prove I am only following directions. It’s. Not. My. Fault.
It’s not my fault.
Such an innocent-sounding phrase, but those four little words carry a lot of power from the Enemy. If it’s not my fault, then it’s someone else’s. If I’m trying to prove my innocence, then I’m being defensive and focusing on me, not the person coming to me with a problem. There’s a total me vs. you mentality.
I was right. I filled out the report correctly, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I had proof that I did exactly as I was instructed.
I was right. But I was also wrong.
I may have won a small battle, but it was coupled with a loss. I didn’t do anything to foster God’s kingdom war against the Enemy. Did I have to turn a disagreement into a battle? Even if someone came at me with an accusation, I didn’t have to engage in combat. I could have put the other person first and tried to see if I could help find a solution.
The Enemy wants me to have knee-jerk reactions. He wants me to fight. But Jesus says otherwise.
Jesus wants me to choose him instead of giving in to the flesh. He wants me to listen as his Holy Spirit reminds me of God’s truths. I want to decrease the times I give in to the Enemy and increase the number of times I’m obedient to God. I want to heed God's reminder instead of allowing the Enemy to have another victory.
God, in his perfect timing, reminded me that I had recently studied Romans 8:12-13:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (NIV)
Yes, Lord, I want to live by the Spirit. Continue to speak to me through your Holy Spirit. Remind me how you want me to respond. I do not need to fight. You will fight for me, if necessary. I don’t have to defend myself. Even if I am right, I can still be wrong. Help me be more mindful of your kingdom and stop thinking everything has to be a battle. Amen.
Lorianne Lee’s whole identity was being a teacher (or so she thought). Now she’s trying to figure out who she is without being “Miss Lee.” Lorianne enjoys being an auntie to her nieces, nephew, and friends’ kids who call her “Auntie Lorianne.” She loves food but can’t afford to go out anymore. Some call her a prayer warrior, but Lorianne doesn’t feel worthy of that label. Lorianne wants to find her identity in Christ. She’s trying to be open to whatever God has for her, but she’ll tell you she’d much rather God just tell her what to do, whom to hang out with, and how to spend her time.