— Isaiah 5:20
— Mark Driscoll
— Proverbs 18:24
All love and no truth is hypocrisy."
— James Mcdonald
Some of us have very good reasons to be bitter. There are awful things that have been done to us, and we cannot seem to let it go. Many of you following me have been victims of racism, sexual abuse, deception, bullying, neglect, and a myriad of other things.
But there’s a catch.
Bitterness is an emotional Voodoo doll. You pain yourself over and over with different thoughts about vengeance, altered reenactments, and ill-meant wishes for your offender.
Let me explain something to you: Bitterness is harming no one but yourself. In fact, by refusing to forgive those who do evil from you, you are being demonic. BItterness is so evil and so profound, that James, the brother of Jesus, calls it wisdom from Satan.
”But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” - James 3:13-16
When someone wrongs us, we can tend to think “I did not deserve that! I deserve to be treated well, I deserve this, I deserve that!” As image bearers of God, we understand this conviction. There is nothing wrong in knowing how human beings deserve to be treated. However, when you start to follow that simple truth with: “They took what is valuable to me! This person deserves to die. I hope terrible suffering comes onto him/her, because they wronged me! I hope their heart shatters.”
That’s bitterness. Someone wrongs you, and you just watch their every step, filling your heart with more and more bitterness. Everything they succeed in, you gnash your teeth at. Everything they fail in, you rejoice in and have an emotional banquet with yourself. When your focus goes from the will of God and onto yourself and how you can commit harm for harm, you are being tempted and coerced by evil. It’s completely selfish and only causes evil.
James then continues:
”But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” - James 3:17-18
Every single one of these qualities crushes bitterness. And yet, if there is anyone in this entire existence that deserves to be bitter, it’s God. He comes to be tortured, mocked, beaten, rejected, and crucified, offering Himself as payment for our own sins, and we do the complete opposite of that act of love. He cries out “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they are doing!” and we cry to that same Father “You better punish them! Look at what they have done to me!”
God forgives us, and we withhold forgiveness from the very people that we are supposed to be giving our lives to. And yes, we might have extremely good reasons for being bitter. God sure does. Look at what we have done to His creation and to ourselves. But He loves you anyway and died for you.
So next time you’re angry with someone, no matter if it’s been years or minutes, stop and ask yourself “Am I being forgiving just as God forgave me?”
Take these moments and reflect on those who have done evil to you, and then forgive them. Pray for them. Tell them that you love them. Ask how you can serve them. Because no matter how many times we slap Jesus in the face with our sin and wicked doings, He keeps on turning the other cheek. Maybe it’s about time we follow His footsteps.
I am praying for you all. I am always here to listen to what you are going through.
God bless and much love
Anonymous asked: What are some passages of scripture to help someone with a doubtful heart? I’m really struggling with fact of am I saved or is God even real. I don’t even know where to look in the Bible please help.
Thanks so much for your question! I really hope and pray that I can help you discover who you are and help you find answers to the challenges you are facing.
First of all, let me say this: Struggling with the belief of salvation is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a very good checkpoint where we can reflect on ourselves and our character and see where we need Christ’s help to renew the broken parts of our lives.
Having said that, let me define salvation for you. Salvation is believing that Jesus Christ, being God, came and died for your sin, resurrecting after his death so that you could walk in newness of life with Him. All you must do to receive his salvation is believe that He is God and He died for you. If you truly believe that, you will follow Him.
Now, what can happen sometimes is that we start to find other things in life that we deem as valuable, and then we soon forget about God. Jesus Christ becomes a concept or fact, rather than a vibrant, living relationship.
Now, I will show you some Scripture:
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3-11 (NLT)
In this particular passage, Peter is addressing people who truly believe in Jesus (v.1). So this applies to anyone who truly thinks they are Christian. Here is what I want you to focus on: Peter mentions seven things one should add to their faith for growth and maturity (v. 5-7). Doing or not doing these things does not make you saved or condemned, but if you truly believe in Jesus, these 7 things will stop you from becoming fruitless and forgetting that you are saved. So read this over and over and think about how you can improve in all of those areas, and then pray to God to give you strength. If you lack moral excellence, ask God to give you strength to rid yourself of sin and find ways to fight those battles. If you lack knowledge, commit to reading your Bible, join a Bible study, or get someone to hold you accountable or perhaps find a study partner. If you lack Godliness, commit yourself to prayer and fasting and spend time with God so that you can be refreshed and refocused on who He is.
Now that we have talked about that, I want to show you what it looks like to be saved:
“I am thetrue vine, and my Father isthe vinedresser.2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruithe takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.3 Alreadyyou are cleanbecause of the word that I have spoken to you.4 Abidein me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is thatbears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in mehe is thrown away like a branch and withers;and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.7 Ifyou abide in me, and my words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 By this my Father is glorified, that youbear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.9 As the Father has loved me,so have I loved you. Abide in my love.10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just asI have keptmy Father’s commandments and abide in his love.11 These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” – John 15:1-11
So I want to make something very clear now. If you are saved, you will not be perfect. We all need to be pruned. We have times in our walk when we get distracted by things of this world, and then we begin to wither and die. Every Christian has been there.
Having made that clear, I want you to ask yourself “Do I really love Jesus? Do I want to obey what He commands because I love Him?” You see, Jesus told His disciples in this passage that they would obey His commands if they love Him. If they do not love Him, they won’t obey His commands. This doesn’t mean you will be perfect. Jesus knew they were not perfect, after all, Peter denied Him three times and everyone abandoned Him at the time of His arrest (Mark 14).
Now, in verse 8 Jesus told them to prove they are His disciples by bearing much fruit. This does not mean that they needed to prove to God that they are His disciples (v. 5 says they can’t). What it does mean is that we can see for ourselves if we are truly His disciples. If you want to know if you are a Christian or not, study this passage and ask yourself these questions afterwards:
1. Do I love Jesus?
2. What is my deepest desire?
3. Is my deepest desire to follow and serve Jesus, or serve myself and my desires?
4. Have I been trying to fix myself for Jesus or have I been asking Jesus to help me grow closer to Him?
After you answer those questions, I am sure that you will be certain on whether or not you are saved. After all, who can love Jesus and not be saved? If you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will follow Him.
Bear in mind this one thing: Jesus did not say what He did in John 15 in order to criticize, terrify, or discourage His disciples. He said in verse 11: “These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” Jesus does not want you to be struggling and heart shattered. He wants you to be full of joy. That is why He told His disciples to abide in Him and love Him and bear fruit in order to show that they are truly children of God. Once you know who you are in Christ, you will have joy. But once you forget and do not apply the 7 pillars that Peter talked about, you will become “shortsighted and blind, forgetting that you have been cleansed from your past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)
I hope all of this has helped! I want to suggest to you a few resources. I want you to get 2 books: Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll. Crazy Love is about what truly loving and believing in Christ is all about, and Who Do You Think You Are is a study on Ephesians about your identity and who Christ has made you to be. Please get both of those books! Figuring out where you stand with Christ is worth the 20-30 dollars that you would spend on something else.
Mark Driscoll did a sermon series based on his book that you can find here. You can watch one or two a week until you get through the whole thing. I think it would be very beneficial for you!
Also, I just finished watching a sermon by Francis Chan on being “Lukewarm.” I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that term, but it basically means that you haven’t truly made a decision to follow Christ and you’re just sitting on the fence about it. The sermon was very challenging and I think it would be very beneficial for you to work through it. You can find the video here.
I hope that my words will help you work through all of this. Please take advantage of the resources I have offered. Invest your time into discovering where you stand with God! Nothing else is more important. Cancel social events with friends. Quit your job if you need to! This is far more important than anything in this world. Simply try your very hardest to work and wrestle through this fatal question: “Am I really saved?”
If you have any more questions or anything you want to explain or comment on, please let me know! I am always here to help or simply listen. You are in my prayers.
God bless and much love,
Anonymous said: So this is more of a morals question. My best friend, E, is really missing her sister who went out of state for college. E is wanting to spend a weekend visiting her, but since she lives in a dorm E can’t stay with her. However her sister has a fiancee up there. He lives on his own, and he has a spare room that he said E can use for a weekend to visit her sister. Do you think it would be wrong for her to stay with her future brother in law for a weekend, to be continued
since she will be spending little time actually at his apartment. They are all great christians, and he would never do anything to hurt his future wife. Would it still be wrong for her to stay there?
Thanks for the question! I understand that this is not a black and white issue.
If no “technical” sin happens in her staying there, then no it would not be wrong. However, we must not simply live in moral excellence, but also in wisdom. So E must ask herself several questions:
- Would this damage my reputation?
- How do I personally feel about this decision?
- Would I be setting a good example?
- Would I be compromising any of my convictions in making this decision?
- Is there a possibility to cause anyone else to stumble?
I know that some Christians would see a huge problem in a woman staying over a man’s house alone. I also know other Christians who would see no problem at all. However, E must find out where she stands, and be certain in her conviction through seeking counsel, studying Scripture, and going to God in humble, open-minded prayer.
Be sure of this:
“But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:23
If you make a decision and you have doubts about it (MORALLY SPEAKING!!), then you would be sinning because you’re betraying your conscience in the sight of God.
Also, I know a lot of people try to justify their actions by saying “The Bible doesn’t say anything about this topic.” Or “This Christian said I could do it.” But in the end it’s not about what you can justify. It’s about your heart being laid bare before the Word of God and the sight of the Father.
“ So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” – James 4:17
I hope all of this helps a little bit! I will pray that E will work through this with sincere prayer and submission to the conviction of the Spirit.
God bless and much love!
Anonymous asked: I’ve been very torn on some topics I’ve been reading in the Bible. Jesus states to be peaceful and versus like Matthew 5:38-42, but in different books of the Bible people talk about being warriors of the faith and wearing the armor of God. My question is how do we be kind and peaceful, but warriors at the same time? I have a friend who is a navy seal, so this has been weighing on my mind of is this right to go into war or not?
Thank you for the question! I am glad you are wrestling with your convictions and the Bible!
Here’s what I think: When it comes to Matthew 5:38-42, I think Jesus is not talking about defending yourself, I think He is talking about refusing to seek vengeance. If I am attacked on the street, I will defend myself. If my family or friends are attacked, I will defend myself. Here is the key: Do everything in love. Seek peace. If fighting is not necessary, then do not fight. If it is necessary to defend yourself, then by all means, defend yourself.
“For everything, there is a season. There is a time to kill, and a time to heal.” – Ecclesiastes 3.
Your friend is a navy seal. I think that is a heart issue. If he wants to go to war because he is bloodthirsty, he is in sin. If he wants to go to war to prove something to someone in the past, he is being selfish. If he wants to go to war because he wants to die, he is not seeking hope and joy from Christ. If he wants to go to war to see his country protected, then he is being selfless. Do you understand where I am going with this? So talk to your friend and find out his heart. This is not a black and white topic.
Also, when the Bible talks about wearing the armor of God, it talks about it in a spiritual sense, not in a physical war sense. It draws on what we know about earthly war, and applies it to spiritual battle. You can read about that in Ephesians 6. As for being warriors of the faith, I’m not sure where the Bible says that, but I highly doubt it would ever mean to be physically violent for Jesus. That does not match up with the life and truth that Jesus wants us to live by.
At the same time, when Scripture tells us to seek peace, it does not tell us to lay down and die. Instead, it tells us to seek peace by pursuing love. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can ever do is fight evil and oppression. Standing up for what is right and standing up for what is true, more often than not, causes opposition instead of peace.
Speaking about the truth, Jesus said this:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10
This does not mean that God wants us to cause strife. It simply means that standing up for the truth and following Jesus is not going to help you live a peaceful life. You will find peace in Jesus, but obeying and following Jesus is going to cause hardship. It’s going to stir people against you, and you’re going to have to deal with that and find peace in Him.
So here’s what I think. I think that violence is sometimes justified. I think that there are times where we need to use physical force to protect ourselves or the ones that we love. So the question is not “Is war justified?” But the question is “In this specific situation, how can I stand up for what is right in love?”
I hope that helps you a little bit! Let me know if you have any more questions or concerns!
I will be praying for your convictions and for your friend as well!
"Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”
A reminder of what we have and how we should temper our reactions.
Where is the life in the life you live? You are the poor millionaire.
What is there that can punish like a conscience ignored?
Read the Bible and do what it says.
Anonymous asked: I tried for the longest time to be one with the church. I tried so hard to feel the way everyone else felt. Praise and worship I saw faces of pure joy, everyone looked so breath taken by the feeling that they had been given to them in that very point in time. But here I am, not feeling a thing but the sadness I walked in with. When I called on a paster to be he scolded me which made me turn my back from even the thought of Church….I just need something to cure my pain. Is church for me?
If what you say is true, then it is no wonder that you turned away from even the thought of church! That isn’t church at all. Church isn’t about how we feel and what we feel, it’s about the gathering of people who love Jesus to read Scripture and worship God. But to answer your question specifically: Church won’t cure your pain; Jesus will. Now for my lengthy footnote…
This doesn’t mean that you will be happy all of the time. Jesus isn’t some magic drug that you take twice a day to keep the tears away. Worship isn’t some happy time either. Did you know that God gets sad? Did you know that He weeps, and His heart can be broken? This is why we experience sadness, anger, happiness, etc.
You may have been told that there are good and bad emotions. I want you to know that idea is a lie. Emotions are neutral; it just depends on what you do with them. A couple of examples: If you are angry, you don’t need to yell or hit somebody. If you are sad, you don’t need to harm yourself. It is not the emotions that are evil, it is just our responses to them sometimes. There are so many Scripture verses of God being sad or angry, and there are so many Scripture verses of Godly men being sad or angry. So don’t think that Christians are supposed to be happy all of the time, because we’re not. We go through pain. We are human beings, and this world is full of pain and suffering.
Now listen to me very carefully: Jesus knows the pain you are going through, and He wants to help you. From the language that you’ve used, it sounds like you’ve been hurt by a church, but you have not mentioned God at all. So let me ask you this: Could you just try talking to Jesus instead? And telling Him how you feel and everything that you’re going through? I’m not saying you’ll be happy, but He wants to help you!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
These are the words of Jesus. He died for you so that you can have a friendship with Him. He was nailed to a cross, suffered there, and died for you. He loves you. He understands pain. He understands what you’re going through. He’s seen you and I do horrible things, even though all He did was love us. He watched us turn our backs on Him and blame Him for things that He didn’t do. And yet He has not moved; He stands in front of you with arms wide open. I’m not asking you to go to church and try to get those happy go-lucky feelings that you may have seen. I’m just asking you to give Jesus a true, sincere chance.
There is a sarcastic video I want to show you. It’s comedic and funny, but just understand the message: It is stupid to believe that Jesus makes you happy all the time and that you will never, ever be sad.
Messy Mondays: IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN YOU HAVE TO BE HAPPY ALL THE TIME
I promise you, you and I both struggle emotionally. Everyone does. Some people just hide it behind a fake smile. I’ll tell you this though: Jesus brings true joy to my life. Let me explain. There is fulfillment in accepting the love of God. There is comfort in trusting that He will always take care of you. There is hope in knowing that the suffering in this world won’t last forever. It sure doesn’t make the suffering in this world go away, but you know what? Jesus will change your life forever.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’m praying for you.
God bless and much love!
— John Piper