Should We Really Judge Others?

Should We Judge OthersI recently reposted a meme that said,

“It’s impossible to love people when you’re standing in judgement of them.”

I had an acquaintance respond who said:

“I’m confused.  Should I take a Sharpie and cross all these verses out of my bible?  Matt. 18:15-17, 1 Cor. 5:3, Gal. 6:1, Rev. 2:2, Titus 1:13, 2 Thess. 3:14, Titus 2:15, 2 Cor. 2:6-8.  The Bible seems to say that sometimes loving people means HAVING to judge them, and Jesus even gave a specific recipe for how to do it.  But, you’re saying it’s ‘impossible’.  So, He was wrong?”

My initial response was:

“It also says to not judge lest you be judged, (Matt. 7:1).  I think the problem comes in that our English word has different connotations. Jesus stated, “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” (John 12:47).   Perhaps, it has to do with an individual’s perspective, resulting in decisions each person makes, as a consequence of someone’s actions affecting their perceived boundaries.  This inherently feels like shaming, but it doesn’t have to.  While we do need to make decisions about our interactions with others (thus making a judgement), I think we can do that without shame, inviting them into relationship when there is evidence of change.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I think we don’t ‘stand in judgement’ of others as much as we judge ourselves and make decisions for ourselves.

My acquaintance challenged me again to deal with the verses he cited.  So, just for fun, I want to look specifically at the verses he stated.  In these verses I see basically two elements: (1) These are examples of setting boundaries, and (2) Judgement should rest in the hands of the corporate (church body) authority, so that an individual doesn’t have to harbor judgment in his heart toward another individual.

I’ve written another post on this Blog on not judging others HERE, where I discuss the different meanings of the English word “judging,” between condemning someone vs. making evaluations, which we need to clarify when talking about judging.

The Greek word for judge is krino and Strong’s definition is: properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish:—avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

Well, there’s a lot in that definition.  There are both the meanings to evaluate and to condemn.

How do the verses (below) relate with the meme that I reposted?  Are these verses which exhort us to proactively hold ourselves over others, condemning them, or are they an instruction for how to handle situations that unfortunately require discernment and protection?   Are they verses that show there is a place for discernment about a brother’s behaviors so we can set boundaries? 

Perhaps the meme would have been better stated as “It’s impossible to love people when you’re standing in condemnation of them”, which is how I read the meme to begin with.  I will trust that my acquaintance has a good heart and does not condemn those that he finds it necessary to part ways with.  I will also practice setting good boundaries based on the behaviors I see in another that may not be safe.  Still, as an individual, I will stand by the meme and try to not condemn them and practice letting go of any stones that I find in my hands.

Here’s a look at these particular verses because these are indeed in the Bible and it’s good to wrestle with them.

Matt. 18:15-17

15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

This is indeed a great verse to show we need to talk about sins between believers. Some versions also include the words “If a brother sins against you” indicating we don’t need to talk about every sin, just the ones we are offended by. It’s also a great verse which talks about setting boundaries (let them be to you as a Gentile; keep your distance), and taking it from an individual perspective to a corporate perspective.  Let more than one person decide if this sin is harmful to others enough to warrant separation from the church.  I don’t see this as “standing in judgment” as much as having discernment as to when and how to set boundaries.

Taking it into the corporate level of care also frees the offended person so they can let go of judgment.  It is to be borne out of care and concern for the welfare of the sinner and not out of spite or ill-will.  Of course, an individual may need to set boundaries for themselves even if the corporate body is not able or willing to do so.

The entire theme of Matthew 18 is that of restoration and concern for those who are lost.

1 Cor 5:13

 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

Another great verse showing boundaries are appropriate and required when dealing with an immoral person.  The context of 1 Cor. 5 talks about sexual sins and this is a letter written to the corporate church in Corinth.  The Church is not to hide evil doers, but expose them (Eph. 5:11).  Does this require discernment and evaluation?  Yes it does.

Gal 6:1  (Letter is written to the Corporate church in Galatia)

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

Again, another verse which calls us to look at our own heart first before we deal with another person’s sins.  Rather than ‘standing in judgment’ (i.e. condemnation), we first look at our own life and realize how difficult it is to change.  We come from a place of gentleness and not condemnation.  Not everyone has the skill of being gentle which is why it needs to go back to the corporate level to have the elders deal with it.

Rev 2:2

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false

This is honoring the church at Ephesus (corporate) that they tested (evaluated) apostles and found them to be false.  Again, an area for corporate vs. individuals to decide so an individual doesn’t have to.

Titus 1:13

This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

Again, this is written to Titus who is organizing the corporate church and it is specifically talking about the selection of elders for the corporate church.  Specifically he is speaking of teachers teaching false doctrine.

2 Thess. 3:14

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.

Another great verse which advocates for healthy boundaries!  Boundaries will indeed sometimes cause a person to feel shame (not that we have to hold them in a shaming way).  But by their nature, it does separate us and can cause shame. And yet, even if we have to hold a boundary, we hold them keeping in mind this person is a brother, not an enemy. Someone we love and not condemn.

Titus 2:15

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

This letter is written to Titus who is over the corporate church, who is to watch the habits and actions of the brethren. The church is to exhort (Blue Letter Bible: exhort = to call to one’s side, to address, speak to, admonish, beg, console, encourage, comfort, strengthen, instruct).  I don’t think it comes with an attitude of condemnation.

2 Cor 2:6-8

 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment, which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Again, the corporate church exercising love not condemnation.

I Am A Ray: Overcoming Worthlessness

When my focus isn’t about me, as much as loving the world around me, it somehow comes back to give me a healthy self-esteem. 

I Am A RayI have opportunity to speak with many people about the struggles of life.  Often, at the very root of it, is a false belief of “I have no value”, “I am worthless”, or “I have nothing to offer”.  Women, particularly beautiful, gifted and kind women, struggle to see their beauty because it feels prideful to see it.  This belief causes depression, ruins relationships, and stops them before they get to the starting line.

I’d like to offer a word picture that is a mentally beneficial place to stay in terms of a healthy self-esteem.  Picture yourself as one ray coming off the sun and God as the ball of fire.  When we can see ourselves this way, we can acknowledge the uniqueness of our ray, while recognizing the beauty of it is coming from the ball of fire.  The ray’s purpose is to bring light and heat to the world.  Each ray is a unique expression of the ball of fire and therefore one ray cannot compare itself to any other ray.  Every ray is vital, because if there were only one ray of light and heat to the world, it would be a very cold, dark and colorless world.  It also allows us to celebrate every ray.

I developed a certain mantra in my later teens, which I believe has served me well for many years; do what I can, with what I got, and move on.  It has helped me to not take myself so seriously.  It’s not good to hide my ray underneath a shroud of worthlessness waiting for the world to discover it.  But it is good to take whatever natural qualities I have been created with and develop them.  I am to study well, foster hobbies, mature character, nurture health, and dress for success.  And then shine my ray (which stems from the ball of fire) to light and heat the world around me.  It therefore, becomes less about me, and more about seeing how God shows up and does amazing things.  When my focus isn’t about me, as much as loving the world around me, it somehow comes back to give me a healthy self-esteem.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  So, if you are looking to others to find acceptance and validation, you open yourself to an insatiable vortex that can never be filled.  You also open yourself up to be manipulated and coerced by those who also have an insatiable vortex within them.  There will always be some who don’t want what you have to offer.  There will be others who ridicule and demean what you have developed.  Your self-esteem takes care of itself as you use your gifts and talents to light and heat the world, but not if you become someone else in order to find approval.  Remember, Jesus WAS perfect and there were those who hated him, so you have to figure you won’t be able to please everyone.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful psalm which speaks to how God is intimately acquainted with you, having formed you in your mother’s womb.  And in Eph. 2:10 that God created you for good works.  It was the intention of God to create you specifically.

1 Cor. 12 shows that we are individually members of a body, with unique gifts.  We are not individuals apart from others, but we are individuals in concert with others. But, when you try to find your identity through effort to appease others in relationships, work, appearance, possessions, or reputation, you are not offering your identity but you are allowing your identity to be stolen. 

You also don’t have to be the most talented, the smartest, or the most dynamic person on a given subject to be able to offer it to others.  You can’t compare, because you have been placed in a particular time, in a particular place, in a particular setting to heat and light your world.  Accept the fact there will be others who are more attractive, wiser, have more talents, and have insanely dynamic personalities.  Be inspired by them.  Then, move on…to love the world around you.

If you know someone (or ten someones) who might struggle with feeling worthless or just a lack of purpose, would you consider sharing this with them to encourage them.  The world needs their ray.  The world needs your ray.

#IAmARay  #ShineBright

You Must Have Deserve It

What this means is we can’t judge a heart by the trial.

you must have deserved it
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Recently, I saw a tweet from Diane Langberg which said this:

“You can do right and still have everything turn out wrong. I am not certain where we got the idea** that was not so, given that the One we follow and call God did do everything right and ended up treated with gross injustice.”

**She is addressing the belief that if I am doing the right things, then I should have a blessed life and if I am suffering then I have done something wrong. We want to believe we can control our fate by being good.

This is a powerful statement, which deserves some thought.  Her point here is very valid…Christ was always perfect, and He was treated with gross injustice.  However, I think there are three main reasons why we want to believe that the blessings in our life indicate we are righteous, and the curses in our life indicate we are in sin.

Deuteronomy 28

First, the Bible indicates it.  Deuteronomy is called The Book of the Law.  It tells us about how God set up the spiritual laws of the universe.  It tells us what to do and how to do it.  In chapter 28:2 it says, “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.”  And then it lists for the next twelve verses the many blessings we will received if we obey.  Then in 28:15 it says, “If you will not obey the Lord your God, all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” And it goes on for the next twenty-nine verses the many curses we will endure if we live in sin. This is indeed a general principle that is true.

So, it goes to follow that if I am experiencing negative consequences in my life, it is at least worth the question to myself, “is there something I am doing that could be inviting this curse upon me?”

But let’s remember there is more than one chapter in the Bible to base our understanding on.

We Love Justice

The second reason we believe our actions produce a specific result is we love justice.  We love justice because this is a character of God.  We want to know what the rules are so we can get what we want.  If I do the right thing and suffer it’s not fair..  Nobody loves a story where the weak gets assaulted, robbed, and defamed and that’s the end of the story.  We forget there is an enemy in this world that brings sickness, strife, and temptation. We forget we have been given choice and we choose things that God would not choose.  And while God IS a just God and He will make right every wrong, there is nothing to indicate He treats everyone the same.

We Want To Be In Control

To protect ourselves from the thought that we could be innocently assaulted with a curse, we construe blame on victims and think they must have done something to deserve this.  This gives us a feeling of safety and control.  The cancer victim must have eaten poorly, or the poor must not know how to work, or the rape victim must have been scantily dressed.  Our minds race to find some cause so that we can avoid this fate for our own lives.  But the story of Job indicates that even the righteous endure hardship at the hand of Satan.

So, how are we to look at it when we experience deep sorrow and hardship?

Keep our eyes focused on our own stories

First, the story of Job reminds us that we can’t really know what is going on in someone else’s story, we so need to keep our focus on our own stories.  Job’s friends were shown to be fools, because they opened their mouths to try and figure out why Job was going through tremendous anguish.

God doesn’t stop trials

In the story of Job, God is the one who points out Job’s righteousness to Satan (Job 1:8, 2:3).  God also repaid Job ten times what was taken from him.  God does not protect him from experiencing the pain.  If the Spirit does not convict us, then we can have a confidence our suffering is a not a result of our actions.  We can then also be assured that God will restore blessing to us many times over.

Deut. 23:5 “The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.”

1 Peter 2:19 “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”

Trusting Has Three Elements

#1 Trusting doesn’t mean we are stuck in suffering

It is a kingdom agenda to relieve suffering!  We look for cures to cancer, we flee danger, and we comfort the afflicted.  If we can do something about our situation, then by all means we move toward relieving the suffering.   It is not ‘more holy’ to suffer.

#2 Trusting doesn’t mean we will not suffer

It is a kingdom agenda to grow through suffering.  There are many things we can’t change and Scripture speaks to the suffering God’s people will endure.  I have often heard people say, “I will trust that God loves me so this bad thing won’t happen.”  But that’s ultimately trusting in the outcome not in God.  We need to learn to say, “no matter what happens, I trust God loves me and whatever suffering I endure God will bring good from it.”

It is good to ask the question, “am I doing something that would bring this negative consequence into my life?”  If the answer is yes, then by all means we need to repent and change our ways.  But a valid answer could be, ‘no, to my knowledge I have not brought this on myself.’  Or, another equally valid answer is, “I am suffering this fate because I have done the right thing.”

#3 Trusting through the trial

The thing is, God doesn’t stop hardship or sin in this world; rejection, sin, catastrophes, trials, sickness, and death still happen.  He is faithful to us in the middle of those hardships, but not in taking them away.  He is faithful to give us His peace, perspective, patience, hope, and joy as we move through them.

He brings good out of the troubles of this world as we trust Him. And if we don’t trust Him through those trials, (we hold onto control, fear, anger, blame, etc.) I’m not sure He does bring good out of those troubles.  And personally, if I’m going to go through a trial, I’d rather have good come from it than dung.

What this ultimately means is we can’t judge a heart by the trial.  A person could go to jail (a negative consequence) because they have exposed and stood against evil (a righteous deed).  A person could have an accident (a negative consequence) because they are serving their neighbor (a righteous deed).  Or a person could be sick (a negative consequence) because we are in a spiritual battle (a righteous deed).

So, my hope is to judge myself (only) by doing what I believe God is calling me to do, according to Scripture.  If my conscious affirms me and I am yet experiencing a negative consequence or a curse, then I trust God knowing that my suffering will one day become gold.

Diane Langberg’s quote is spot on.  The cross our proof.

FBS: If I’m Not in Control, Something Bad Will Happen

A healthy True Belief System (TBS) to move to is “My needs are my responsibility, your needs are your responsibility.”  

If I'm Not in Control
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

This post is part of a series I am doing on False Belief Systems (FBS).  What we believe matters because it affects how we think, which affects our emotions, which affects our behaviors.

A starting place to understand the FBS “If I’m not in control, something bad will happen” is to acknowledge that it comes from a good heart.  The reality is, you don’t want something bad to happen.  That’s good.

But, the main problem with it is the belief that you can and should control things you were never intended to control.  Some people would say you are “trying to play God”, but even God doesn’t control other people.  He has given us a free will.  So, the truth is, you are trying to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself and for those you love.

But desiring to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself isn’t the real problem.  Where it crosses into a problem is when you try to control things that you are not authorized to control, which is mostly other people’s decisions.

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, “but if I let a loved one make this decision (or not make a decision), something bad will happen!”  And with that hypervigilance, fear, panic and eventually exhaustion set in. An accident might happen, divorce might happen, failure might happen, or worse.  And there are actual consequences you may have to live with because of it.

So, if it comes from a good heart, why is this belief system so harmful?  It’s harmful because you take the freedom from others to make their own decisions.  This control fosters resentments, irresponsibility, rebellion, tension, and broken relationships.  You stand back scratching your head thinking, ‘this person (who won’t be controlled by me) has major problems.’  And maybe they do.  But it blinds you from seeing your part and letting go.

A healthy True Belief System (TBS) to move to is “My needs are my responsibility, your needs are your responsibility.”  The importance of letting others be responsible for themselves means they also must bear their own consequences.  This can feel devastating when it’s a loved one who loses a job, ends up homeless, leads to divorce, or ends up in jail (or worse.)  But the freedom you both experience and the health that comes to your relationship is amazing!

The truth is bad things might happen.  However, by attempting to be in control of other people’s decisions you ensure that bad things will happen because you’ve attempted to take away the autonomy of another and that is bondage.  Using fear, obligation, and guilt to control the outcome can be (and usually is) oppression, even when it comes with good intentions.

If (or when) bad things happen, you will need to take care of your responsibilities, and you can let others take care of their responsibilities.  If they don’t (or don’t do it in the way you approve) then it’s on them.

If panic is setting in right now, you have some work to do.  You are not alone as this is a common FBS that I work with people on.  Gather some community around you to help you let go of control and be accountable to them.  You will find freedom and so will those around you.

FBS: I Can’t Change

If you believe you can’t change, chances are pretty good you’re right.

I Can't Change
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

This post is part of a series I am doing on False Belief Systems (FBS).  What we believe matters because it affects how we think about things, which affects our emotions, which affects our behaviors.  I’m not talking about theological beliefs (although those affect us too.)  I’m talking about beliefs about who we are and about God and others.  If we are stuck in cycles of harm that we want to break free of, this is a beginning point of where we look.

Since most people live with several FBS’s, it doesn’t matter which we start with…we just pick one and start.  But the belief “I Can’t Change” is a deal breaker.  It stops us from even trying.

Do you hear you tell yourself, “I’ve always been this way, I’ll always be this way, this is just who I am?”  Oftentimes we begin to believe we can’t change because we’ve tried many times to change and were not successful.  Perhaps we didn’t have the right tools to know how to change.  Perhaps we were young without the necessary capacity of freedom to change.  Or perhaps we were told we couldn’t change and so we believed them. Whatever the reason, it’s time to believe ‘I can change.’

Over the course of the next several weeks I plan to address these FBS:

I must be in control or something bad will happen
I don’t need anyone
If I’m vulnerable I will get hurt
I’m dumb, worthless, or a failure
I’ll always fail no matter how hard I try
I cannot cope without____________
Whatever I do it won’t be good enough
I am responsible for other people’s feelings, problems, & behaviors
My worth is based on my performance
People will only like me if I’m happy
God won’t be there when I really need him
Authority figures will betray me
If I don’t feel, I won’t hurt

Here are some essential steps to change:

  1. Be Determined

Nothing changes until you determine it to change.  Ask yourself “What’s stopping me? What is hurting me? Where do I want to grow?”  Chances are the truth isn’t not going to pop out of the sky to rescue you.  Even when we recognize God is making changes in us, we usually partner with God to make them happen.

  1. Surround yourself with a team

You were not meant to be alone.  Find some trusted friends who may be working on their own changes and be accountable.  Check in with them daily or weekly.  Let them ask you questions to help you see your current belief systems.  And let them encourage you.  This part is admitting to others your real self and your need.

  1. Find out why the lie is there? What is it protecting you from?

Usually a lie is protecting you from something.  Perhaps, if you believed ‘I can’t change’, it prevents you from putting in the work to learning something new.  Or perhaps it’s there to protect you from some sort of suffering, rejection, or failure.

  1. Work on it daily for 30-60 days

Replace the lie with the truth.  For 10 minutes every day, think on, memorize scripture or quotes, discover, read, talk about, and practice the new truth.  They say a person can change any habit in 21 days.

I’ve found that in 21-days the new brain pathway is built as I begin to understand how the lie is affecting me and recognize what I need to do. Some habits die hard and can take up to a year of working on it for it to be eradicated from my life.  But it becomes much easier after the first 30 to 60 days.

  1. Take Risks

Recognize it’s hard to change.  You will eventually need to step out into a True Belief System (TBS) and that can be scary.    Taking risks by telling people your new belief and acting on the new belief is a part of taking ownership of the new belief.  It only feels like you might die, but chances are you’re just growing.

This is different from the power of positive thinking or even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  I’m not against these things.  Positive thinking can go a long way in helping you when it’s grounded in truth.  CBT can truly help people, but I believe it stops short.  The goal of CBT is to reduce symptoms and distress to psychological disorders by teaching new information-processing skills and coping mechanisms.  The goal I am speaking of is to change entire belief systems and at the core trust in the truth.

If you believe you can’t change, chances are pretty good you’re right.  So killing this FBS is a great first step.   If you’re thinking this from previous experience or the changes you need to make are overwhelming, find your team and slay this dragon.

FBS: Don’t Trust Anyone, Ever

Relationships and experiencing emotion in relationships (even hurt) is an important part of our mental health and well-being. 

FBS_Don't Trust Anyone, Ever
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

False Belief System (FBS): Don’t trust anyone because they will just let you down. 

The problem with this FBS is that people will let you down.  The opposite belief of “trust anyone because they won’t let you down” simply isn’t true.  So how do we think about this wisely and what is a healthy True Belief System (TBS)?

Relationships and experiencing emotion in relationships (even hurt) is an important part of our mental health and well-being.  So, let’s start by looking closer at the FBS.  “Don’t trust anyone” implies ALL people will let you down ALWAYS.  Of course, this simply isn’t true, but your guard is always up so it can feel true.  But ‘all people will let you down occasionally’, probably is true.  And, you will at some point let others down.

“You will just be let down” implies to be let down is bad, horrible, and you must control the relationship to not experience the pain.  My guess, is that when someone does let you down, you go into shut down mode in order to ‘not care’ and turn your emotions off.  Am I right?  It’s normal if you do.  The problem is once you start shutting down your emotions, it leads to shutting down all of your emotions because we can’t select to just turn off some emotions.  This leads to being numb, which leads to depression.

So…if I am right…the healing work that needs to be done is to list out those who have ‘let you down’ in the past, and actually let yourself FEEL the emotion of being let down; cry, get angry, have the regret.  Ask Jesus to come alongside of you to bring comfort, telling him of your emotions.  Share it with a few friends.  And then offer forgiveness.  Not because ‘they didn’t mean it,’ or ‘it was alright’ or ‘it didn’t matter’, but because IT DID MATTER and their actions were actually wrong and they hurt you.  You forgive by trusting the person and the hurt to God and letting God heal it.  To forgive does not mean that you need to trust the person who let you down.  But it also does not mean you can’t trust anyone.

You then trust God with the consequences their actions had on you.  For instance, if you told your best friend in 6th grade a secret and they told it to your class, that wrong needs to be forgiven.  It affected you.  You felt like you couldn’t tell anything about yourself to anyone and never learned to develop deep friendships again.  This affected your marriage because your spouse feels shut out and you ended up divorced.  You need to accept responsibility for your part of the fail marriage, but you also need to forgive your 6th grade friend again for the affect their actions had on you.

So, if “trust everyone because they won’t let you down’ isn’t true, what is a TBS I can go to?  One possibility is to replace the FBS with a TBS of “When people let me down, (because they will…I even let myself down) I can trust God because He is bigger than the disappointment.” God, in His amazing grace, can take any loss and bring good out of it (Genesis 50:20).  That never makes the original offense ‘good’, but we can expect good to come out of hurt when we trust God with it.

Or perhaps the new belief is “To love others well means I will be hurt by them.”  You see…God wants us to be conformed to HIS image.  He uses others to rub away our self-centeredness in order to sculpt us to His image.  If He is trying to help us be forgiving people (because He is a forgiving God) then what do I need in my life to become a forgiving person?  I must have people offend me.  There’s just no other way.

You see, relationship IS in the emotions.  If we deaden ourselves in our emotions so we don’t get hurt, we hurt ourselves because we end up in isolation.   In relationship, you will also experience joy, excitement, interest, a sense of not being alone, etc.  It’s all fine and dandy to sit and have an intellectual talk with someone, but you don’t have a relationship with them in the intellect.  If a person FEELS excitement or connectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel friendship.  But if a person FEELS dissension or disconnectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel like enemies.  So, relationship happens IN emotion.  It’s shared enjoyment in life that brings connectedness.  It’s hurt that brings disconnectedness.  When we shut down all emotion it brings isolation, even when people are present.

It doesn’t mean you trust everyone, but you learn to identify safe people who are willing to forgive you as well.  You will need to know how to process that hurt so you don’t shut down in isolation.  Being willing to experience hurt in relationship is a risk worth taking.