My Response is My Responsibility -- Part 2
The Sin in All of Us
All of us have within us a flawed character. Jesus called it sin. In fact, Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
Notice that Jesus said these things come “from within, out of the heart of men.” In other words, others do not cause me to react sinfully but reveal my choice to react sinfully.
I have evil thoughts because I have chosen to think bad things. I engage in sexual immorality because it was within my heart to do so. I have a hateful reaction even to the point of murder because it is in my heart. I have covetousness not because others have more and it is unfair but because I have not faced my sinful envy and discontent. I slander not because the other has brought on my bad-mouthing but because it is in my heart to bad-mouth people. The list goes on.
The apostle Paul also describes the carnal flesh. He too points out that all of this ugly stuff comes from within. No one is to blame but ourselves. Our response is not another’s responsibility.
He pens in Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Are you displaying outbursts of anger?
Do you experience ongoing strife, disputes, and factions?
Is there drunkenness and carousing?
None of these things are caused by other people but surge from within us. Oh, to be sure, we find justification to blame others. They caused our outburst of anger. They caused the dispute. Or, they caused me to get drunk by serving so much beer and wine.
Truth is, others do not cause us to sin but reveal our choice to sin and we are conveniently using them as an excuse.
Are You Irritated, Under Pressure, and Feeling the Heat?
A woman who watched the Love and Respect conference wrote a blog saying, "No matter what is done or said to you or about you and yours . . . to your face . . . behind your back . . . expected or unexpected—it’s not the person or the words that cause us to react in a negative way . . . the person or the words don't cause us to be shocked, angry, hurt, bitter, etc. . . . Those are choices we make! The person or the incident does not CAUSE us to act the way we do . . . it REVEALS the way that we are. So ask yourself . . . what is it that will spill out?"
Let me provide an analogy that shows this to be true.
A grain of sand in the human eye first irritates, and if ignored leads to an infection. Were a person never to deal with the infection in the eye, there could be loss of vision. One could go blind. That same grain of sand in an oyster first irritates, then leads to concretion and morphs into a beautiful pearl. This raises the question: Did the speck of sand cause the results in the human eye and cause the results in the oyster? Or did the grain of sand reveal the inner properties of the eye and the inner properties of the oyster? In both instances the grain of sand is an irritant that reveals the inner properties of each. The sand did not cause the outcome, otherwise we would have to be concerned whether a pearl would pop out of our eye the next time sand got in it.
Just like the sand, a large percentage of the people with whom we live, work, and play become irritants. But also like the sand, these irritants simply reveal who we are. They do not cause us to be the way we are.
Similar to the sand analogy is one I like to share about a rose and a skunk. When a rose is crushed under one’s foot, it gives off a sweet aroma. But when the same kind of pressure is applied to a skunk, a much different odor can result. As I like to say, when the pressure is on, do you smell like a rose or a skunk?
Still another analogy. How does the sun melt the butter and harden the clay? Why does the sun not harden the butter and melt the clay? Because the sun is not the cause of the results. The sun reveals the inner properties of the butter and clay.
How do we respond when irritated, under pressure, and feeling the heat? Do we blame others? Do we scream, “I wouldn’t lose perspective, stink at everything I do, and have these meltdowns and become so hardened if you treated me with love and respect! You cause me to have a miserable life. After all, when you love and respect me, I am happy. When you treat me with hostility and contempt, I am unhappy. Therefore, you are to blame"?
Or do we produce an oyster or release a pleasing aroma? When irritated, do we allow the grace of the Holy Spirit inside of us, along with the love, patience, and forgiveness given to us through Jesus, to ooze its way to the top and overflow like an erupting volcano?
My response is my responsibility.
Both Jesus and Paul were quite clear when discussing the sin inside every single one of us. In what ways have you seen the sin in your life pouring out of you as a response to a specific situation?
Why is it easier to try and blame other people or a specific situation as the reason for our negative responses than it is to relate it to the sin inside of us?
When has a moment of pressure or irritation caused you to react in a way you later regretted? How could a better response from you have helped the situation?
When have you reacted in a more positive way despite the moment of pressure or irritation that might have normally brought about a response you would not have been proud of? How did your positive response help the situation?