God’s Enabling Power
I pointed out several Scripture passages to Jerome Weller. One was 2 Corinthians 4:7-10:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed–always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
The Apostle Paul spoke here of trouble, perplexity, persecution, rejection. All these had happened to this man. But Paul also said there is a power that will enable a man to face such treatment without distress, despair, self-pity, or ruin. It is the power of God. I discussed this with Jerry Weller, but at the time it seemed to mean little to him. I spoke of the end products of distress, pointing out that definite bodily changes are involved. Blood pressure, respiration, digestion can be affected, I said. Freedom from distress means that the body will function normally. But his body was upset.
“Are you suggesting that I am my own problem?” he asked. “Are you saying that you would have acted differently had you taken what I took?”
I assured him he was his own problem. Then I reminded him of one of Jesus’ statements: “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). This, I said, should be his attitude toward the man who had fired him.
Weller became furious with me. How could I be so lacking in sympathy and understanding? Now he was upset not only at the engineer, but at me as well.
Who was this man hurting when he carried his grudge around within himself? Who was affected when he sat in his chair in Michigan and seethed over a man who lived 700 miles away? Obviously, he was hurting only himself. Who is hurt when you get upset over someone who isn’t even in your presence? You, of course.
There is a power that will enable you to face your circumstances without distress. It is the power of God, made available to you through the dying of the Lord Jesus. God’s power–-and His alone–-can make you want to forgive one who has misused you. But Jerome Weller did not want to forgive that engineer. He wanted to get even.
He argued that he had a right to be bitter. I agreed he did and would agree with anyone who stoutly stood on his right to be angry and unforgiving over a wrong done to him. It is your privilege to be upset, to be miserable. As long as you insist on retaining your misery, you will have it.
The knowledge of sin, however, does not eliminate it or the problems that sin causes. Wise is the man who heeds the advice of the Apostle James:
Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was (James 1:22-24).
The exhortation here is to those who want to be free from their misery, who want to be lifted out of their sin. But wasn’t it strange that my counselee who said he wanted relief from his upset condition became all the more upset because I told him he did not need to be upset? One would think he would have seized the opportunity to shed his spirit of bitterness and hate. But that’s not man’s nature.
For many persons, to yield bitterness and hatred in exchange for a tender heart toward someone who doesn’t deserve it would not be blessed relief, but great sacrifice. Like the general manager, untold numbers of persons would like to be free from their aches and pains, but if to be rid of them means to relinquish a long-standing grudge, they would rather ache.
There in his walnut-paneled, softly lit office we were locked in a struggle. If I had told him that his grudge was normal and that probably I would have acted the same way, he might have enjoyed some relief, but the inner sore would have continued to fester and spread its poison.
Willing to Yield
It is a mystery how a man finally quits fighting and turns to God for a spirit of love toward someone who does not deserve it. All we know is that there is generally a struggle before a man yields.
But when he does yield, his problem is nearly over. The Bible says it is your move. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
One day, Jerry Weller did turn Godward for help. Today his digestive disorder is over, his aches and pains are gone. He is at peace with himself and with the man who had abused him. Jerry is enjoying God’s peace, the fruit of the Spirit, in his life.
How does this change come about? By confessing or acknowledging that you have done wrong, that you have sinned. David wrote this about his sin: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5).
When Weller paid attention to his own reaction to the other man’s sins, instead of concerning himself with the man’s sins, he found himself on the road to peace.
To see your sin is disturbing only if you fight what you discover. If, instead, you admit it and seek help from God, the result is not guilt but an overwhelming sense of forgiveness, cleansing, renewal, and peace.
The pathway to spiritual peace is a struggle. Discover the truth about yourself and you will naturally shrink from it; become offended and defensive and you will be bound in the strong fetters of your sin.
But what a difference you will find if you heed the promise of Jesus: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b-32).
Questions for review:
- In Isaiah 53:6, Isaiah pinpoints the reason why there is so much conflict between individuals. What is that reason?
- What did the psalmist say in Psalm 119:165?
- Why do many people quickly turn aside from the Bible?
- Have you, like Jerome Weller in the lesson, experienced a situation in which you were treated badly by someone else and tended to dwell on that experience? How did that make you feel? Who were you hurting by nursing a grudge?
- When Jerome Weller paid attention to ______ ______ __________________ to the other man’s sins, instead of concerning himself with the man’s sins, he found himself on the road to _______________. Are you willing to do the same?
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