Jump Start # 3278
Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
It happens all the time. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times it is a simple mistake. I’m talking about being ignored, not included, not invited, even avoided. Those things can hurt. They can happen in the most innocent ways. I saw it the other day. A group were standing around after services. One came up and hugged this one, then that one, then another one, but one wasn’t hugged. Did he feel slighted? Did he feel less important than the others? Why hug most but not all? And, it’s simple, innocent things like that, people remember. It sticks like mold on a wall. And, out of that arises bitterness. And, I expect one of the greatest reasons why people switch congregations or drop out completely is that they don’t feel accepted. Everyone else is invited, but me, and I notice. Everyone else is asked for their input, but me, and I notice. Always on the outside. Always excluded. Always left looking through the window but never invited in. Lonely, hurting, feeling unloved and not wanted, the sad disciple walks away with his head hung low.
This happens. This happens in family settings. This happens in the church family. The simple solution is stop doing this. Include everyone. That seems like such an easy fix, but some don’t want others invited, included and to be in their circle of friends.
What to do when you are left on the outside? What to do when it seems people do not want you around? How does one handle slights?
First, remember God isn’t this way. God loves all of us. Jesus went to Samaria. Jesus went to the home of tax collectors. Jesus cast demons out of a Canaanite girl. Jesus healed the servant of a Roman soldier. Jesus prayed for Roman soldiers at the cross. You may feel like you belong on the island of misfit toys, and that may be the way you are treated, but not by God. His grace, His love, His blessings flow equally to you as anyone else. He hears your prayers as much as anyone else.
Second, realize that Satan would love to drive a wedge between you and your church family. Unity is powerful. Fellowship is strong. If Satan can get us upset with one another, we take our eyes off the goal, we stop what we ought to be doing and we begin to think ill thoughts of one another. Our verse today strings six very negative words together. They are all connected to each other. One naturally leads to the next. And, when these six words are filling our hearts, it’s hard to worship. It’s hard to be joyful. It’s hard to think of the church as a family. It’s hard to enjoy fellowship. One looks for the door and ducks out as quickly as possible. Satan wants you to be bitter towards your brethren. Satan loves it when we take sides. Brother against brother takes the attention off of fighting the devil, the real enemy.
Third, realize that sometimes what happened was innocent. A person simply forgot to include others. It was an innocent overlook. They did not mean to exclude you. They did not mean for you to not be hugged. Some of this falls to us. We can be master builders of making mountains out of mole hills and creating problems in our minds that do not exist in reality. Our reaction and our response towards these people says a lot about who we are and our character. Because we were left out, do we now avoid that person. Do we treat them like we believe they have treated us? Some how in all of this, our emotions get the best of us, and how quickly we forget the golden rule. Oh, yes, that golden rule! Treat others the way you want to be treated. They may not treat you the same way, but that won’t change how you treat them. Carry a smile. Be pleasant. Don’t drop those little bombs like, “Well, I would have come, but I wasn’t invited. No one likes me.” The only person that enjoys a pity party is the one who creates it. So, be bigger than that. Don’t carry grudges. Don’t invite others and purposely exclude one because you think she doesn’t like you.
Treat others better. Don’t keep track of those hurts.
Some need to really spend some time with Jesus, because they don’t get it. They hurt the kingdom by their petty thoughts and their insider club mentality that only certain people can be a part of. Jesus is not like this. They are not showing the world Jesus by this childish behavior. Hurting the little ones doesn’t set well with Jesus. The more of the world that is in us the more we hurt one another. The more that Jesus is in us the more understanding, grace and love will flow from us.
Ignored. Excluded. Left out. Not invited. I’ve been there. It hurts at the moment, but focus upon what you have in the Lord. Don’t allow bitterness to ruin your heart and the fellowship that you need.