It’s Hard to Do the Right Thing, Especially When You Feel You’re Right
GEMS guest post by Wendy Blight
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).
Do you ever experience times where you know what you’re saying is wrong, but you say it anyway? Especially when you believe it’s justified? I had one of those days.
I teach Bible study. While at a party one night, I observed one of our study leaders engaging in behavior that shocked me. My stomach churned in a mix of grief and anger. Her blatant disobedience to what she knew was wrong left me frustrated and, honestly, angry.
Righteous anger. The kind God allows. Right? Ever experienced it? That justifiable anger that rises up when you know someone is not acting the way God instructs. That anger Jesus expressed when He walked into the Temple and found the moneychangers.
Righteous anger is a good thing. However, what we do with that anger is another matter.
Rather than going directly to the leader, I shared my feelings with a few other leaders. Was I gossiping? In the moment, I didn’t think so. I felt justified since she’d engaged in behavior that reflected badly on her, our leadership and mostly Jesus. When we choose to lead and teach, God holds us to a higher standard (James 3:1).
Our conversation validated my feelings because the other leaders agreed. I took comfort in how good it felt that I wasn’t alone.
The next morning, as I sat in church, God spoke directly to my “righteous” anger. Our pastor spoke about idle gossip and how our words matter.
Each word penetrated my heart like a double-edged sword.
I, too, was a spiritual leader. And, I too flagrantly disobeyed God’s Word as I spoke judgmental, unkind words behind my leader’s back.
Righteous anger? Not quite.
Idle gossip? Sadly, yes.
In the quietness of that moment, I felt conviction.
Not guilt. Not shame. But conviction.
The distinction between these emotions is significant. Guilt and shame are self-focused, unproductive emotions that leave us stagnant, in a bad place with God and others.
Conviction, on the other hand, is God-focused and productive. It’s spurred on by the Holy Spirit to point out our sin, speak truth into our hearts and empower us to change so we live in a way that’s pleasing to Him.
That day in worship, God reminded me of a truth that I have now committed to memory. Ephesians 4:29, our verse for today, speak what is helpful for building others up.
Within each of us lie weaknesses. Temptations that cause us to struggle.
The key is the ability to recognize our weaknesses and temptations. If we can’t recognize them, we certainly can’t address them. I don’t know about you, but that’s hard for me. Especially when I feel I can justify my sin.
The moment we invite Christ into our hearts, we’re “born again.” These two words sometimes carry a negative connotation, when in reality it’s the best news ever! It’s more than a fresh start or a new beginning. It’s a rebirth. The old is gone and the new has come. We receive a new nature, a new heart, a new name, and a new lineage.
The more we expose our hearts to God’s heart and His Word, the more He renews our minds. Our renewed minds view the world through an entirely new lens. We begin to think and act differently.
Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, our inward changes eventually translate into outward changes. Our transformed hearts lead us to speak and behave in completely new ways that enable us to honor and glorify God in every area of our lives.
Thank You, Father, for convicting my heart. I will give my best efforts to hold my tongue and only speak words that will build others up and benefit those listening. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Wendy is a wife, mother, author, Bible teacher, attorney, and the Biblical Content Specialist for Proverbs 31 Ministry’s Online Bible Studies. Her heart’s desire is to help women learn, pray, and know with confidence they can tackle any problem life presents through God’s Word. You can reach her at https://wendyblight.com.
© 2020 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.