Posted on September 25, 2013
#21: Choosing Right When Wrong Feels Better
Welcome to our study, Knowing Jesus! Last week, we completed Mark 3. (In the archives you’ll find any posts you missed.)
By the end of this study, we’ll have a pretty detailed picture of the life of Christ via the inspired pen of Mark—and we’ll have learned so much about how God-in-flesh lived the human journey! He did it flawlessly. The more we can imitate Him, the more we can please God.
We’ll also save ourselves a lot of heartache in the process. Because the truth is, sister, sin always brings heartache eventually. It may feel good in the beginning, but it’s always a trap that leads to no good.
Read Mark 3.
We looked at three important issues in this chapter:
• the ugliness of envy
• betrayal and bitterness
• the heartache of an unbelieving family.
The first is a personal challenge, while the other two may be somewhat beyond our control. A common factor, though, is that all three can lead to a load of misery. And all three can be conquered by prayer.
The Prayer Remedy for Envy
Consider envy, for example. Who doesn’t love a good pity party? When you’re driving a rusty old car, it feels right to envy a friend’s shiny new BMW. When you’re dressing to go to your minimum-wage job, you can’t help thinking how nice it would be to have a six-figure income like so-and-so. If you’re lonely, your sister’s long parade of friends is frustrating. When your marriage is struggling, it’s only natural to mutter, “If only my marriage was like hers!”—right?
Wrong! Paul told his young friend Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6 NIV—italics mine) He went on to say, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (v. 10) Whether we’re coveting money or a promotion or friends or a healthy marriage, or any one of a thousand other desires, we’re sacrificing contentment.
Contentment is an expression of trust that God is supplying all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). We need to try harder with what we’ve got rather than waste time wishing for another person’s life (which we can be sure has challenges of its own). When envy rears its head, pray to be content with your own circumstances and possessions.
The Prayer Remedy for Betrayal
Then there’s betrayal. It’s undeserved and it hurts. We feel completely justified in bitterly resenting the one who betrayed us. We soothe our wounds by garnering sympathy from anyone who will listen to how unfair it was. To a degree, it feels good to wallow in our pain.
The antidote? Jesus said, “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Mt. 5:44) Do you think He prayed for the Pharisees? Yes, for the very ones who followed Him around doing their best to tarnish His reputation, to trap Him, and ultimately to kill Him. He prayed for them. He wept over them. He died for them.
Will you follow His lead, give your pain to God, and only open your mouth to talk about your betrayer in prayer? It’s a big, blessed challenge. Pray.
The Prayer Remedy for Family Heartache
As for the pain of unbelieving family? We can wish it was different. We can envy (oops, there’s that word again!) those whose entire family is in Christ. We can nag. We can fret about how hard it is. We can use it as an excuse to not serve or give.
Or we can creatively live out Christianity, praying all the while that God will use our humble, quiet example to win our unbelieving family members (whether spouse, parents, siblings, or children). Do you faithfully pray for your much-loved family? and for your own witness?
In the case of an unbelieving spouse, Peter urged wives to keep quiet and live Christ. He said their husbands “may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pet. 3:1b). You’ll get further by praying than by talking. Are you praying?
“Satan trembles, turns, and flees
at the weakest Christian on her knees.”
When you’re tempted to revel in the misery of wrong, choose to do what’s right. Pray!
© Diane McLoud 2013