It’s Valentine’s Day!!
For some people, it’s a day set aside specifically for time with their romantic partners. For others, it’s the biting reminder that they are alone.
My parents always made Valentine’s special for us growing up, and they still do. I think their way of celebrating helped me see Valentine’s as a time to be generous with love rather than just a romantic holiday. Isn’t that what we need more of today? Generous love?
I’m sure you’ve heard the adage “hurt people hurt people.” Basically, it’s the idea that someone who has been hurt emotionally will transfer that pain to someone else, intentionally or not. We can all attest to this. I see children hurt one another on the daily by lashing out verbally or physically, and I have yet to see it happen for no reason. I may not see the reason as being justifiable, but there is a reason.
Let’s just play this idea out: You slept terribly last night and traffic was horrendous on your way to work. You’re tired, irritated, and frustrated that you’re running late. As you run into your office, a co-worker stops to tell you about his Valentine’s plans. You just cannot right now, so you snappily cut him off. He huffs off, irritated by your rudeness, and bumps into the secretary. She drops her papers, but instead of helping pick up the mess, he criticizes her for not watching where she was going.
And it goes on and on and on.
Each party is at fault here; each person is responsible for his or her own actions. Pain can be a contributor to how we act, but it can never be an excuse. But what I want you to understand is that if not handled correctly, pain can create a vicious cycle. This is where generous love comes in.
Eventually, someone has to stop the cycle. We live in a world that is constantly at war with pain and suffering. Every day we interact with people who are hurting, whether we see it or not, and we have the choice to pass that pain on by inflicting it onto another person or stopping it by pouring out love on those who are hurting.
In order to do this, one of the most important things that we need to remember is that our battles are not against each other. Paul made this clear in Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). Our battles are against Satan and his hold on this world. We are called to stand against him and his schemes, not each other. But Satan’s a smart guy, and he knows this. He knows that hurt people hurt people, and he knows that in our pain we tend to lash out at one another. Satan is the great deceiver; he knows the lies he needs to plant in your head to turn you against someone else. All Satan needs to do is encourage frustration and bitterness between believers, and if we’re not careful, that will lead to crumbling within the Church.
It’s so tempting to fight back when someone hurts you. When someone accuses you of doing something wrong, it’s so easy to throw back, “Yeah, but you did ______!” I think our desire to defend ourselves outweighs our desire to promote gentleness. But sometimes, the best thing for us to do is sit back and let God handle it.
To give up control and let God take care of things is not easy. I will 100% admit that. However, God’s outcomes are always better.
Pharaoh had finally given Moses permission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but he changed his mind. Scared of losing free labor, he rallied his troops and marched after the Israelites, determined to take back his slaves. The Israelites start freaking out, swearing that Moses rescued them just so they would face certain death in the wilderness (this is a common anthem of the Israelites because they’re totes annoying). For real though, the Egyptian army charged towards them from behind and all they saw before them was the Red Sea. Their panic is pretty understandable. Could you imagine what would have happened if they tried to fight against the Egyptians, though? It would be a slaughter. The Israelites weren’t trained in battle; they had no idea how to form ranks or stand against a cavalry.
So what does Moses tell them to do? Be still. God will fight for them, they just have to stay calm (Exodus 14:14).
Wait, what. K, Moses, we’ll just stand here while thousands of armed soldiers charge us. That’s fine.
But that’s when God moves. He splits the Red Sea. Walls of water rise on both side revealing a dry road for the Israelites to cross on, a path that will be completely submerged the moment an Egyptian foot touches down.
See, here’s the great thing: We’ve already won. Our victory is already secure. We don’t need to fight against one another because it ultimately doesn’t matter. We are more than victorious through Jesus; the overwhelming victory is ours because of what He’s done. Just like Moses and the Israelites. They didn’t need to fight against the Egyptians because God already took care of it. All they had to do was trust that He would do what He said He would do.
Our job is not to fight one another. Ironically, it’s the exact opposite: We are called to stand with one another (Galatians 6:2). Instead of tearing other people down, we are called to encourage and build them up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). A mindset like this is counter-culture to our society. Typically, society tells us to point out the faults of others and inflate our own good qualities in order to get ahead. We’re encouraged to push productivity over relationships, to take care of our own business rather than engage in the problems of others.
There are plenty of instances where the Bible shares the benefits of standing alongside someone else. By forming relationships that encourage one another, we have people to help us up when we fall down (Ecclesiastes 4:10). See, God doesn’t ask us to support one another just for kicks and giggles (sometimes, God has practical reasons for why He tells us to do things. Crazy, I know). God hard-wired our brains to need relationships; He created us as social beings. According to an article published in 2015, productivity, accountability, and collaboration rise when people have close relationships with their coworkers. Surprisingly, those we see every day in the workplace have the potential to make us happier than earning $100,000 more a year would.
We are created to live life in a community. We are created to need people surrounding us. None of us are strong enough to handle life alone. This world is too harsh and Satan is too relentless for us to keep defending ourselves on our own. I think this is one reason why God intended that the Church be made up of so many different personalities, so we could all find our tribe.
Pain is going to happen. That’s one thing we can be absolutely sure of. But we have the choice of whether we are passing on pain or love. You and I have the power to stand against the devil’s schemes and extend a hand of generous love rather than inflict our pain on others.
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or send me a message here.