Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Whipping Post

It never feels good to be someone else’s whipping post. Many people realize exactly just how painful that can be when they find themselves on the receiving end of another person’s verbal assault. We see it in the mainstream news, in the entertainment industry, politics, in the church and at home. It's everywhere. Words laced with poison can be just as excruciating emotionally or spiritually as physical blows, and those that wield words as a weapon are often quite skilled at using them.

When a person finally realizes the pain they caused another individual through their own misplaced anger and bitterness, it leaves them with a terrible sense of guilt. The more that God works on my heart, the more I find myself remembering times when I said or did something out of my own pain and bitterness that I would not want to say now that I've gone through healing. I try to make things right now as soon as I know I’ve said something that comes out wrong. I don’t want the enemy to have anything to use to drive wedges into my relationships. 

Words have great power and often the negative words are remembered long after they are forgotten by the one who spoke them. Those things set up barriers between hearts and make for invisible walls between us and others, whether we realize they are there or not. Sometimes those walls are suspicion, offense or guardedness because we aren’t sure if the other person can be trusted. Every wall is the result of a spirit of fear. Think on that for a moment. If we are not fearful of being judged or rejected by others, then we will trust them and be ourselves. We will know that our acceptance is based in love and not on performance. Trust is earned. Respect is earned. But love can only be given from the heart. It can't be forced. Loving others makes us vulnerable, and it makes them vulnerable to us, too. Are you willing to be vulnerable? Do you value trustworthiness in others? Then make sure to present yourself as one who can genuinely be trusted. It takes a focused effort to tear down those walls. The question we are faced with is, “Do we value the people in our life enough to confront those walls and make sure they are torn down?”

One thing I know is, it often takes time for God to get through to people to show them the error of their ways. Painful as it may be, some lessons need to boomerang back home and serve as a wake up call to ‘judge not' before the lesson is learned. (Matthew 7:1) Perhaps everyone has at one time or another blamed someone else for their pain and used them as their whipping post. But, what we may not understand at the time we are being lashed is that those things do require a response from us. Jesus told us to bless those that persecute us and pray for those that mistreat you, (Luke 6:28).

Let me just insert a brief testimony or two. There were a couple times in the past when (at two different times on two different jobs) men rose up to come against my husband. Both times it was people for no apparent reason that just opposed Norm. It was unprovoked and unwarranted. Both times we prayed for those men and prayed blessings upon the employers as well. The first man, unfortunately, had a tragic accident one week after trying to get my husband fired and died instantly. The second man was also removed through a string of events that ultimately left him without employment, but not before he also had a series of accidents and problems that caused a great deal of turmoil for him. Now, we only prayed for God to bless them, but those men were opposed to the Spirit of Christ in us, so they did not receive the blessing. Friend, let me tell you, you don't have to worry about people that come against you. God will take care of them if you do what the scriptures tell you to do. 

Listening to the wrong voices will cause us to believe things we shouldn't. We've all been there. Unleashed anger on someone undeserving of it. Said things we never should have said. Until you know what voices someone else has been listening to, you don't know how to understand them. You won't have compassion on them and you won't know how to pray for them. All you'll know is the hurt and anger from becoming their whipping post. When people lash out, the often blame others for what they feel internally:

Rejection, Fear, Embarrassment, Shame, Failure, Unacceptance and Unworthiness.

The result of those negative emotions then manifested in outward behaviors. When people pin their hurts, disappointments, and insecurities on those they feel are responsible for their pain, they will use their words to whip them. When opportunities arise, when both God and Satan test us to see what is in our heart, we must be careful not to chose to speak evil. There have been times, yes. We listened to the whispers of the enemy, and when we did, we spoke derogatory things with a malicious spirit because we could not stop the poison from leaking out of our hearts and out of our mouths. We wanted others to feel the pain we felt. We wanted them to feel as helpless or as hopeless as we did. We wanted them to feel intimidated by our wrath because we couldn’t seem to control them the way we desired. We couldn’t seem to punish them quite enough to our satisfaction because lust is never satisfied. We wanted their chances at promotion to be ruined because we felt that ours was out of reach, so we pulled every sin and weakness out of our memory banks and became the accuser. The voice in our own head that accused us, uses our mouth to accuse others, and we felt justified. We wanted others to reject the bane of our existence, for we felt that those particular people were ultimately responsible for our misery and unhappiness. After all, why should our nemesis enjoy the very things we deeply desire, yet cannot obtain? Do we not have a right to tell the world all the reasons why they irritate us and why we despise them so? If we are honest with ourselves, we must own the fact that our hearts were too small. We failed at love. Perhaps still. There were times when we wanted certain people to feel unaccepted by others because internally that is how the lie registered in our own heart. We felt a sense of rejection and then turned and projected it onto others. We wanted others to feel insecure about their future because that is how we felt about ourselves. We wanted them to know they didn’t deserve to be blessed, they were not forgiven because somewhere in our own heart our conscience testified that our own sin had not be forgiven. We must forgive before we can be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. We were jealous for the blessings others possessed. We felt it unjust. WHY were we not as blessed? Why? We wanted others to feel the brunt of our offense because we wanted them to know how deeply we blamed them for all of our pain. Whether it was the reality or not, that was our perception of the truth, and the version the enemy had written was allowed to become the story that prevailed. Satan’s lie became our truth, and every lie we accepted became a part of a twisted belief system. We could not accept a different version of the truth at that time. And so, we let it all out, and like the Pandora’s box it was, trouble followed. Death crept in like a silent fog at night. The pain that was unleashed through the toxic runoff seeped into every nook and cranny, permeating the floorboards, trickling down into the foundation and spread mold and mildew in unseen places, because that is what bitterness does. Bitterness desensitizes the heart, the mind, and the conscience, acting like spiritual leprosy. But, like leprosy, it continues to spread and eventually produces death. It will take over the entire house.

Our words carry the power of either life or death, and death should not feel at home in us. Never! Nothing with death attached to it should feel welcome. No one wants to dwell where maggots and worms feel comfortable. Yet, in far too many spiritual houses, the curse remains and the home owner is oblivious to the silent killer that dwells among them. Bitterness of course, is a murderer. The only thing it can do is to kill, steal and destroy because it originates from the Destroyer. When the one who brought the curse is allowed to remain, the curse remains as well. Barrenness, miscarriage, poverty, mysterious health issues and disease, broken relationships that cannot heal, to name a few. Fruitfulness, joy, increase, blessing and abundant life are kept at bay. Why? Because sins of the mouth have kept it away. Murdering others with our words is not a light thing, no matter how much one may feel justified.  A bitter root always produces death in some form.

We must cast out the enemy that scoffs at us, despises the Spirit of Christ, mocks God, and tempts us to continue to embrace the lies. That belittling spirit must go! Lies that tell us to blame others for our unhappiness. Lies that tell us that we are unaccepted, unloved or unworthy. Lies that project our pain onto someone else. Lies that tell us that someone else is responsible for our blessings being withheld. LIES!

We must own what we’ve said and done to open the door to the curse. We must own our own false belief system and acknowledge we have believed the lies of the enemy. We’ve let him shape us into something we’re not, and he’s used our mouth in unbecoming ways. We must repent in order for the curse to be broken and the blessings find their way back into our life. This is the only way to shut the mouth of the accuser and stop the mouth of those that speak those lies. We have to stop repeating them to ourselves and spewing them out to others!

When we’ve whipped another in our anger, we’ve done it to Jesus, too, for the scripture tells us that the way we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat Him as well. There is a principle there that cannot be ignored. Yet, in the parable of Matthew 25, as Jesus taught the people he used an example of either doing good works or a failure to treat others well. When they questioned Jesus as to when they treated him unjustly, this is how He responded.  

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' – Matthew 25:40

This must be the sword that pierces our own heart. We’ve done it to the Lord without knowing that’s what we were doing. The truth is, we all blow it from time to time. We let our emotions get the better of us. Sometimes it takes a certain type of stress factor (you might call it a ‘hot button’) to cause an emotional outburst, whether the response is carefully well planned or the result of spontaneous combustion, but how a person handles their emotions will reveal what’s really in their heart. If we have willfully or spitefully injured someone else (and that includes their reputation) then we also have a responsibility to make it right. Even if someone has intentionally done something that caused us pain, two wrongs do not make a right. Verbally degrading others, deliberately sharing their weaknesses and failures in an attempt at hindering their future prospects of acceptance with others, promotions or blessing – no matter how one may argue that it’s justified – comes from anger. God does not reward spite.

It's so important for us to discern the voice that tries to influence our behaviors. There is a root of bitterness in the land and the enemy speaks to us from that voice. The voice of bitterness encourages us to side with self-pity and make others our scapegoat. The voice of bitterness promotes division, anger and war. The voice of bitterness wants others to take up the offenses of others and take them as their own. The voice of bitterness looks for ways to judge and criticize others. The voice of bitterness blames others for our pain, disappointment and injustices and looks for opportunities to retaliate. The voice of bitterness echos a chorus of complaints and has become the new fad. It really is like a new addiction. Look at what bitterness has done in the recent riots and protests. Bitterness is a plague that must be stopped. The enemy's voice can only ever perpetuate death and destruction because Satan is a destroyer. If you hear a voice whispered into your ears, compelling you to embrace your anger, embrace your rage and act without thought of consequence, it is not the voice of God. It is the voice of the prince of the airwaves, and he must be silenced! Only mercy can silence the accuser. Only forgiveness can silence the agony of bitterness. Only love can repair what has been damaged.

I have a dream.
I want our children and families restored.
I want healing between the racial divide.
I want forgiveness to flow and for people to rise up to a higher standard. Indifference and bitterness should not be accepted as our new standard no matter what the world tells us we are 'entitled to.'
I want America back.The America that we once were, when we remembered how to be kind to one another.

We are judged according to the law of love. When someone asked Jesus the question,“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40.

When people fail to trust God they will attempt to take control of situations that are not theirs to control. They attempt to take justice into their own hands. God is a God of justice and he reminds us in His word that vengeance belongs to Him alone. He will mete out justice that is fair and compensatory for the injury sustained, if He feels it is warranted. Using others as a whipping post or blaming them for our unhappiness is a wrong perspective and leaves us guilty before God. It is to place all responsibility for our satisfaction and fulfillment in life upon others. Essentially, that is a form of odd idolatry that ought to be renounced even if we didn’t realize that’s what we were doing. The right perspective is to take responsibility for our own heart issues and take them to Jesus for Him to teach us where we have gone astray in our beliefs. We must not be afraid for God to scrutinize our heart and deal with us honestly, for He will certainly do so with or without our permission! The question is whether or not we are willing to grow up spiritually and own the darkness within so that we can be rid of it. Jealousy, resentment, slander or a desire for some form of vengeance directed towards others will not position us for restoration, promotion, increase or blessing. Forgiveness does. A guilty conscience cannot be cleansed without confession and repentance. There can be no forgiveness of sin without a genuine change of heart. God knows and the enemy knows when we feign repentance without a sincere change of heart! Until people bear fruits worthy of repentance the blessing and restoration of God that they ultimately desire will remain out of reach. This is how the curse is broken. Jesus became our whipping post so that in that demonstration of merciless cruelty, mankind would come to know the power of the love that never fails. As we become more and more like Him, we too, learn to love others better. We learn the power of forgiveness and awaken to a deeper understanding of what unconditional love really means. Really loving others means working through the emotional part of offense, until we can break through the feeling of resistance that wants to keep us from genuine forgiveness and loving again. Just as if there had not been a break in the relationship. God’s love can fuse the broken back together again in such a way that the place where the relationship broke is actually stronger than it was before. The enemy can no longer use the same type of trickery and deceit among those that are committed to learn from the past and recover what was stolen. This is the love of the cross. It restores what was lost, resurrects the things that have died with resurrection power and gives us fresh hope for a new day. This is the kind of supernatural love that puts every effort of the enemy to an open shame. This is the power of the love that never fails.

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