Hurt People… hurt people

I have heard this statement before and yet it keeps playing over and over in my mind like a catchy love tune or a heartbreaking country ballad. If we look at the statement for a minute, it’s really quite profound, hurt people… hurt people. Is that an excuse? Is it a justification? I think it can be as simple as an observation or as deep as a life changing revelation. That part is really up to each of us, wouldn’t you agree?
I have shared many times about my horrible past and how much all that pain affected who I had become. At some point I realized that my past and present pain, pain which officially categorized me as a “victim,” caused me to become a victimizer to others. Not just others, but the others I care about the most. When confronted with my actions, it was easy to point to my pain as my excuse, after all I was hurting too much to see past my own pain.
Here is a secret; I still hurt. I hurt a lot. When I remember my past abuse, it hurts. When my daughters hurt, I hurt. When my friends and family hurt, I hurt. But now, that pain is no longer a license to hurt others. Why you may ask? What has changed? Well, the insight into my actions and how they affect others. I had to decide to look past my momentary pain, as horrific as I thought it was, and consider those I love. It isn’t easy but I have to do it every time I feel overwhelmed with pain, loneliness or disappointment.
I know that God is a forgiving God and that if I fall, He will forgive me. So then, do I go forward in that pain only thinking of misusing God’s grace? I could quote Paul in Romans 7:20 “Now, if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it,” or I could reference 1 John 3, “4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”
So, wait a minute. We all sin and even Paul struggled but then John is saying that we won’t continue to sin if we know Him? Are these guys on the same page? I think Paul helps a little more in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13:
“12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
We are all going to be tempted but not beyond what we can bear in Christ because a way out will be provided. Will we still fall sometimes? Sure, but then we get back up and try to look for the way out next time. We do not continue in our sin knowing there is a way out. If I decide to continue in my sin, hiding it from others… what would be the point? After all, am I fooling the Holy Spirit? If I do that, would I not grieve the Holy Spirit in my darkness? If my sin is brought to light and I claim there was no way out, does that mean God is a liar? Did He fail me in that place and give me more than I could bear with no way out?
As a leader in the church, am I held to another level of accountability? Hebrews 13:17 says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” So, I am going to give an account for my walk and account for those God asked me to lead. Yes, that is another level of accountability. Imagine if I abuse that authority and trust. Man, I would be scared to face God because I accepted that position knowing I’d be tempted like He promised but continued to live in bondage to my sin. Similar to how Adam tried to blame Eve for his sin and then blame God for giving Him Eve– it just doesn’t fly. And although Adam and Eve were sorry and God still loved them, they were expelled from the garden.
I share this to say that God allows all to fall and He allows us to get back up again. He also sets forth standards for His leaders and the importance of protecting His flock. If we as leaders choose to abuse or misuse not only the trust of HIS people, but also the calling of God, the devastation of our actions will run wide and deep. We cannot simply say, we are human, nor should we look for excuses. We should step back so He can allow his people to heal from our betrayal. I would personally plant my face on the floor and beg God to reveal the truth that is in my heart. Am I a fallen leader? Am I a wolf in sheep’s clothing? That may sound extreme to you but so many of the leaders we see on T.V and radio these days are lost. Whether they are taking advantage of God’s sheep physically, psychologically or financially, a sin is a sin right? Do they all know they are being used by the wrong God? I doubt it. The thousands who follow them would disagree that they are false teachers or wolves in disguise. So, although I think I know God, when I realize how dark my thoughts can run and how often lust knocks at my door, I better question my heart and who my master is. If I don’t, then perhaps I’ve placed myself on the same pedestal that others place leaders on.
My next blog will deal with forgiveness and reconciliation. Do they always go hand in hand?

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