“It’s me not you” is a phrase often said during a break-up…but how many of us actually believe that? We really want to say “it’s not me…it’s really all you, totally you.”
I meet on Sunday evenings with a group of women for a bible study. A few weeks ago we were discussing some different things we had all been praying about. One of my friends shared that she had really been struggling with a bad attitude that someone else had. She shared that it was a struggle for her to pray that God would change her heart about the person instead of changing that person’s attitude.
Since that night, I’ve been thinking about her prayer. I can totally relate to her situation. 9 out of 10 times, I think it’s that person’s attitude, conduct, behavior that needs to change instead of me. When I think someone has “wronged” me the last thing I want to do is just forgive them. Or if I do forgive them, I want strings attached. I want that little joker to know I forgave him/her or others to know I forgave them. They need the prayers, not me. Those are the typical Amanda thoughts that go through my head.
So, why should I change my mentality?
After my friend brought this up, I kept thinking about her prayer. “Why should I be the one to pray for a heart change?” As I meditated on that thought I began to see how hypocritical it was for me to focus on someone’s bad attitude or conduct. In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul describes himself as the “chief of sinners.” Hold the phone, so Paul really thought he was a bigger sinner than someone like Judas Iscariot? (For those of you unfamiliar, Judas Iscariot was the apostle that ultimately betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins) Diving deeper into this verse it was clear that yes, Paul really did perceive himself as the biggest sinner. Why was that? Because Paul was more aware of his sin than he was anyone else’s. Obviously Paul knew that in theory other people were just as much a sinner as he was, but he thought about his own sin before he thought of theirs. J.D. Greear says this about Paul, “When Paul thought about a need for grace, he didn’t think of others first—he thought of himself.” By the way, I love this definition of grace by A.W. Tozer: “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.”
See, my problem is that I see the other person as the “chief of sinners” and not me. I can see their sin, but totally turn a blind eye to my own. If I understood my deep need for grace, I would be naturally inclined to extend this grace to other people. I love this quote from J.D. Greear’s book Gospel: “When you really believe the gospel, you see that you are first a sinner and only secondarily sinned against.”
Shoot…that cut straight to my heart. My problem is that I was going through life not being aware of how much I’ve been forgiven, because if I had, I would have a totally naturally extend forgiveness to others.
The Jerry Springer Final Thought:
(Sorry for the heading, I couldn’t resist)
Ultimately, God has given me the opportunity to love like He loves. Even if our showing of grace and mercy never changes the people we forgive, it changes us and that is God’s purpose for our lives…to change us into people who reflect His image.
By the way, I love this clip from Seinfeld…probably one of my favorite “it’s not you” moments…enjoy!