By Jennifer McAlister
I love how the clean slate of a brand-new year inspires us to live life better. While making New Year’s Resolutions, we are allowed to imagine the best version of ourselves as we contemplate what we want to do, who we want to become, where we would like to go, and what we would like to change. It’s exciting to think of how things could be. As for me, I’m giving up. I normally encourage people to be steadfast and persistent and never give up, but for 2018 I made a list of happiness killers that need to go, things we should all give up on.
GIVE UP THE “RIGHT” TO BE OFFENDED.
Have you noticed how easily offended our society has become? It’s embarrassing really. Seemingly overnight we’ve become an over-sensitive, finger pointing society who whines about everything. We’ve lost the ability to turn the other cheek and instead feel the need to personally right every wrong committed against us. I can’t throw too many stones since I’m offended by how easily everyone else is offended. Oh, the irony. But what would happen if I gave up my right to be offended? What would happen if everyone gave up their right to be offended?
It didn’t take long before I was able to put this newfound idea into practice when someone, you guessed it, offended me. Everything within me wanted to lash out and vindicate myself, but then I remembered… “give up your right to be offended.” This was hard! But I took my complaint to God and said, “I’m going to give up my right to be offended and I ask You to be my defender.” Then I went on with my day. I even forgot why I was upset because I wasn’t rehearsing the event over and over in my mind and adding fuel to the fire. When I gave up my right to be offended, in return, God gave me His peace as I trusted Him to be the defense of my life (Psalm 27:1).
The Bible clearly states that if you are a child of God, then He is your defender. We honor Him when we trust Him. I’m so thankful that Jesus modeled this for us. What if He hadn’t given up this “right” as He hung on the cross on our behalf? If anyone had the right to be offended it was Him. He was completely innocent but was treated as if He were the worst criminal in the world. He had the power to unleash His fury at any moment and vindicate Himself but in complete submission, He humbled Himself and trusted God the Father’s plan. He was obedient, even to death on a cross. The wages of sin are death so staying on the cross was necessary for Jesus to be able to die on our behalf so that we may live. Because of His sacrifice and His unwavering trust in God the Father, He conquered death and offers eternal life to all who look to Him to be saved. What a wonderful choice to give up His right to be offended and trust the Father’s plan.
GIVE UP COMPARISONS
How can we be thankful for what we’ve been given if we are constantly comparing our lot with others? The Bible say to rejoice when others rejoice but if we choose to compare instead of congratulate, we open a door for jealously and envy to enter. The Bible tells us in John 10:10 that we have an enemy that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. When we compare, our happiness is stolen as we minimize our blessings, the joy that comes from being genuinely happy for others is killed, and relationships are slowly destroyed as praise and affection are withheld.
COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY
God has specific plans for each of us and we need to remember that everyone’s story is different. We are all made differently with unique skills, personalities, and traits that God can use for our good and His glory. He doesn’t compare us to anyone else and loves us so much that He died for us. If we insist on comparing, then let’s compare how our life, both now and for eternity, would be without Jesus. Then with sincere gratitude, thank Him for all He has done for us and ask for His help to not compare anymore.
GIVE UP ASSUMPTIONS
One of the hardest, yet most rewarding, decisions we can make is to give up assumptions. Human nature tends to automatically assume the worst in others before we assume the best. The problem is, people tend to live up to our assumptions of them. If we choose to assume the best in others, we will be for them, treat them well, and encourage them. If we assume the worst, our hearts will become bitter and like the Bible says, a stranger will not share its joy. As face reflects face, they will most likely return whatever sentiments we choose to share. Since our thoughts will become words and our words have power, may we purpose to think on what is good, then use our words to bless. As individuals, we are our own worst critiques, so when someone assumes the best in us, it’s medicine for the soul. Assuming the best is not easy, but the good news is that we have plenty of opportunities to practice every single day.
GIVE UP EXPECTATIONS
The victims of this joy stealer, titled unmet expectations, are many. We make a huge mistake when we erroneously believe that other people or circumstances have the power to make us whole or happy. We forget that we are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world, yet we expect perfection. We expect that promotion at work, we expect our kids to always make good choices, we expect others to always be there when we need them. Problems arise when we look to anyone or anything other than God to fulfill our needs. Many a marriage has been destroyed when the husband or wife feels like their spouse is responsible for their happiness.
Years ago, I read a story about a missionary couple who had faithfully served others their entire life in a remote, third world country. The time had come for them to pass the baton and return home to the United States. After the plane landed, they looked out the window and saw a group of smiling people gathered around. The husband was overjoyed to see so many there to welcome them back. His joy was short lived when they got off the plane and realized the group wasn’t waiting for them but for a celebrity who was onboard their flight. With tears in his eyes and his expectations shattered, the husband whispered to his wife, “Not one person showed up for us, not a single one. Why? We’ve given our whole life for others and this is our reward?” The wife lovingly took her husband’s arm and gently reminded him of a glorious truth. “Honey, we aren’t home yet.”
The Bible tells us that no eye has seen or no ear as heard all the wonderful things God has in store for His children, but we need to remember that we aren’t home yet. Someday, our expectations will be exceedingly, abundantly met. In the meantime, we are being trained for eternity and trained to trust Him in every situation. Our story is still being written so let’s refuse to allow unmet expectations to rob us of our joy because the best is yet to come.
May God bless you in 2018 as we give up anything that keeps us from reaching our highest potential. Yes, we have an enemy that comes only to kill, steal and destroy but that’s not how the verse ends. It goes on to say that Jesus came to give life and life to the full. What a beautiful promise from a beautiful Savior.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.
The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy.
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–
1 Corinthians 2:9
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.