Psalm 139:23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Scripture plays a critical role in our lives in helping us respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It forms the framework upon which we can evaluate whether something within us is right or wrong – whether a behavior is offensive or wicked (KJV).
A major problem that we have with the more subtle sins is that we don’t see or recognize them. We can be blind to them and their deadly work. It’s like our grasp of the obvious has been turned off. We’re clueless to the red warning light flashing on the dashboard before us.
We might be blind due to the hardness of our hearts, or the blindness may stem from certain behaviors being well established habits. Praise God when He opens our eyes to see behaviors and attitudes in our lives that are negative and hurtful, both to us and to others.
There is a 3 letter word that can be a source of much pain and even sin. It is the source of a most negative life habit that afflicts us all. It is the word “Why?”. Our response to this word profoundly affects our communications, thoughts, attitudes, behavior and relationships. Unfortunately, once we start contemplating it, our response almost always leads us to sin and we’re not even aware of it.
Consider the following situations:
- A friend walks by you and doesn’t speak to you.
- Your spouse forgets something important.
- Someone doesn’t return your smile.
- Someone is curt with you.
In each of these and a myriad of other circumstances our natural (fleshly) tendency is to immediately think of the question, “Why did they do/say that?” “Why?” wants to know the motivation that precipitated the action we question. “Why?” wants to know what the reason is so we can judge whether or not we think it’s valid. Should we be offended or hurt? Maybe they aren’t a true friend after all, and so on…
The problem is that judging motives is forbidden by scripture. It is something we are to avoid like the plague. Romans 14:10a raises the question, “You, then, why do you judge your brother?” Instead of looking to judge, a more redemptive practice would be to use such behaviors as triggers for prayer. Instead of indulging our own insecurities, we need to focus our trust upon the Lord. Allow perceived negative behaviors to roll off us like water off a duck’s back.
Instead of “Why did they do that to me?” perhaps our response could be, “O Lord Jesus, they must be struggling today. Please show them your grace and mercy.” Instead of taking affront, we should respond with grace.