- “ 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This study will be wrapping up tomorrow, but no study series is complete without taking time to stop over in 1 Corinthians 13…the love chapter. If you ever want a picture of how God loves us…just read this chapter. If you ever want a picture…husbands…as to how we are to love our wives…read this chapter. In reality…this is also the way we’re to love one another whether people are in the body of Christ or not.
So, today’s message is titled Suspicious of Suspicion, and I’m really interested to know how Joyce gets the title for this message of our this passage of scripture. So, I’m not going to be long-winded here in the introduction. Grab your Bibles, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and let’s see how Joyce ties love and suspicion together.
In today’s scripture, these words about love are familiar to most of us, but I can honestly say that living them has not always been easy for me. As a child, I was not exposed to this kind of love–in fact, I was taught to be suspicious of everyone. I was told that the motives of other people were not to be trusted.
Right out of the gate Joyce helps us to understand where she’s going with the title of this message. I started out as a child wanting to believe the best in everyone, and I did. As a young adult, however, that sense of purity and wanting to believe the best in everyone turned into believing and trusting no one…not even God. I had a skeptical view of everyone, and never really got to trust that anyone’s motives were pure at all…not even my own. That is not a good place for an aspiring man of God to be. I was never truly able to allow the love of God that has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit out because I had such a hard time not being suspicious and skeptical of anyone.
After all, when the people you believe the best out of turn around and burn your behind time and time again…you tend to learn to do things to stop being burned. One of those things is to put up walls, and build a nice protective shield of skepticism. You learn to keep everyone…including those closest to you at arms distance, and instead of bringing them in during the times you need them the most…you push them away further because eventually you learn the only one you can truly depend upon is yourself.
That was my attitude for most of my adult life, and even since I’d rededicated my life to the Lord my attitude was that everything would be handled by my and God. Which is a great thing for developing your relationship with God, but not so great for developing relationships with other people. The mentality of living life just me and God really taught me that I can truly rely upon God, and I learned much from life on life’s terms that way. However, I can also tell you that it was a lonely time because I had relatively little human contact, and those I did have contact with were only allowed to be so close to me…because of my suspicions and skepticism. I knew that the Lord wouldn’t ever hurt me, I knew that God was never out to hurt me, but when it came to other people…I began to assume that everyone would hurt me…or that I would hurt everyone I came into contact with…and I would because I never learned how to express the love in my heart towards others.
In earlier messages I may have mentioned that probably the first 36 years of my life could be summed up in the words of Johnny Cash’s version of the song “Hurt”.
When you hear a song like this and tears roll down your face because you relate to it in so many ways that you just can’t explain it…you reach a point where you realize that the wrong person has written the story of your life. At least, I figured that out the first time I heard this version of this song. I know. It originally was release by Nine Inch Nails, but the reflective tone in which Johnny Cash sings this song caught me, and made me realize that I needed to put the pen down…and let God start writing.
While it is wise to be aware of people’s motives, we must be careful that we don’t allow our suspicious nature to negatively affect our feelings about everyone. An overly suspicious nature can poison your mind and affect your ability to love and accept other people.
Sadly just as I was able to see my life in light of a Johnny Cash song I can also relate to what Joyce writes here about having such a skeptical mind about everyone’s motives and intentions that it saps your ability to truly love anyone else because you never really learn to trust anyone else. When your constantly skeptical and suspicious of people then there’s no room for the ability to trust, and when there’s no trust there’s no relationship. You spend most of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop so that when that person hurts you, and it’s inevitable that they will…even though it still stings…it hurts less and less because you shield your heart, and it becomes hardened and calloused…and even worse…eventually you don’t have emotions…you become numb.
Consider this example.
Suppose a friend approaches you after a church service, and says, “Do you know what Doris thinks about you?” Then the friend tells you every detail of the things Doris said. The first problem is that a true friend wouldn’t share such information. And the second problem is that with an already suspicious mind, you now believe secondhand information.
Suppose that one day in church, Doris is sitting just a few rows in front of you, praising the Lord. Immediately you think, “She’s such a hypocrite.”
Then the Holy Spirit directs your thoughts to your own condition, and the fact that you were praising the Lord while harboring bad feelings toward Doris.
Yes. Has anyone other than me ever been in this place? I’ll admit I’ve been here a time or two. You know what happens and how this example ends just like I do:
Didn’t Jesus tell us to make peace with others before we present our gifts to Him? (See Matthew 5:24.)
Convicted by these words of Jesus, you apologize to Doris for the bad feelings you have toward her…and she stares at you in absolute shock. Then you realize your mistake. You misinterpreted the information your friend shared with you about Doris, allowing the devil to turn you against a wonderful, godly woman.
Here’s a quick tip that’s free of charge. Never believe second-hand information. Don’t listen to gossip, and don’t be one who spreads gossip. The Bible has a lot to say in Proverbs about being a talebearer. I would encourage you to take your concordance and look up “talebearer” and see how God views those kinds of people. Never…ever accept second-hand information as fact…especially in this situation. I have learned to go directly to the person in question, and let them know that an un-named source had brought it to my attention that you have said this about me. Give them the opportunity to give merit or disprove what was said…and rely upon the Holy Spirit to help you to discern whether or not that person is being truthful.
Don’t go confronting someone with a skeptical ear, and don’t go there angry. Take some time to seek the Lord, and then find out if what they supposedly said was said or misinterpreted. It saves a lot of hassle, and it’s much better to do it that way than any other way.
This is a good example of how suspicion can cripple relationships and destroy our joy while it leads us astray.
So, now that I’ve put down the pen to my life, and allowed God to write the rest of my life’s story it’s been a better road. I am still learning to overcome that suspicious mind, and that’s one of those giants I’m going to have to defeat before I enter into the promised land that God has for me. I definitely have to do so before I wind up serving the Lord full-time. You can’t serve the Lord with a suspicious mind…I have to get back to the place I was as a child…always believing the best in people. There is such a thing as “healthy skepticism”, but for the most part I like to refer to that as discernment from the Holy Ghost. Oh…and there’s a new song to my life as well.
Let me just take a moment to ask you a simple question to close out this message…Who has the pen and is writing the story of your life?
Conclusion & Prayer:
It took me a while to overcome a lifetime of suspicions, but I finally learned that when we love God’s way, we have no place for suspicions of others.
As I shared, it has taken me a while to overcome that myself, and I am still overcoming the skepticism that had invaded my life for so long. It became a save and protective shell that really was more like an egg-shell than that of a turtle. However, the longer I worked at that shell the harder it got. The good news is that the Word of God says that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. So, I believe that God’s softening my shelf and my heart, and that eventually I’ll get to having the heart of flesh that ministers need in order to effectively minister to the sheep in which the Lord entrusts to our care.
Pray: Lord, I thank You for showing me how to overcome my suspicious nature by teaching me how to love others with Your kind of love. Thank You, Jesus, for being patient with me and for being my great example. Amen
I guess I feel like posting songs that reflect God’s work in my life:
- Quotes are from the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.
* Johnny Cash– ‘Hurt”
* Michael English“Feels like Redemption “
* Klaus: “I Give You Glory”