“Victims don’t want to be proactive about changing — they want to be proactive about making sure that the person who hurt them pays. . . . Thus we open the doors of our hearts and welcome in the Trojan horse of bitterness. And it stands there, a monument, a constant reminder of a debt someone has yet to pay.”- Andy Stanley (emphasis author’s)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”- Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
As Andy Stanley continues Chapter 13 of Enemies of the Heart, he adds to his insights on Ephesians 4:31-32. Pastor Stanley observes that the apostle Paul wrote these words from his cell in a Roman prison. Thus, he knew what went on in the real world. So, it’s in that setting that Paul instructs believers to get rid of all traces of bitterness and anger.
Furthermore, Andy notes, Paul doesn’t add conditions to his words. Extreme situations fail to qualify as exemptions. Often, though, Paul’s instruction sounds unrealistic. After all, our anger simply expresses our response to the people around us. We’re only reacting. Since it’s not our fault, there’s nothing we can do about it. Bottom line: we’re victims.
In addition, Pastor Stanley describes victims as:
- lacking any control over their lives
- at the mercy of others
- only able to react
- prisoners of circumstances beyond their control
- always ready with an excuse
- able to write off almost any kind of behavior
Also, Andy observes, feelings of victimization fuel our justifications and excuses. Plus, pain and hurt create what Pastor Stanley calls “an unassailable wall of excuses and rationalizations.”
As a result, in time we accept the lie that it’s okay to believe the way we do. And, in the end, the author stresses, we’ve zero incentive to change. Right now, somebody owes us. And in time, pastor Stanley cautions, everybody owes us.
Today’s question: What tempts you to welcome the Trojan horse of bitterness into your heart? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Hold out – the wait for payback”