How to be a Light to the World part 3: Do no harm

How can we be a light to the world? How can we set ourselves apart from how the world acts in times of adversity. How do we rise above the temptation of vengeance? 🤔Let’s discuss!

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In today’s message we continue in our series on how to be a light to the world.  Please be sure to check out our other messages in this series:

As a recap, here are the topics we plan to explore:

  • Show kindness
  • Help those who are in need
  • Do no harm
  • Honor your temple (body)
  • Pray


In this third message in our series, let’s discuss the concept of doing no harm.

The world can be a difficult place. Greed, ego, selfishness and envy are just a few of the things that are at the root of why someone would do harm to another.

Humanity has a long history of conflict and war.  War has killed anywhere between 150 million and 1 billion people in recorded history.  With this sobering statistic, it can be easy to see how our human nature can be so desensitized to causing harm to another. 

When we zoom into our day to day life, there are so many ways that we can find ourselves in a position to do harm to another.  Let’s touch on a few ways and examples.

  • Envy and greed can foster a temptation for theft.
  • Impatience and selfishness can foster a temptation for dishonesty and deception.
  • Pain and anger can foster a temptation for vengeance.

     

None of these are the ways God would have us approach a challenge in our lives. Walking with God means that we can be rest assured that whatever our circumstances may be, he is greater than any challenge we could possibly face.

I want to zero in on two ways that our walk with God can help us to do no harm.

First, let us talk about peace.

Walking with God does not mean we will never have a problem in our lives, but it does mean that we can ask God to equip us with the tools, wisdom and resources to handle problems when they arise.

Peace is a virtue that can be difficult to come by without a close and intimate walk with God.  It is part of our human nature to react in potentially destructive ways in the face of challenges. Only God can provide us with a level of peace that overcomes the will for conflict and strife.  Only God can provide us with a level of peace that defies understanding.

Only God can provide us with a level of peace that defies understanding.

I’d like to share a personal example with you.  Does anyone within the sound of my voice have a family member that can frustrate you from time to time? Even anger you?  Do you have a family member that acts in such a way that they exasperate you to the point of raising your voice out of frustration?

If you don’t, consider yourself very fortunate.  I do.  I confess that even as I walked with God there is a member of my family that acts in a way that gets under my skin.  This individual behaves in such a way that actually is harmful to others in my family. 

There was a time that when they would do these actions, I would lose my temper.  I would lose my temper in a way I never have in my entire life.  I confess that I know I have yelled and screamed out of anger towards this individual out of complete and utter exasperation and frustration. 

Over time, I realized my actions and reactions to this individual were not helping and that I in fact was certainly causing some level of harm towards them. There came a point that I confessed to God that I knew this was not how he would want me to act and so I started praying – every day – for help in bringing peace into my heart. 

I prayed that this individual would be equipped with the knowledge and wisdom to not do the behavior which I knew was harmful to others and I prayed I would be calm when dealing with this individual – especially during or following bad behavior from them.

I can tell you that over time in the next instances of harmful behavior from this family member, I did not blow my top, I did not lose my temper.  Was I upset? Yes, but there was a new level of peace that allowed me to calmly deal with the individuals behavior and actions each time they occurred. 

To this day, I pray each day for that peace to stay with me with all circumstances of frustration.  When this family member does actions today – I am able to sternly but calmly discuss the situation with the individual.  

The second way that we can do no harm is forgiveness.

Surely, most of us if not all of us have had harm done to us by another individual.

There are so many examples of this.  Perhaps someone has stolen from you or cheated you out of something.  Perhaps someone has been dishonest when you thought there was mutual trust between you.  Perhaps someone was careless or irresponsible and their actions have created a loss in your life.  Perhaps an individual brought harm to someone you care about – or worse.

What do we do when we have been harmed by another?  How can we be a light to the world when someone has harmed us?  How can we be a light to that individual?

Often, it is in our nature to want to return the harm done to us to the individual that caused harm.

Often, it is in our nature to want to return the harm done to us to the individual that caused harm.  If we are stolen from, we should steal back from them.  If they have hurt us emotionally, we should hurt them back emotionally – and so on.

Let us not forget the power that pain can have in our lives, especially when it is caused by the actions of another. 

It would be naive to suggest that we alone have the capacity to resist inflicting pain upon someone who has inflicted pain upon us.  If we are being totally honest, it almost seems too easy to be vengeful and in a posture of conflict.

In our walk with God, however, we must seek to be a light to the world.  God and only God can give us the strength to have love in our heart when harm has been inflicted upon us.

God and only God can touch our hearts as we try to take a posture of forgiveness to someone instead of a posture of revenge. 

What would God have you do if you experienced harm from another individual? Do you believe that God has complete dominion over not just your life but the individual’s life that wronged you?

Do you feel like God needs your help to deal with someone who has ill intentions towards you?  Of course not.

When you have been wronged, I invite you to ask God to handle justice for you and to ask God for the strength and will to forgive.  In offering your forgiveness, you shatter the mold of the status quo to be tit for tat and eye for an eye.   

In offering your forgiveness, you shatter the mold of the status quo to be tit for tat and eye for an eye.   

It may not be always possible – or even appropriate to verbally express forgiveness to someone who has wronged you, but what we can do is seek to forgive an individual who has wronged us within our heart. Ask God to give you the strength to forgive and ask God for the peace and healing to endure your posture of forgiveness. 

Ask God for discernment for expressing forgiveness to the individual.  It may very well be that the person who has wronged you is in a pattern of behavior that could be broken by someone actually saying the words “I forgive you”.

Keep in mind, forgiveness does not mean to not protect yourself or not to set boundaries with someone that is likely to harm you.  The goal that I believe we should all seek to do is to maintain a posture of forgiveness and grace and give the situation to God.  God can and will strengthen you and equip you with what you need to be safe – emotionally and even physically. 

In our walk with God, let us model how God is forgiving of us.  Seek a stance of forgiveness for those who have caused you harm. 

In a world full of pain, misery and suffering there are an abundance of people causing harm to one another.  As we walk in step with God, and seek to be a light to the world, we have the opportunity to lean on God when others would lean on the ways of the world – vengeance, conflict and strife. We will not completely avoid challenges and difficulties in our walk with God, but we can do our very best to approach these challenges in a way that is pleasing to God.  

We can ask God to bring peace into our hearts.  We can also ask God to give us the will and strength to have forgiveness towards others who have wronged us. Walking in peace and having a willingness to forgive, we can equip ourselves to do no harm to others and shine brightly as a light to the world.

 

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