This message will change your life or offend you. Others don’t know what you’ve been through, but you don’t know what they’ve been through either. We are going to let the message introduce itself as we study today.
Let's start with a well known Parable of Jesus which He taught during the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus is talking about the very foundation of a man or woman—what supports everything they build their very life upon—and He says that His principles and ways are like an immovable rock that cannot be shaken, but that if we build on anything else it is like the sand and we will fall. To fully grasp what we will be discussing today, let's first answer this question: Why does sand fail as a foundation? When rain and floodwaters come, what happens to the sandy foundation? Parts of it wash away with the current and the remaining foundation is moved and shaped by the flow of the water until it's shifted, washed out, weakened state no longer holds. A sandy foundation is constantly effected by the outside forces surrounding it.
We have become a culture and society of ‘the perpetually offended people.’ It seems the majority today see and hear everything around them with the central focus of thought—the actual purpose—of determining how it might offend, hurt or disagree with what their worldview and opinion may be. And if someone has a view or an opinion contrary to them—or especially if an action or event causes them opposition—their very world comes unwound, emotions run wild, reactions are impulsive and severe, anxiety rises and self-worth is challenged—and the world must change to suit their beliefs and desires or they will be offended, threatened and unsatisfied. Why is this becoming the common reaction? Because many people are placing their own worth and importance above all around them, feeling they are special, entitled. Then letting their own ‘inflated importance’ hinge upon the supporting actions, opinions and values of those around them, rather than upon any solid foundation of truth. And so, when their ‘entitled’ desires or opinions are challenged or disagreed with so goes their self-image, stability and strength—just like the sandy foundation in a storm, being molded and effected by every current that washes over them. Their world becomes a place of constant outside influence and manipulation as the foundation shifts with every factor they encounter. As much as they would like to deny it, the world completely owns and controls them, with their happiness, their actions, their success being built upon the unstable current of others.
The problem with you and me today is this: The sad condition of many today that we have just described is the exact same mentality that drives the majority of us all, but in a much more subtle and hidden form. How many of us are driven by, controlled, and identify ourselves through the circumstances and people influencing our lives rather than by our identity and relationship with Jesus Christ—with our happiness in any given moment [our decisions in life, our self-worth, our every thought] being dictated and formed by outside factors of influence? How many of us have had these thoughts: "I just don't know if I can take it anymore? "That's it, if they don't change, I am going to!" How many stay mad? Stay stressed? Stay bitter? Constantly? Are these the thoughts and reactions focused on surrounding circumstances or God? A number of people are indivisibly one with your problems rather than Christ. Everything in your life right now centers around [your illness or injury, your money or job situation, the wrong actions of your spouse, the abuse or wrong you've suffered in the past, the unfair circumstances in your life or in loved one’s life]. Please listen and understand: I'm not downplaying our pains and sufferings; I'm not saying there aren't wrongs, injustices and abuse. The pain, and even the scars of these things is all too real. What I'm saying—what God is saying: is that we can’t allow ourselves to be identified by or be shaped and molded by the outward factors of our lives anymore. They are not our God and we are acting just like the world. We must all reach a point where we stop blaming anything or anyone else for our mindset and action or we will forever be victims to something or someone else—they will forever be our Gods. To help us get past this reaction we must understand why we react this way: abuse, uncertainty, injustice, unfairness, rejection—truly do bring real pain. 1) Because you are not getting what you desire or sometimes even need 2) Because you have been made to feel that you are not important, are unwanted or unloved. And these are legitimate needs which have been attacked. But if these things are real and legitimate needs, in which you must have to build a foundation for life—how can you possibly stand strong when so many things can affect them like floods of water to sand? By securing your feelings of self-worth and your needs and desires to something that cannot be shifted when outward circumstances do change. Your foundation is completely built upon your worldview—the lens with which you see everything around you. How you perceive things forms your place in them. If they are built upon false, changing pretense, thus goes your foundation. Here is the answer broken down into practical application: most of us have a lens that focuses on how everything affects our lives—us. Because my fleshly desire to have my own way and my very real need to feel worth and acceptance hinge on the truth in my lens. Therefore, everything in the lens is weighed by: How does it affect me? Was it fair to me? Does it make me feel more or less valued? What in the picture needs to change in order to value or please me better? That image usually leaves unresolvable issues because we will never be able to control everyone and everything affecting our lives—leaving us unfulfilled, hurt, and anxious. And we pray things like: ‘Lord change them to what I need; Lord take them out of my life; Lord make things easier for me.’ A mind renewed in Christ's Words, founded on truth and on reality sees through a lens that focuses on how everything affects our new life in Christ. Meaning we concretely know our worth. We concretely know how much we are loved. And no one's opinion or abuse can change that fact. We know the circumstances no matter how unpleasant are known by God, will be used by God, and are under His control. They are a chance to grow, and show our real love for Him when tested. We know the people involved may very well be unfair, unjust, and meaning evil against us; but we also know that our God will take that evil and use it for His glory as well. We know that our objective is not to despair in the situation, but find the way to glorify God in the midst; to love, heal and forgive the people involved—knowing they are broken as well, knowing the real enemy behind it all. These are the changes that God most cherishes in your trials. Because if He changed your bad circumstances without changing you, it would never help you grow in your strength and faith. And often would simply make matters worse by hiding your immaturity and selfishness. But if He could use them to change you—even if your circumstances didn't change—you could still have peace and healing.
Many Christians will never be used to help others because they are too busy being victims themselves. If a Rescue Swimmer is helicoptered out to the middle of the sea to save someone who is drowning, he must know how to swim himself. He must be unaffected by fear of the water or circumstances. He must care more for the person than himself. He must have someone he can attach to who is able to lift you both out of the water. Just continually treading water is not an option. When 5000 people desperately needed food, Jesus could have made a feast appear from nothing. But instead: (Mark 6:38) He asked them, "What did they have to give?" And Jesus took what little they had to offer (5 loaves/2 fish) and worked miracles. You will remain a miserable victim of your circumstances forever until you decide you will no longer be a victim to your false God and turn your focus to the real God. It is not your situation, not people around you that make you a victim. It is the giving of yourself to it; it is the connecting of your own worth to a false god. Paul lost a prosperous and very respected position, was beaten horribly, stoned and left for dead, locked in stocks and messed on himself in filth. But rather than be "victimized" by all of this unfair trauma and abuse, Paul saw what he had to give—even in his trials and was blessed and used incredibly: Philippians 1:12.
Please stop and realistically think about Joseph for a moment: sold into slavery by his own family, imprisoned for trying to do right in God's eyes (Potiphar) [major factor in our pain sometimes], abandoned by those he tried to help even in prison. Joseph lost 13 years of his life (25yrs before he could revealed himself to brothers). Rejected and abused by family and everyone around him in life, seemingly left to his misery even by God after doing good—he refused to have a "victim" mindset, and remained true to his faith; remained true to those around him; and showed forgiveness to those who hurt him. And because he found something to give to God in his trials and need (himself), knowing God was Sovereign and could use what he had to offer—God moved: Genesis 39:2; Genesis 39:21; Genesis 45:4-5, 8, 14-15; Romans 8:28.
If you are ever to get away from your anxiety and grief, to find emotional and spiritual healing, it can only come from holding one person accountable—you. There is no one else whom you can change. You will never grow closer to God; you will never be usable to help another soul until you stop blaming anyone or anything else for your own thoughts and actions. You must rely on God alone instead of the world in your pain; take responsibility for your own reactions according to your trust in God's Word and faithfulness; assume that nothing, nor anyone else will change and that it will be okay because you have God and He can make a change through you. Rather than withdrawing and shriveling up as a victim, offer what you do still have—yourself—where you are at in your circumstances and watch what God will do.
This is not just a “positive thinking” message with a “God-Spin” attached to it. It is releasing of God in your trials to do real and supernatural work. Just like the man who had spent 38 years as a lonely, abandoned, useless, filthy cripple next to the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus saw him in the multitudes; Jesus was with him even in his struggles. But his conversion from cripple to blessed required one thing: John 5:6. Listen through the Spirit: 2 Timothy 1:7-8;
John 16:33. We are so drenched in the ways and the thoughts of the world. We must leave it and let our minds grasp the reality of Who Jesus is in our lives; grasp that we are not forgotten, not forsaken; grasp that He will never leave us as victims but use us powerfully in our circumstances—and even teach us to love those who have caused it rather than bring even more suffering from it. If we will just see the world through His lens and give Him what we have left to offer—ourselves—He promises to do what we can’t in our despair. Let this incredible passage be your inspiration and battle cry: 2 Corinthians 4:7-10. Never identify yourself by your circumstances again. Never give them permission to be your god again. Stand up in faith and give what’s left—yourself. Let God use you to be the one to endure, or even change the circumstances—for His glory. No child of God need ever be the “victim” again.
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