Letting Go – Part 2 — Morning Devotions – Hope 103.2

Letting Go – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

We do not have to live trying to control our image. There's a better way to live, as you discover the things you need to let go.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsFriday 9 Oct 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 7 minutes

What are some of the things you need to let go of? I talked about this in Part 1. Are we unwilling to let go of controlling others?

Some of us are, by nature, control freaks. We manipulate every circumstance that we can get our hands on. Why? Because we really believe that no-one can do it better than we can, and so we control and manipulate everything.

But very few people enjoy being around you if you’re like that. We need to let it go—we have to surrender, we have to give up this illusion that we can control what other people think about us.

To do this, we have to first ask ourselves, Why are we under this illusion in the first place? The Bible teaches us that we, as humans, have always been attempting to control other people. That’s a part of our story, of what it means to be human. Cain killed Abel in just the fourth chapter of the Bible, out of his anger against his brother because he felt that he was not good enough.

It is in our DNA to give in to the temptation to be jealous and to be consumed by what is going on in other people’s lives, rather than doing what is right in our own eyes. But our story of being human does not end in Genesis 4.

A Transformed Way of Living

Fortunately, our story finds its climax in our Saviour, Jesus, who helps us see a better way to live, a transformed way of living, as we undergo the lifelong process of salvation—where we do not have always to be trying to control our image, the way other people see us. One way we try to control the way other people see us is by justifying ourselves to other people.

Rather than being content in doing what we think is right, we try to make sure everyone likes us, sort of like a dog running around to everyone in a room, getting everyone to pet them and say, good boy or good girl. When we live out of the need to have everyone’s approval, we centre ourselves and order our lives around other people. That’s a tiring way to live.

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As followers of Christ, we extend grace to others by letting them think what they will—or at least come to the realisation that our trying to obtain everyone’s approval doesn’t do us or them any good, anyway. We cannot control that.

It’s not that we should not take other people and their thoughts about us into account. In fact, our calling to live Christ-like lives in the world around us calls us to live a selfless life, as we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world around us.

But when we allow our conceptions of how other people see us to control the way we live our lives, we are missing the mark. Rather than correcting others and what they think about us, perhaps we should simply listen to them. Practice the art of active listening, show true care and empathy—even if you don’t agree with everything they say. You don’t have to.

Let Go of the Bitterness

Sometimes we can’t let go of bitter feelings. Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions and words of another person. Perhaps your mother criticised you for not being a good parent, or a work colleague told lies about you and caused a loss of promotion—there are many more examples I can think of. These wounds often leave us with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance.

But for our own sake, we must let them go. Let go of the bitterness. Otherwise we will be imprisoned by our own bitterness. One of the biggest problems with bitterness is that it doesn’t want to go away. Resentment is a form of bitterness and the word resentment is really good because it is derived from the prefix ‘re’—meaning to do something again—and the Latin word sentire, which means to feel.

So resentment is something that we feel again. You know we feel those feelings of anger again and again and it applies to situations where we might have been wronged and we want to relive those feelings that we have. We know when we are bitter. Bitterness—it is easy to self-diagnose. Typically, when we are bitter, we know it. We can’t hide it from ourselves.

Realise God Knows Best

The second suggestion I have on dealing with bitterness towards God is to realise that God knows best. Realise that whatever situation you are going through, God does know best. When we become bitter towards God, can it sometimes be because we’ve made God and fashioned him according to our own image?

You know we sometimes think that we might know best. You know we sometimes think that we might know best how God should act in our situation or how he should be fair, or that we know how God should answer all of our prayers. But sometimes we need to step back and we need to realise that, as in the Bible Job finally did, that God really does know best. He knows better than we do.

Psalm 18:30:
As for God, his way is perfect;
               The word of the Lord is proven;
               He is a shield to all who trust in him.

We should not become bitter at the way that he allows events to play out in our lives because his way is perfect. When we’ve become bitter with God we need to look for a lesson. We need to look for a way to process what we are going through in a positive way.

We need to remember to be teachable and to look for those things that we do need to change and we need to realise that we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know why we are angry or what exactly is going on but God does because his way is perfect.

Restore Your Relationship with God

The third suggestion for overcoming bitterness towards God is to restore your relationship. Restore your relationship with God. We can also combat our bitterness towards God by working on the relationship that we have with him. When we get angry with God we often allow ourselves to put up a wall, to become more and more separated with him.

Sometimes you don’t want to talk to him when you are angry; we don’t want to be close but if we will approach him and remember to approach him with thankfulness, with humility, with true repentance, that removes the distance that we put between him and ourselves. Our relationship with God can be restored. It is hard to give true thanks to God and to be thankful and also to remain angry with him.

In the New Testament, James wrote some excellent advice on restoring our relationship with God:

  • Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
  • Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

So we need to draw near towards God as a way to restore the relationship that we need to have with him.

Dwell on God’s Word

A fourth suggestion is to dwell on God’s word. Read the Scriptures. If we study and we meditate on the word that God has revealed to us in the Bible, then we will be reminded, it will remind us constantly, of his plan and the viewpoint that God has. We will be aware of how he provides for his people—He does provide for us—and the work that he wants to accomplish in us.

Focusing on Christ—if you focus on becoming like him—takes the focus off your inward thoughts about yourself and your own shortcomings and your anger at yourself and can replace them with outward thoughts. Christ’s way is an outward way of showing love towards other people. When you live God’s Word and when you grow in love towards others and grow in love towards yourself, you’ll begin to create a new environment for your mind and you can win victory over bitterness.

Some bitterness is directed against other people. We are not always bitter at God or at ourselves but often we become bitter at those people around us. You know, maybe it is children’s bitterness towards their parents for the way that they punished them for something that they did, or it could be a wife’s bitterness for her husband and she is planning how she might get even with him for something he did. It could even be a bitterness that people might carry against their Church or against a current or former minister; something they said or did or disagreed with.

But bitterness needs to be let go. Ask God to allow Jesus to fill your life with wisdom and love, and he will show you how to forgive those who hurt you.