Saturday, June 4, 2011

Victories: Negativity

A spirit of negativity is a nasty opponent. As New Yorkers who have weathered a tough winter and are drowning in a wet spring, so we all are prone to complaining these days! More difficult, though, is the truth that victory over negative thoughts is often a generational battle with deep, tangled roots. To add to the challenge, negativity is deceptive and always insinuates that it is ‘justified.’ Complaining and criticism, though, give no glory to God. They are of no use in the Christian walk; they are the antithesis of doing all for the glory of God! We must have victory over the spirit of negativity!

The results of negative words and thoughts are everywhere, but we often hide behind our unrighteous words with self-righteous indignation. “He deserved it!” “She had that coming for a long time!” We excuse our poor behavior while condemning another. God’s Word exhorts us to use our words to build others up. Furthermore, scripture warns that we are accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths. Ouch! Speaking against others—and even things—makes us co-workers with the Destroyer. We darken the lives of others and callous our own hearts with our negative thoughts and words.

Victory is possible! The Word is, of course, our primary weapon. Obedience to the instructions such as those in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 4:8 will do much to vanquish darkness. Our minds are the primary battleground with negativity. We must insist that our thoughts obey God’s direction. We must focus on what is lovely, pure, noble and good. Trusting that God is truthful when He says all things are for the good of those committed to Him allows us to be courageous and hopeful. Our loving heavenly Father filters all that comes to our lives; we must not complain against His permissive will. If we focus on the things that bring despair and darkness, we will fall prey to darkness. Our minds must heed God’s instructions.

Sometimes obedience is hard to muster up, though, is it not? When my spirit is not willing, it helps me to consider the consequences of disobedience. While our hearts ‘should’ always desire to obey, the reality is that they do not. Scripture never sugarcoats the reality of disobedience. The book of Numbers particularly emphasizes the contamination of complaining. It is a pervasive sin, which destroys lives, squashes hope and delays God’s purposes. When we truly understand the damage our disobedience causes, our hearts soften enough to heed God’s instruction.

Yet even when our heads hear truth, our hearts still refuse to believe. If we know that complaining is wrong, if we understand that disobedience brings consequences to ourselves and others and we remain hard, it is time to sit at the cross. We need to spend time in prayer contemplating Christ’s suffering for us. We must remember that while we were still His enemies, He went to the cross for us. We have no grounds to complain about any person or any circumstance in the light of what Christ has done for us. Our hearts, humbled and broken, by His sacrificial love will not complain and criticize. Victory, as always, is in the cross of Christ. Let us triumph over negativity in our own lives and trust Jesus to use that marked difference to draw others to Himself!

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