Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Living Gracefully Among Sinners

Leslie Basham: Each of us is confronted by harmful choices others make, according to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: My circumstance, when I’m being wronged or when I’m being affected by wrongdoing, is an incredible opportunity to manifest to unbelievers, to believers, to my family, to my co-workers—it’s an opportunity to manifest to my friends how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms, for Friday, July 19, 2019.

Each of us deals with difficult people. Evil actions and words affect our nation and our cities. They also affect our homes and relationships.

Nancy’s been showing us how to approach evildoers, leading us through Psalm 37. We’ll hear from Nancy in just a minute, but first she’s talking with some of the women who have been listening to this series with us.

Kathy Helvey: I think of that verse in Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait up on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” To me, that means I shall choose to step into that chariot of God, if I have my wits about me, and fly above it.

God was so faithful in my life about a year-and-a-half ago. I read that chapter a week before I was diagnosed with leukemia. When I got that diagnosis from the doctor, it only took just a little bit, a little bit of time, maybe within twenty minutes, and I thought, “Oh, God, remind me that it will be Your chariot, it will be Your chariot in my life.”

Now you’d think with cancer, a diagnosis of leukemia, that I would get things into perspective. There are few things that are really important. That’s kind of my mantra over the last year-and-a-half. It’s really true, but in my humanness, why is it that I still—well, it’s because of my humanness.

Those little things—the person that hurts my child, the gossip that went on about me or whatever it is that’s getting my knickers in a knot—you would think that in light of what’s really important, those things wouldn’t bother me. But they do, I have to confess.

Just because I know those things doesn’t mean—or just because we all would know that truth doesn’t mean that we would live on that plane always. But what’s comforting to me is that we’ve got a choice. We’ve got a choice, and the truth will set us free every time. We’ve got that chariot, ladies.

Nancy: Those are chariots of God to take us to God, to take us to heaven, to lift us up above the plane of our humanness and this earthliness and ultimately to take us to heaven.

So God is using those circumstances, those evildoers and even evil in this world can become something that rather than destroying us, actually becomes a means of our getting to know God better, getting closer to Him and experiencing more of His fullness and His grace in our lives. The chariots of God. Great word picture.

Someone else?

Woman 2: I get very aggravated and frustrated with the constant media push at my kids and their constant desire for video games or watching videos or listening to music and that kind of thing. I’m the mom, so I've got to take control of that and say, “Okay, we’re going to establish a quiet hour during the day.” I think that is something that I’ve taken away from this.

My kids observe that in me. I go in my room at night. I shut the door and I read and I fight to cultivate that quiet heart because it’s my lifeline and I know that. God has put me in a place where His Word is so precious and my time of communion with Him is essential to my living, and so I need to teach them. They see it, but I need to teach them how to do that and kind of make it happen for them. That’s something I’m taking away from this.

Nancy: They will thank you for that if they learn to have a quiet heart as they go into adulthood, knowing how to be still before the Lord.

Woman 3: As you were talking, I was thinking about a situation I was in last year with a co-worker who was very angry. I found myself reacting in anger a lot of times. The Lord had me in Proverbs, and I kept reading about the angry and foolish person. I was thinking, "I’m just like she is." I’m reacting just like she is, and that’s not really the Christian way to do that.

So I asked God to start working in my heart. He did, and He started helping me to respond in a loving way or just not even to respond. He showed me how He responded was by not responding at all sometimes.

I found out she was gossiping about me to my co-worker, which was really hard. But it was like you said, you don’t have to defend yourself because these people know you. You just need to live out a life of integrity, and time will show what really is true. That was such a comforting and peaceful thing because I didn’t have to worry about defending myself.

The Lord really worked through that relationship. I’m not at that job anymore, but she’s actually called me to talk to me about some things. It was really cool how the Lord just kind of worked all that out.

Nancy: Anyone else? Have you seen this passage illustrated in your life or someone else’s?

Woman 4: We’ve just been through a campaign season. There are certain people who uphold Christian values, and then, obviously, we see some people who don’t support Christian values. So I will get frustrated and tend to think about how is this going to affect generations or my kids? How are people going to be affected.

So I literally even woke up one night, and this is just me because I’m going, “Gosh, what can I do? I need to be praying. God actually brought this Scripture to me, and I’ve been reading this over the last couple of months.

Of course, it’s applied to so many areas of my life. God’s also just been showing me that I really have not been trusting Him even though I say, “Oh, I trust God.” Yet really, I have to look and say despite what happens, like you said, there’s ultimately a good end down the road when you’re looking at the long view, and I’m not to worry.

It doesn’t matter what kind of political direction our country goes. I’m not to worry about that. I’m just to trust Him and not to fret. So He continues just to show me in so many different ways, and this has even been a reminder today.

There’s just been things this week that I’ve gotten so frustrated at, and I have not read the Scripture in several days and I just suddenly went, “Yes, oh my goodness, hello. You’ve just shown me this over and over.” So it was just a good encouragement.

Nancy: That doesn’t mean that we don’t care about what’s going on or that we just ignore it or pretend like it isn’t happening or we don’t get mentally engaged. There are things and other passages of Scripture that talk to us about caring for social justice issues and confronting wrongdoing. So that’s balancing truth.

I think what Psalm 37 is saying is that in our responding to evil, we should not do evil ourselves. But when we get defensive or bent out of shape, we start to take on the characteristics of those that we’re angry at, then we have sinned. We have become evildoers, and we forfeit the opportunity to influence evildoers in godly ways. We forfeit the opportunity to be redemptive.

So take it in a marriage. We get emails from a lot of women who say, “I’m married to an angry man,” or “He’s into pornography,” or “He is not providing for the family,” or “There are these issues”—and by the way, this can go both ways. It’s not just men who sin in marriages; it’s women, too. But we hear from some of the women who say my husband is the sinner in this marriage.

There are appropriate and right things that can be done biblically to face those issues, to deal with them, to speak the truth, to bring godly leadership into the picture, elders at a church, or if the law is being broken, the human authority, civic authorities. There are ways to deal with that. But what he’s saying in Psalm 37 is as you deal with it, don’t become an angry woman yourself. Don’t pick up the tools of the enemy to deal with the enemy.

The weapons of our warfare are not the human, physical, natural ones that we’re prone to use. They are the spiritual ones. God uses His Word, His Spirit, His grace, His power, working through us to deal with evil in the culture and in our homes and in our workplaces.

It’s saying guard your own heart. Make sure that your heart is tethered to who God is, that you’re taking the long view and that you’re not throwing up your hands with this, “Oh, woe is me. I’m distressed. We’re all going to die,” panicked sort of feeling. That’s sin. That’s fretting.

Repent of fretting. Repent of sinning. Then look up and look ahead, and then you’ll be in a position where God can use you in many of these circumstances to actually do something about it.

I’m thinking of William Wilberforce that God used in an incredible way to do something about the slave trade in England. He was a man on a mission. He was intentional. He was used of God to right some wrongs.

But he had to do it in God’s way with God’s means. He was a man who loved the Scripture. Then he could know that he was putting himself under God’s authority and being used as an instrument of God to affect righteousness in his day.

Man’s wrath does not accomplish the righteousness of God. There’s that verse in Proverbs that says, “The rod of your anger will fail” (Prov. 22:8 NKJV). Think about that in disciplining your children. There are times when it is appropriate and biblical and necessary, if you are going to be a godly parent, to discipline your children. But if you do it in anger, it will fail because now you’re the sinner disciplining a sinner.

So this applies in all sorts of realms and relationships, in the political world. As we look at social injustice around us, as we look at marriages and divisions within churches, don’t become sinfully fretful or angry, because you cannot accomplish God’s righteous purposes if you do.

Woman 5: Just a comment that we might be the only Jesus that some people see. When we become angry and vent out that way, then we could lose our testimony. It might take you an entire lifetime, if in that time, that you could ever gain that back again. So I think we as Christian women have to be careful. We have to guard against those sort of things, letting us vent out like that.

Nancy: I do believe that there are people who reject Christianity and reject Christ because of the way they’ve seen Christians deal with people they disagree with. So they say, “Christians are angry people. Christians are vengeful people.”

Our message already is tough enough. If we package it in anger, it’s not going to affect the righteousness of God. People will reject the truth, but they shouldn’t reject it because it came through angry messengers. See the difference there? Sometimes it’s our packaging of the truth that makes people reject the truth.

Holly Elliff: I tell you, Nancy, as I was listening to you teach, the thing that hit my heart a little bit like Kathy was saying earlier is that we do always have a choice. In the last couple of years, although my life has been crazy for many years, it’s been crazier the last couple of years. What I find is that as I wrestle with God in those things coming into my life, if I do not make the choice to not fret, then what I’m doing is exhibiting to the world the fact that God is not enough for my circumstances.

So if I’m not careful, I am saying to my children God is not enough for these circumstances. Yes, He was enough last year, but He’s not enough this year. So it is a conscious choice to get still enough often enough that I’m moved to the point of faith.

A passage the Lord has used all year long is when Christ took the disciples into the storm and the first thing He said when they woke Him up in the boat was, “Where’s your faith?” That’s a question that the Lord has asked me over and over in the last two years because when it gets tough, does what I know in my head still apply to every moment of my life? Is it sufficient? Is God still big enough when the circumstances get bigger?

Nancy: The fact is God is big enough. Oswald Chambers has a wonderful quote that has been convicting to me over the years. He says, “Our circumstances are the means of manifesting how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is.”

You see, every time I react to a circumstance, I react to an evildoer, I react to somebody who is wronging me or wronging somebody that I love. When I react to that, I’m giving the world an impression of Christ. This is an opportunity for me to show Christ who loves sinners, who did not defend Himself, who did not retaliate, who chose not to become angry or fretful, but chose to look up and chose to look ahead for the joy that was set before Him.

That’s who Christ is. That’s how he responded to wrongdoers, to evildoers. My circumstance, when I’m being wronged, or when I’m being affected by wrongdoing is an incredible opportunity to manifest to the world, to unbelievers, to believers, to my family, to my co-workers. It’s an opportunity to manifest to my friends how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is.

  • If Christ is responding in and through me,
  • If they see me trusting in the Lord and doing good in the midst of everybody else around me doing wrong,
  • If I’m in that workplace and everybody else is gossiping and I’m not,
  • If they see me delighting myself in the Lord rather than being dragged down and depressed by my circumstances,
  • If they see me committing my way to the Lord rather than losing sleep at night over this myself,
  • If they see me being still before the Lord rather than frantic or running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to solve the world’s problems,
  • If they see me waiting patiently for the Lord,

That’s supernatural. That motivates them to look up. They see me looking up; they’re going to look up.

What is she looking at? Who’s she looking at is the question. Then their eyes, their hearts are drawn to Christ, drawn to God. Then they’re able to see what comes ahead. This is how we paint a picture of eternity in people’s hearts.

This is how you give your children a heart for living for eternity rather than for the moment as they see you looking ahead to the finish line and keeping your eyes on the prize and not getting sucked into the evil and the wrongdoing that’s going on around you.

So this is a means of evangelism. It’s a means of discipleship. It’s a means of mentoring others in the ways of God. If nothing else, it’s a means of having peace of mind and heart while everybody else around you is losing theirs.

Kim Wagner: I think so many times we have underlying anger without even realizing it. I’m so thankful for a dear, dear godly friend of mine one day as we were having a conversation. This was years ago when we were in a church situation where there was a division in our church and there was sides being taken. Usually when sides are being taken, you think your side is right, whichever side you’re on, or you wouldn’t be on that side.

My dear friend, I watched her strive to not take a side and to go the way of meekness. One day when we were in conversation about the issues at church, she looked at me. This is a very good friend. We had walked through a lot together. She looked at me very meekly, and she said, “Kim, are you angry with me?” And that smote my heart because I thought, “I am. I’m angry at her.”

I didn’t even realize until she said that that I was angry. I know James 1:20 says, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” I realized if I’m being angry, I’m preventing God from working in my life in this situation. I could be hindering God from being able to work within this church body because of my anger.

You know, that’s confronting in love. So meekness isn’t always being silent. But in a kind, gentle voice to ask a question that causes the person to consider, “Am I in sin here?”

Nancy: Let’s close this session by just reading again through this passage that we’ve been looking at over the past several days, and let God’s Spirit ask those convicting questions of our consciences.

As we talk about anger, it’s easy to think of people we know who are angry people. Maybe the question God wants to ask us is: Are you angry? So let’s just let God wash our spirits with the water of His Word.

Psalm 37, verses 1–11:

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
[Don’t get heated is what that word means.]
be not envious of wrongdoers!

For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend [cultivate] faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.

But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

And then again, those last two verses (Psalm 37:39-40):

The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Oh, Father, how I pray that our hearts again might be tethered to You, tethered to Your love, tethered to Your faithfulness, tethered to Your goodness and that our emotions might not be victims of the ups and downs and the rights and wrongs of other people around us.

I know there are women listening, Lord, today who are in a home living with ungodly people and people who do ungodly things. Some are in a workplace where there’s lot of ungodliness going on around them. So Lord, guard our hearts.

May we not become like the evildoers whose works provoke us. May we be provoked instead to love and trust You and to lean heavily on You, to look up and then to look ahead. Lord, may our lives reflect to this world how wonderfully perfect and how extraordinarily pure the Son of God is.

May our lives radiate and reflect the heart and the spirit of Jesus, the Son of God who laid down His life for sinners, who was willing to be wounded so that by His stripes we might be healed. Thank You, Lord, that He chose to take the wounds, to endure Your wrath, to be the victim of wrongdoing so that He could, as our Shepherd, bring us to God.

Oh, Lord, we love You and pray that our lives might be reflections of that part of Christ in this world. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: When you deal with evil and love in return, others are watching. You’re provoking them to good deeds. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us see the incredible value of responding in love and patience.

If there was anyone living in a troubled world, it was the biblical character of Esther. She was exiled from her home. She was captured into a harem. Her husband abused alcohol and had a temper. And her people faced extinction. She has a lot to teach you about trusting the Lord and maintaining trust in the Lord. We’d like to help you get to know her story better by sending you the new Bible study: Esther: Trusting God’s Plan. It’s a six-week study you can get done during your quiet time.

When you help make Revive Our Hearts possible with a gift of any amount, we’d like to send you this study. You can donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959. 

On Monday, Karen and Crawford Loritts will be here to show you how to build a marriage that will glorify God for a lifetime. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to love and trust the Lord. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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