Bullies cannot get us down

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to. You’ve always been great toward me—what love! You snatched me from the brink of disaster! God, these bullies have reared their heads! A gang of thugs is after me— and they don’t care a thing about you. But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear child! Make a show of how much you love me so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, as you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet. (Psalm 86:11-17)

Character traits are the things that actually "reflect" better than any "image" we see of ourselves in the mirror on our wall. Justice and Joyfulness are two such traits - ones that must be purposefully cultivated, or they just won't be there naturally. Justice is really another way of saying we live in such a manner so as to display right conduct, not just when it suits us, but all of the time in all of our dealings on this earth. We are to be equitable in treating others as God has treated us. This seems a little too easy for us to simply respond, "Check", and move on. Let me assure you, living "just" lives is a lot harder than some of the other traits we might develop over time! Because it deals with the behaviors of others, often in reflection of the way they have treated us, it is one of the hardest ones to master! In society today, the "bullies" are abounding. Do you know what a bully is? It is someone who "badgers" another person because they think the other person is actually WEAKER than they are! They see the other person as "smaller" or "less significant". Isn't this just the way people who don't serve the Lord see Christians? They almost shake their head in disbelief that we'd need some kind of "crutch" like Jesus to get through life! Let me assure those of you who might have been told Jesus was some "crutch" you needed in life - he is life itself, not just some "support" we lean upon because we are momentarily lame!

The times when "justice" becomes evident in our lives are those when our fellow men see an area of "weakness" in our lives as an opportunity to focus their attack. Most of us already know very well where our areas of weakness are, and we have something our enemy doesn't know about - God's strength manifest in the very spot our weakness shines through! Don't bemoan the bullying of your attackers - see their attack as the very moment God will be totally on display in your life. Justice will prevail - first in your own life, and then in your dealings with those who seek to intimidate, demean, tear down, cause havoc to abound, and just simply make your life miserable! Learn to rely upon the one thing which always remains consistent - even in your inconsistency. That one thing is God's character - his grace, kindness, gentleness and even his power. Ask God to set YOUR path straight - to have YOUR mind and heart put together, undivided and determined. This is where justice begins - with us being set straight! When our hearts and minds are blameless, we stand strong in the midst of whatever the "bullies" throw our way. We will not be dependent upon the circumstances of life in determining what gives US happiness in life - we will be joyful in the justice of God, first toward us, then toward our enemies. Go ahead, ask God - 'make a show of how much you love me, God'. Have you ever faced some of the toughest enemies of your life and prayed that God would just put himself on display in your life in all his fullness and glory? When you do, he is honored to answer that prayer!

Justice and joyfulness really are inter-related, just as so many of our other "character traits" come to be 'related'. Whenever we begin to see our weakness as God's opportunity, we also might just count on our "bullying" friends to see it as their opportunity to attack where we are the weakest. In those moments of attack, God is really putting us together, giving us the integrity to stand strong, and letting his justice shine through. In those times, we stand in joyful awe of what God does, how he uses us to shut down the bullies, and just how much power he puts on display where we only saw the extremes of weakness. Our psalmist notes it is God who will "put him back on his feet". This might just indicate every "pushing around" we get from the "bullying enemies" in our lives won't leave us standing quite as strong as we hoped. In those times, take heart - God is there to help you back onto your feet when you get 'pushed down'. Relationship "bullies" abound - some push us down a little more than we'd like. God stands at the ready to help us back up on our feet again. We only need to rely upon his outstretched hand to pull us up. Financial "bullies" taunt and toy with us - his providing hand is at the ready. Health "bullies" plague us with worries galore - his carefully tender hand is at the ready to soothe our pain and ease our worries. We do "get down" in life but remembering there is a difference between happiness and joyfulness may just be the key to where we look when we are "down". We may be down, but not for the count! Just sayin!

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