There once was a young man who dreamed of becoming a cowboy. He asked his parents to buy him some boots and a cowboy hat. Then for years after that, the young man would help around his house and do chores. After his chores, he would get his little rope and practice lassoing his fence posts. Over time, this young man got older and he was able to find employment at a local farm. He started as a farmhand and over time became one of the ranches cowboys. He guided all the cows and horses to where they needed to be and even herded them from one farmland to another. This process took days at a time and he would be able to camp under the stars with his fellow cowboys and the animals they were guarding.
This young man finally became what he dreamed to be, a real cowboy. However, one day he was riding his horse and it became scared because a snake jumped out at it. The horse bucked left and right and then jumped. The young cowboy was launched from his horse and was severely injured. He fractured some bones, but his emotional injury was far worse. He stopped riding horses and started to separate himself from the other ranchers. What was once a dream and a way of life, became a nightmare. Even though the other cowboys and ranchers would reach out and try to love him, he was always reminded about the horse that bucked him off. He allowed his hurt and fear to ruin his dream. He never got back on a horse again and it haunted him for his entire life.
Now, this young cowboy allowed the hurt and the fear he felt ruin his relationship with his fellow ranchers and his very walk in life. This does not have to be you. This is a very central theme of this week’s message. Too often I have been put in the situation to minister to Christians who fell out of fellowship with the church and their brothers and sisters in Christ because they were hurt by the church or someone within the church. If this is you, you don’t have to allow this hurt to follow you all of your life, ruining potentially life-changing relationships, and robbing you from doing your job, herding in the lost sheep of this world while enjoying the fruits of your labors. So, I would like to share what God has revealed to us in His Word about fellowship, being hurt by someone, and how to practically heal your emotional and spiritual wounds. If you are ready, let us begin!
When it comes to Christian fellowship, the best advice that God has revealed to me in His Word is in 2 Timothy. It is written, “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people,” (2 Timothy 3:5, AMP). What this means is to first identify whether a person is worth sharing your fellowship with, as to invest yourself in them or not, is dictated by their very character.
For it is written, “Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands],’ (Matthew 7:22-23, AMP).
Often, people are quick to say that they are Christians but do not have godly character. They lead congregations, they lead Bible studies, and they are in places of leadership or influence inside our churches. However, when the day comes when they come face-to-face with Jesus, He will tell them to leave His sight because He did not know them. What this means is it does not matter the doctrine they knew, or what they did in His name. What matters is their heart and their godly character. Did these people live out the Gospel or not? This is what matters to Jesus and so it must matter to us as well. Just like God revealed to us in 2 Timothy 3:5, if the people around you or in your church do not “practice” godliness stay away from them. This way of thinking can help your heart in the long haul.
This does not mean to cut fellowship with the church in general, but to not invest your time, efforts, or giftings on such people. You may be dealing with a situation of hurt because you took to heart something one of these people did or said to you, however, remember that they are held accountable to Christ on judgment day. So pray for them and anyone else they may have hurt and pushed away from the church. The trick is to be a fruit inspector. Inspect the fruits of people’s lives, but please remember that inspecting is not judging a person. It simply identifying if they are walking in godliness or not. This is important when it comes to identifying who you are going to fellowship with or not. Satan is inside the walls of the church no different than outside the walls.
For it is written, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7, AMP).
Once again, God is revealing to us that someone who lives a repentant life walks in the light. Those who are truly cleansed by the Blood of Christ are the people who you should be fellowshipping with. The keywords are those who “walk in the light,” as in those who walk in Spirit and love righteousness. God has never intended us to fellowship with people who are unequally yoked with us because they can stunt our spiritual growth, or at times, push us away from the church and fellowship with other authentic Christians. When this happens, Satan bucked another cowboy off their horse. We need to defend our hearts by first taking time to study people’s actions before we choose to let them into our hearts. I know this is sad because I am talking about church fellowship, however, this is nothing new. Many of Paul’s epistles warned the church of Judaizers, false prophets, and false teachers. This same warning applies to us all now today! We must stay on guard at all times.
Now, I would like to share some of God’s Word with you about what to do when you have been hurt by someone. First and foremost, we cannot harbor hate for one another. For it is written, “leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering,” (Matthew 5:24, AMP). If you have been hurt by someone within the church, forgive them and do not harbor hate for them. It is so important to God for you to not harbor hate or dislike for a fellow brother or sister in Christ that before we can give Him a worthy sacrifice we must first forgive those who hurt us. Since we all want Christ to forgive us of our sins, we must also forgive those who trespass against us.
We must remember that when we harbor distrust and hate in our hearts, we are giving people power over us and it can hinder our very walk with Christ. This is because where there is darkness or negativity, there cannot be light or positivity. It is no different than the magnetic field on a magnet that separates the positive and negative energy fields. That fine line that allows the release of negativity in our hearts is forgiveness. Once we forgive, that person who hurt you lost their power over you and satan lost his influence. The lies that he was using to keep you away from true fellowship with another believer is lost. Then, the Holy Spirit can come back in and repair what was broken because of the hurt. This is why understanding why forgiveness is so important; it is the key to know what to do after you have been hurt by the church or a fellow Christian.
If you are having trouble with forgiving, simply remember that God has your back. For it is written, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord,” (Romans 12:19, AMP). This means that whatever anyone has ever done to you will be avenged one way or another by God Himself. Trust me, there is nothing you can do, whether it is separating yourself from Christians or lashing back at them in anger, that God can not do worse. Simply focus on walking in the light and stay focused on God’s promises over your life because they will come to pass. Do not allow anger, hurt, or fear to keep you from loving your righteous brothers and sisters in Christ; also in serving the Lord to the best of your ability.
For it is written, “But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him],” (Matthew 5:44-45, AMP).
Lastly, when it comes to moving past being hurt by someone in the church or the church itself, Jesus has revealed to us that we should love and pray for those who persecute us. This is especially true for persecutions and wrongdoings by the church. Don’t allow being bucked off your saddle keep you from fulfilling God’s calling in your life. Stay prayed up and pray for whatever caused the person who hurt you from being the way that they are. Everyone’s hurt comes from somewhere. In fact, most abusers were abused before and their way of couping, or having power over their circumstances, is to hurt or abuse someone else. So, if you have been hurt by anyone, Christian or not, pray for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to release what Satan is using to keep them so bitter, angry, and negative. They need as much grace as you do. Simply stated, be who God expects you to be and let His Spirit convict those who have wronged you. This is why it is written, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, And the Lord will reward you,” (Proverbs 25:21-23, AMP).
Now, since we have discussed what fellowship is and is not, and what to do when you have been hurt, or bucked off your horse by the church or a “Christian,” let me share with you three ways to practically heal your emotional and spiritual wounds.
(1) Seek True Fellowship:
It is written, “and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, 25 not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching,” (Hebrews 10:24-25, AMP).
In knowing what true fellowship is and is not, we must seek out those who have a genuine fellowship with the Lord. It is only when we seek out true fellowship that we can encourage one another and truly gather and love one another and worship Christ. Often times, we find ourselves in relationships with people who have many faults. It is wrong to think that you can “change” them. We cannot change anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can convince or convict them of their sins. However, in knowing this and continuing to fellowship with that person, you cannot honestly be surprised when they hurt you or do something ungodly. You must focus on allowing God to build your “inner circle” with those who want to build you up and help you be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday. This is why the first practical advice I am giving you is to study the character of people before you let them in your circle. This is true for inside the church and outside of it.
(2) Look for Christ in the hurt:
It is written, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose,” (Romans 8:28, AMP).
Since we can trust God and His Word, we can trust that anything bad that has and will ever happen to you can be used to glorify God. However, this cannot happen if we are not walking in His Spirit and focusing on Jesus Christ. If you are walking in His purpose, in every situation you should focus on how He can use the circumstance or hurt that you are in to glorify His Son. Whether it is to help develop you spiritually, as in to gain wisdom or to give you the opportunity to show forgiveness to someone who you feel does not deserve it. As Christ did for us, we must do for another. There is a purpose in everything. We must remove the victim mindset that so many of us are stuck in. This mindset stunts your spiritual growth and will allow an enemy foothold in your life. Don’t allow this world or any spiritual warfare to keep you from seeing Christ in everything.
We are called to be vessels for His grace. We are His hands and feet. We help protect the flock no different than the young cowboy, however, if we allow our hurt to keep us from being who we need to be, we choose to stop our race before we ever gain the strength or endurance needed to become champions. This is an active choice that we must all make and understand this simple truth is a determining factor in our healing. Do we allow Christ to heal us or do we allow the world to choke the love of Christ out of us because of our hurt? The answer to that question will determine whether you will ever truly heal from your wounds or not.
(3) Focus on the Spiritual Disciplines:
A large part of healing is self-discovery. What I mean by self-discovery is focusing on discovering the Holy Spirit in you. This is why we have been revealed to study, pray, fast, and to find solitude for a reason. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation or circumstance where our focus moves away from God and towards ourselves we must readjust. If the hurt is shaking your foundation, step back, and reinforce it. Use the spiritual disciples revealed to us in God’s Word to grow. This growth cannot be stolen by anyone or anything, because it is grounded in hearing God where you are currently at. If you need peace, take time and study in solitude. If you are having other issues, fast and pray. Learn how to allow the Holy Spirit in you so He can work through you. This is because when we grow past the hurt, we can help heal another with the wisdom we gained from it.
In this message, I shared with you what fellowship is and is not, what to do when you have been hurt, and three practical ways to find true healing. Now, it is up to you if you choose to pick up your hat and hop back up on your saddle. Remember that Satan wants nothing more than for you to stay where you are instead of finding true healing. He will use both people in and out of the church to shake you from your path. It is up to us to put on the Armor of God and be prepared for it. If not, then we will rob the rancher (God) of the lost cattle (God’s sheep) we were expected to care for! Cowboy up my friends! Do not lose your focus nor your purpose. Do not live in regret as the young cowboy did. We have a choice to live better than that. So let us do it in Jesus’ name. Amen!