Chapter 3: Lies Women Believe About Themselves
Day 3: Yielding Rights
Lie #10: “I have my rights.”
Warning: danger ahead!
Personal rights are a very sensitive topic – the moment someone feels their rights are violated, all bets are off. Not only do we see this in our personal conflicts with others, but even more so when legal rights are threatened or violated. Rioting and violence are often the response. Personally, we tend to resort to catty remarks, abuse, or even ending relationships. Are these healthy, godly things? Absolutely not. But they are also not the problem; they are a symptom of the problem. The root of this problem is our sinful pride that causes to demand our rights – from society, from our co-workers, from our boss, from our friends and family, and even from God.
Unsure that this applies to you? Consider:
How do you respond when…
- someone cuts you off in traffic
- your husband throws his laundry everywhere but the basket
- you have to work late
- someone talks down to you
- you don’t sleep well
These are just a few things that are connected to our belief and demand of rights. If someone violates our rights on the road, we get angry. If our husbands make a mess, or don’t help out with the household chores, we get angry. When we have to work late, we get angry. When people disrespect us, we get angry. When we don’t sleep, we get angry.
Hmm… I’m seeing a pattern here. Anger. What is anger? Anger is the result of our unwillingness to accept what God is doing in our lives; an unwillingness to accept God on His terms.
Are you saying that God is causing my rights to violated? Causing people to make my life harder, to disrespect me, and even causing me not to sleep? Yeah, yeah I am. Does that mean their behavior is okay and good? No, not at all. But remember what we talked about last time – God is not interested in someone else’s sin, He wants to deal with you about your sin. And the fact that we respond to the sin of others by ourselves sinning is a big deal. God won’t allow it. So He stirs things up to teach us what it means to surrender, submit, and yield our rights – which is what He calls all of His children to do. And He knows exactly what He’s asking, because it’s actually what Jesus did throughout His life and ministry on earth. But we get angry – we don’t like this! It’s not fair! Who does God think He is?!
In Luke 14, Jesus is talking to large crowds and explaining what they need to do to become his disciple. It culminates with verse 33, where he says. “Any of you who does not forsake everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
According this Jesus, we must forsake everything, and that includes our rights. Scripture continually reminds us to submit to God and to others. We do this because we’ve given our rights up to God. We understand that we have no rights; we trust God to take care of us, even as our “rights” are violated. We no longer respond in anger and sin when things don’t go our way, but instead we remember that we placed our rights and control in God’s hands and we will wait and see what He does instead of grabbing control back.
Demanding our rights always leads to discontentment because we never get what we want. People will eventually fail us; society is sinful and people will always cut you off, talk down to you, and mistreat you. Fighting back only causes things to worsen, not improve. When we focus on our rights, we’re focusing on what we don’t have. Remember, that’s what temptation looks like; it’s where sin starts. As I focus on what I don’t have, and begin to demand what I don’t have, I feel justified in taking whatever measures necessary (including sinful ones) to get what I need. Idolatry.
Let’s be real: in our demand for rights, it’s rarely equality that we’re seeking, but domination. This is the case with feminism. This is the case in marriages. This is the case in work environments. It’s the case in social interaction. We don’t want to be equal, we want to be better than. Pride.
God calls us to a different standard than the world. He calls us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21), and to love one another above ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). He calls us to deny ourselves, not prove ourselves (Luke 14:27).
How on earth are we supposed to do this?
It starts with what we believe about God: is he good and does he love us?
It continues with how that affects our beliefs about self: is my identity safe in Christ?
If God accepts me, loves me, and is working for my good, then I don’t have to. I can surrender my rights because I have everything I need in my relationship with God. I don’t need the respect of others. I don’t need to be better than anyone else. I don’t need to have everything go my way, because I understand that even when things are difficult, God is with me, and that’s all I need.
This correct and true belief causes me to begin to walk in obedience; I can now surrender my rights, stop trying to take from my relationships and circumstances, and instead begin to give. I can love God and love others. You see, you can’t love with submission. You can’t love without giving. And you can’t give when you’re about yourself.
Submission isn’t just for some. It’s for everyone who follows Christ and it applies to every relationship and circumstances. But how do we submit to people who we don’t like? Or to people who take advantage? We submit to God, and remember that the people He’s calling us to love and submit to are the people He has chosen to place in our lives. He knows what he’s doing. He’s teaching us something very important: that He is good, on our side, and enough for us. That we can deny ourselves and love others and still have peace and joy in our lives. That God is all we need. But we must surrender our rights, our pride, our desire for instant gratification and our anger and selfish desires that ruin instead of restore.
You don’t have a right to give the silent treatment when someone snaps at you. Your job is to love her.
You don’t have a right to punish your husband because he doesn’t understand you. Your job is to love him.
You don’t have a right to be angry and irritable because you didn’t sleep well the night before. Your job is to love others.
We do this by God’s grace – the power he gives to do what he says.
Some rights we believe are bigger, though, and far more dangerous. Sometimes we believe we have a right to worship God wherever we want. We don’t. God calls us to worship him by coming together as a church. Sometimes we believe we have a right to spend our time however we want, but we don’t. God calls us to honor him in everything that we do. Sometimes we believe that we can minster to who we want, but we don’t. God calls us to minister to everyone we come in contact with, regardless of how challenging it is and how much of ourselves we must deny to do it.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the life of Jonah and what rights he believed he had and how he responded when those rights were violated.
Do you struggle with anger, isolation, depression, bitterness, resentment, discontent, and suicidal thoughts? Check yourself – you’re probably demanding rights that God is withholding so that you can find your rest in Him instead of others.
Things to remember:
- Anger is an unwillingness to accept God on His terms.
- Demanding rights always leads to discontentment.
- We are called to submit to God and to others.
- You cannot love without submission.
- Freedom is found in yielding our rights to God and to others and becoming a giver rather than a taker.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.