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Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

We’ve all heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. Is that how you handle conflict? Or do you, like me, fail to abide by that practice?
 
I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist how upset I was with her. Given the family dysfunction related to addiction, the disease was killing her and it was killing me, emotionally and physically (stress, weight loss, headaches). Gratified to hear that my feelings were normal didn’t mean that they were acceptable. Having heard the above expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.    

In Scripture we read…“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Another Scripture verse that speaks to this issue is where Peter asks how often he is to forgive. Jesus responds to him in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times”.

All of these verses speak to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. As I’ve learned, one of the tricks is to not assume malice. Most often, when someone does something that upsets you, they’ve not done it to intentionally hurt you. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to harm you, then working to resolve the matter. BTW, all of this is easier said than done. It really takes practice.

My experience would indicate that there’s another factor in all of this, that is the complicity that we may have in the conflict. How have our actions added to the dilemma? What role have we played? How does how we feel about ourselves contribute to the reaction we’ve had? All questions I’ve had to ask myself as I mature in life and in my faith.

Let’s consider a more global issue, i.e. abortion. As Christians, I’m hopeful that we can all agree that it is an intrinsic evil, as identified by the teachings of the Church and documented by the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops. After 49 years, Roe v. Wade was finally overturned by the Supreme Court, an answer to many prayers by many people for many years.

With the above, we’ve seen some real ugliness, whether it be personal attacks, protesting that turns violent, pro-life facilities being vandalized, and threats being made.

As Christians, we need to abide by Matthew 7:12 and 18:22, as well as Mark 12:31. We need to recognize that ALL OF US are beloved children of God. We’re also all sinners, each and every one of us. Another verse I’m reminded of here is when Jesus says, “how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the board in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).

It may be easy to hate the protesters sited above. I get it and I’m guilty of it. Their actions are reprehensible. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. And the reality is that hating them isn’t going to change them, nor our world.

I’d encourage all of us to try very hard to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. It’s the only way we’re going to change hearts and change our world. I’d also suggest that we examine our role in all things. And always, for guidance and as our greatest example, go to Jesus.

As always, please contact me at [email protected] with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Many of us don’t make our marriages a priority. Our attention goes to our kids, their needs and activities. We focus on our careers, forcing us to spend lots of time on work. Then there are additional things outside the home like entertainment and various activities, including participating in not-for-profit initiatives. Much of this is often to the exclusion of our spouses.

It’s all part of the busyness of life. It’s not intentional or done with malice, but instead it just happens.

Culture of Me

Add to the above what has become so prevalent in our society, the culture of “me”, i.e. “me, myself, and I”. So many have lost the “other” focus in their lives. Instead it’s about our self-gratification and pleasure.

There was a time when all of the above applied to me. As such, the idea of “happy wife, happy life” used to drive me crazy. Buying into the things of the world, the phrase seemed absolutely ridiculous. What about me? What about my needs, my happiness? Why was it all about her happiness? And why did the responsibility lie with me?

That Was Then and This is Now

Well, as they say, that was then and this is now. Having experienced conversion and now being very active in my faith, my priorities are much different. I now understand that my relationship with my wife is second only in importance to my relationship with Jesus Christ. With that, for those who choose marriage there are a few truths that we need to live by:

  • Jesus has to be at the center of our marriages
  • Our number one priority needs to be helping one another get to Heaven
  • The better each of us is doing individually (spiritually and emotionally), the better our marriages will be

Die to Self and Serve the Other

In Ephesians 5:25, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her”. To be honest, before being so engaged in my faith, I wasn’t aware of the concept of sacrificial love, at least not as related to my wife (sad to say).

Jesus died on the Cross for us. Paul is telling us that we have to be willing to do the same for our wives….not just in a “heroic jump in front of the bus” kind of way, but in everyday life. We are to die to self and serve our wives, putting her first, as Jesus did the Church.

The More I Give, the More I Receive

Here’s the dirty little secret. The better I treat my wife, the more I do for her, the more I affirm and love her, the better she treats me and loves me. My intent isn’t “tit for tat”. I don’t think it can work that way. But interestingly, the more I give, the more I receive.

In my men’s group last week, I commented that when my relationship is right with my wife, I feel like I can take on the world, that nothing can stop me. The great news is that I get to create that reality every single day by truly loving the most important person in the world to me.

Love and Respect

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, “let each one of you (husband) love his wife as himself; and let the wife see that she respects the husband”.

Here’s the dirty little secret for wives, men feel loved when they’re respected. You show your husband respect and he’ll run through block walls for you. If you don’t believe the Apostle Paul or me, I’d point you to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his book, “Love and Respect” (loveandrespect.com).

And while I’m promoting marriage gurus, my wife and I have really gotten a lot out of Mark Gungor (markgungor.com), who has a great program called “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”.

As it turns out, “happy wife, happy life” applies as much to wives as it does husbands, there’s just no good word that rhymes with “husband”.
Let me know what you think at [email protected].

God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Who’s in Your Inner Circle? 

Fellowship is critical to our spiritual journeys. It serves in helping us be the best we can be while serving others in helping them to be their best. We are not meant to go through life alone. None of us. We need to be in relationship, authentic friendship, and community, which means we need to love others.

Jesus instructs us to love our neighbors in the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-39 or Mark 12:29-31). I have a good friend, Ennie Hickman, who is a speaker for the Steubenville Conferences. Ennie speaks of Jesus’ teaching as not being metaphorical or theoretical. Ennie makes the point that Jesus meant our neighbor, neighbor, our next-door neighbor, the person in the house or apartment near us. Who we see in the grocery store or post office, everywhere we look…all who God puts in our lives.

Loving our neighbors includes our families. Many people trip over those right in front of them to go do ministry elsewhere. At one time, I was guilty of this. Our ministry needs to start at home. Ephesians 5:25 says that husbands are to love their wives the way Jesus loved the Church. Jesus gave His life for the Church, loving sacrificially. I need to be willing to give my life for my wife. I need to do my best to help her get to heaven, praying with and for her. 

I didn’t get this in my first marriage. My wife needs to be my priority, with our kids being a close second, not only praying with them and for them, but trying to be a good example, always speaking truth and being charitable. 

Inner Circle vs. Outer Circle 

With family and friends, I think about our inner circle versus our outer circle. Our inner circle should include only those who help us become better versions of ourselves, who teach us, pray with us, hold us accountable, and truly love us. Everyone else should be in our outer circle. This is a challenge for some because arguably there are family members and friends who shouldn’t be in our inner circle. This is true if they aren’t moving in the same direction as you; if they don’t truly have your best interests at heart.  

The above doesn’t mean you cast them aside. Our outer circle is an opportunity for ministry, where we are called to share the love of Christ with others. 

Related to inner circle, I’m a big fan of faith-based small groups. I point to my Parish Men’s Group as critical to my journey. Before I thought “woe was me….I was the only one experiencing these things”. Then I came to understand that we all experience similar things, just characterized differently. These brothers in Christ were distant enough to not have an agenda (family often has agenda), but close enough to listen, care, tell me the truth, hold me accountable, and love me. 

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Trapped by Our Wounds

Many of us are overwhelmed by the wounds that we have. Just like tragedy, which we discussed last week, wounds are inevitable. We’re going to have them…all of us. The question or issue is…how do we allow them to impact us? 

Sometimes the things that hurt us are obvious, i.e., tragedies, accidents, painful relationships, or confrontations with other people — these things are all external and it’s easy to recognize them as the source of our hurt. Other wounds are much less obvious. They are often the scars caused by our own emotions sustained over a period of time, i.e., anger, sadness, anxiety, doubt, or fear, perhaps related to the hurts we’ve experienced, perhaps not. Emotional health demands that we become aware of these wounds so we can start the process of healing and moving forward. 

Trapped by Resentment

Resentment toward those who have hurt us can deepen and exacerbate our wounds, with most of us having experienced holding a grudge. Many are trapped and overwhelmed by resentment, it often consuming us. As pointed out last week, there’s a painfully true saying that resenting someone else is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. In reality, when you harbor resentment, the only person it really hurts is you. Even if the other person knows of it and feels its repercussions, the impact on them pales in comparison to the impact on you. Our resentment can negatively impact not only our view of the situation, but of the world we live in and the people around us.  

For quite a while, I was overwhelmed by my wounds and resentments, almost in disbelief that these seeming “injustices” could have happened to me. My first wife’s long struggle with alcoholism, the failure of our marriage, her death, the loss of my business … I experienced a range of emotions — sadness, despair, doubt, fear — and I remember being angry and bitter almost on a constant basis. It was real. It was penetrating. It hurt, sometimes almost physically. My resentments over these losses consumed me for a while. I felt very isolated, embarrassed to share the details with anyone. It was the most depressing time of my life. 

There is no question that people wrong us, hurt us, sometimes very deeply, whether with malice or not. But when we let this fact get in the way of us living with peace and joy, we only hurt ourselves. 

So how do we get out of habits of resentment and hurt? It is said that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. We need to recognize the issues that plague us, many of which are the types of wounds referenced above. Self-discovery is an important step in healing. So is research and study in helping to find solutions. Healing might also require reaching out to someone like a friend or mentor, even a therapist. Our fear in facing our wounds can be massively diminished if we don’t try to go through it all alone. 

Time Heals all Wounds 

There is at least partial truth to the saying that time heals all wounds. It was true for me. As time went on, the pain diminished and healing began to set it. That said, time alone would not have moved me past my many resentments. It was critical that I take ownership of my role in each of the painful circumstances, recognizing that I bore real responsibility for what had happened to me. And that difficult realization took time. My old wounds of low self-esteem and low self-worth, having been unresolved to that point, added to the pain of these new wounds and fostered a lot of resentment. It wasn’t until I started the challenging process of fixing myself that I could humbly acknowledge my role in my circumstances and start to heal. You can do it too!!!

I look forward to continuing to accompany you on this journey. As always, please forward any questions, comments, concerns, or prayer requests to me at [email protected]s.com

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph