Craig Groeschel - Help, These People Are Driving Me Crazy
Hey, I'm curious. How many of you at all of our church locations are online, how many of you know someone right now that's a little bit difficult to love? Raise your hands, raise your hands. Don't point at them right now. Just don't do that. But it's interesting that 2020 has seemed to made more of them. Have you noticed that? It's almost like crazies multiplying in 2020. You come to this time of year normally, just a regular Christmas season, and you get cray-cray in your family. It can be very complicated, but it seems like this year there's crazy with extra whipped cream on top of the already crazy in your lives.
In fact, I've been reading about this and experts say it's going to take decades before we fully understand the impact that COVID is having on all sorts of different things, not just our physical lives, but our spiritual lives, our mental health, and certainly our relational health. In fact, talking to many of the counselors that we work with in church right now, say, as it goes with families and marriages and relationships, the early indications show that things are not good right now. And it's no wonder because this year has created the perfect scenario for tension. You essentially shut down the world for a significant period of time. You're forced to spend enormous amounts of time with some people, and almost no time at all with other people.
If you're a parent, suddenly you're a homeschooler whether you wanted to or not. There's all the complications with school. There's compounding disappointment after disappointment after disappointment after loss on top of all the fears of health and financial worries. Then you take what I call the unholy trinity. There is the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now there's an unholy trinity. What are the two things that you never talk about at the dinner table or talk about with loved ones? You don't talk about religion or politics, right? There's a third one now and it's science, science. Nine months ago, I didn't know anybody that was an expert in science.
Now, everybody is because you've watched three YouTube videos and you've listened to a podcast. And now you take these three, science, what you know to be true about masks or the virus, you know because you've read it or you've heard it, mixed with your politics, which you know, one side's here and the other side here, mixed with your religion, "Well, if you have faith, you'd do this or if you have faith to do that," you come up with the unholy trinity that's creating some of the meanest people I've ever seen. How many of you have somebody who's difficult to love right now? It's incredibly complicated out there.
Someone said that this is the age of perpetual offense. Have you noticed that? People right now, they're quick to become angry, they're quick to judge, they're quick to call foul, they're incredibly quick to be offended. "You hurt me, you wronged me, I'm going to cancel you". What I've noticed is that if you're on a continual search to be offended, you will always find what you're looking for. I can promise you. If you're always looking to be hurt, to be offended, to be wronged, or to be angry, you will always find what you're looking for. The challenge is there is absolutely no win whatsoever in living offended.
I've never met a single person who said like "My life is so much more productive because I'm pissed off everywhere I go". I've never heard that. I've never heard anyone say like "The quality of my life is so much better because I'm angry and find fault everywhere I go". We have to understand is people right now are hurting, people are all on edge, they're going to hurt you, they're going to offend you. We need to recognize that being offended is inevitable, but living offended is a choice. It's a choice. It's a choice. And as followers of Christ, we will choose wisely. We're in a message series called "Missing Peace". The title of today's message is "Help, These People are Driving Me Crazy"! And with that, we're going to seek God for some true relational peace from Jesus who is our peace, would you pray with me wherever you're watching.
Father, we ask that in the same way we've been loved by You, that You would help us to love others, showing Your grace, Your mercy. And God, I ask not just for physical miracles, but I ask for relational miracles. Wherever marriages or family or friendships have been strained, by the power of your Holy Spirit, would you bring healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and restoration in relationships today? We pray this in the one who is our peace, Jesus, and all God's people said. Amen. Amen, amen.
Are you ready for a tough scripture today? If you're ready, say "I'm ready". Are you ready? Ready. Type it in the chat, "I'm ready". You asked for it, are you ready? Ready. You asked for it. Let's dive in, Romans 12:14-18. Easy to read, incredibly difficult to live. This is what the apostle Paul said. If you've got anyone who's a little bit difficult to love right now, Paul said this. He said, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse". He teaches us as followers of Christ that we're to "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn". He tells us to "live in a harmony with one another". He says, "Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position". He tells us, "Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone".
Verse 18 is our key verse, we're gonna come back to this later in our message. The apostle Paul tells us, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone". "If it's possible, as far as it's up to you," your will, your ways, your ability, "live at peace with everyone". Let's start off at the beginning. When Paul says this, he says, "Bless those". Somebody say, bless. Bless. He says, "Bless those who persecute you". We could say, "Bless those who are mean to you. Bless those who are short with you. Bless those who disagree with you". He says, "Bless those who persecute you".
What does it mean to bless? Well, the word bless comes from the Greek word, eulogeo, which means... It's spelled E-U-L-O-G-E-O, it's a little bit like eulogy. You know what that would be. E-U means good. The logos, logos means word. What this word, eulogeo, means, it means a good word or very literally it means to speak well of or to wish the best blessings for someone. I want you to think about this. Speak well of and wish the best blessings for someone who's rude to you. Speak well of and wish the best blessings for someone who betrays you. "Bless those who persecute you".
Now, I don't know about you, but it's real easy for me to wish the best for you if I like you, it's the rest of you that make it difficult for me. It's easy to bless someone who's a blessing, to be nice to someone who's nice, to be generous with someone who's generous. It's incredibly difficult though, when someone offends you, when someone's harsh to you, when someone belittles you, someone leaves you out, hurts your feelings or betrays you. In fact, there's a really dark part of me, and I hate to even say this out loud. I don't know if any of you are this dark. But there's a sick part of me when someone I don't like, someone I don't trust, someone I don't respect gets something bad in their life, there's a very sick part of me that kind of likes it.
And I hate to say it. You can look there and act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Just polish your halo and act like you're better than everybody else. There's a part of me that just is kind of like, I don't know if you're ever driving down the road, the speed limit, and someone in like a sports car flies by you, 90 miles an hour; and five miles later, they're pulled over by a police officer. Oh, there's a secret part of me that wants to roll down the window and preach, "You reap what you sow, ya idiot! Speed devil". Whatever it is because they got what's coming to them. But Paul gives us a very specific, very direct command. And in the Greek language, his command is what's called a present imperative. And what that means is any time in the Greek language you see a present imperative, that means to do what you're told to do and keep on doing it. It's not a one-time action.
Very literally when Paul said, "Bless those who persecute you," you could translate it, "Be a continual blessing to those who are a continual problem". Wow. That's what he's saying. "Be a continual blessing". I don't know about you, but like I could be a blessing to someone who's a problem for probably a good solid five seconds. I can do it for a minute, but after a while, if they're continually a burden to me or offensive to me, at some point I snap, I snap, and I want to retaliate. The flesh in me wants to retaliate. I have come a long way. Amy, of course, is in the service and she'll tell you I have matured so much in my ability to handle criticism or mistreatment.
I honestly think today I've come to such a place, if someone hit me one time, I honestly think I could have the patience and the love to "turn the other cheek," that's what Jesus taught. But I have you know, someone hits me one time, I am praying they hit me a second time. Because Jesus never said what to do if they hit you twice and it's gonna go down if they hit me twice. I mean, there's the human part of me is just like anybody else. I don't wanna bless someone who's mean to me. And yet Paul is giving us this imperative, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that we, as followers of Christ, are to be a continual blessing to those who are a continual problem.
How do we do that? It's completely impossible in my nature to ever do that. The only way we can do what Paul's talking about in Romans 12 is to understand the context of Romans 12. I want to go back to the very first verse in this chapter. This gives us the context that sets up the how we love people that are so difficult to love. Paul starts off this way and he says something very rich. He says, "In view of God's mercy". Somebody say "God's mercy". God's mercy.
How merciful has God been to you? How much has He forgiven you from that you didn't deserve? How much has He blessed you beyond what you've earned? In view of that, in view of God's goodness for you, in view of His grace for you, Paul tells us "to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice". Interesting phrase, I want to come back to that. In view of who God is and what He's done, offer your lives "as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true and proper worship". I love this, if you want to worship God, worshiping God isn't just the songs we sing, it's the life we live. Loving people as we've been loved is a spiritual act of worship. How do we do this? Paul says we're "a living sacrifice".
Now that seems like a contradiction of terms. Think about it, living sacrifice. Generally, when I think of sacrifices, I think of dead sacrifices. What's a living sacrifice? Think about this. Anytime an animal was sacrificed, if the animal could know they're taking volunteers, how many little lambs do you think would say, "Baa, I'd like to be sliced, slit my throat". None of them will do that. When you think about living sacrifice, I think of the Lamb of God who, when He was alive said, "I am willing to die". Living sacrifice, no one chose. He said, "No one takes My life, I lay it down".
How do we love others? We lay down our own natural responses. We lay down our own selfish desires. We die to ourselves so that Christ can love others through us. Paul said it this way in Galatians 2:20. My pastor who passed away last week used to preach it like this. My pastor would say this, he would say, "I am crucified with Christ". And then he would run over to the other side and he say, "But nevertheless, I live". Then he'd say, "But it's no longer I who lives, but it's Christ who lives in me". How do we love people? It's not, it's not me. I don't have that in me ever, ever in my own self. I want to hit that, fight back, retaliate. But it's not me, I've died to me. But it's Christ inside of me. That's how we do it. In view of what God has done, I let Christ love through me.
Paul goes on to say this in verse 16, he says, "Live in harmony with one another". Great verse when you go out to the mall. "Live in a harmony with one another". Then he says, "Do not be proud". Somebody say, "Do not be proud". Do not be proud. And he says, "Do not be conceited," say it. Do not be conceited. He says, "Do not be proud and do not be conceited". Let me say this to you, do not be proud and do not be conceited. Let me say it again, do not be proud and do not be conceited. Let me say it again. I'm saying it to you, not the person that you think I'm saying it to. "Say it to 'em, pastor, preach it". I'm sayin' to you. You, listen, do not be proud and do not be conceited.
In the Greek language, let me tell you how this is translated, write it down. You ready? It means, literally, do not be proud and do not be conceited. I ain't never seen so many proud and conceited people right now. I mean everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. The people in the church, proud and conceded in Jesus' name. I've never seen so many right people. "I'm right. I'm right. I'm proud I'm right. Doggone it, I'm right. I know it all, I'm right. I've watched four YouTube videos and listened to three very biased podcasts, and I got a friend who knows someone who sent me an email. I'm right. I'm right. Everybody else is wrong. Ya stupid idiots, that's all you are, you're a stupid idiot. You stupid idiot, I'm right".
Listen to me, right person. Remember Jesus didn't tell us to be right. Jesus told us to be loving, to be loving, to be loving. He told us to be loving. He didn't say the world was gonna know us by how correct we are. He said they'd know us by how loving we are. I don't know if we're still talking politics, but I just want to talk politics. I haven't anybody real mad at me in like two days. So I just, I'm missing it. I just want to talk politics for just a minute 'cause I've been wanting to get this off my chest. It's bizarre to me how many of my conservative friends, and I'm talking directly to some of you, yes, you.
Some of my conservative friends will say things like "I can't believe anybody liberal could ever love Jesus. There's no way they could love Jesus". And on the other hand, I've got some liberal friends who say, "Republicans are a bunch of hatemongers. There's no way they could really love Jesus". If you live in either one of those extremes, I want to invite you to get out of your pathetically small world for just a moment. I'm serious, I'm dead serious. Listen to me, no joking aside. If you can't for a moment visualize someone else who was born in another part of the world, around a totally different way of thinking, with different parents, maybe a different skin color, perhaps different friends, different opportunities, and different threats, and you can't imagine for a moment how someone could love Jesus from a different perspective at a different point in their walk than you can, come on guys.
When people talk, don't listen to respond, don't listen to correct; listen to understand and listen to love. We start with grace and then we lead toward truth. If you can't understand another perspective, your impact is always going to be limited. We're followers of Christ, we have to be bigger than that. I had a counselor who explained it to me this way. The counselor said, "You're gonna face conflict and you're gonna face misunderstandings and you're gonna face differences of perspective because you don't understand. And because our brains are biologically wired to protect or defend, what you tend to do is you tend to tell a story that explains whatever part you don't understand".
So if someone is unkind with you or short or has a different opinion about something, you make up a story about them to fill in the gaps. We do this all the time. For example, if I'm short with you or if I'm late or I do something wrong, I judge myself by my intentions, but I tend to judge you by your actions. In other words, if I wasn't kind or I was little bit short, I'll say, "Hey, you know my intentions, that wasn't what I meant. I mean, I was running late and you should understand. I'm a good, we're fine". But if you are short with me, I judge you by your actions, "You're a jerk, you're a loser. You need Jesus to save your pathetic soul". And so what we tend to do is we tend to tell ourselves a story about something we don't understand. And what the devil wants us to do is whenever we tell a story about someone else, he wants the premise to be accusations because he is the great accuser, he's the accuser of the brethren.
So if someone does something to hurt me or offend me, he wants me to say, "Well, I can't trust her. Well, he's only out for himself" or "People are always gonna lie to you" or "They're always gonna let you down" or "Christians aren't this" or "They're not bad" or "Conservatives this" or "Liberals are that" or "My mom's always goin' to" or "Your dad's always goin' to". Accusation, accusation, accusation. The devil wants our stories to be rooted in accusation, but God wants our stories to be rooted in love, in love. Because what do accusations do? Accusations erode marriages. And some of you are seeing that right now in your very own. Accusations split friendships. Accusations divide churches.
And that's why Paul said, "Let it all be in love," Ephesians 4:2, he said, "Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other's faults because of your," what? "Because of your love. Amen. Because of your love". They're not gonna know us by how correct we are. The world's gonna know us by the way we love. That's why, remember, you're gonna be offended, it's inevitable. Living offended is a choice. I tell myself over and over and over and over and over again, this truth, and I hope you'll tell yourself this truth, that your life is too short and you're calling too great to be offended by something small. Your life is short, it's a mist, it's here a little while. Your calling is one by God Himself to show His love. Your life is too short and your calling is too great to be offended by something small.
Imagine if Jesus was easily offended. Think about it, how He couldn't do His mission. Imagine if Jesus was easily offended. "Matthew, you weren't paying attention to My sermon. I said, 'Blessed are the meek for they'll inherit...' You didn't even write that down. I healed 10 lepers, only one came back. Nobody cares for Me, nobody appreciates Me. I can't go on. Thomas, you didn't even brag on my miracle. I raised the dead, I didn't just open blind eyes, I raised a freakin' dead! Thomas, always doubting, I just can't count on Thomas". Being offended is inevitable, living offended is a choice.
Proverbs 19 is so powerful. It says this, "A person's wisdom yields patience and it's to one's glory," to do what? "It's to one's glory to overlook an offense". Wouldn't it be amazing that because of God's love for us, we got better at overlooking offenses. What does it mean to overlook an offense? This isn't the same as pretending that it didn't happen. Overlooking an offense is a conscious decision to let it go. It's essentially like real time forgiveness. It's forgiveness in the moment. The word overlook in the Hebrew language is the word avor, and it means to pass over, it means to get up above.
Life's too short, your calling is too great to be offended by something small. You get over it. I'm over it, I'm on top of it. My mission is more important than this, my calling is greater I'm over this. You can play down there, but I'm not coming down there with you. We got more important things to do. I'm over it. Somebody say, "I'm over it". I'm over it. Type it in chat, "I'm over it, I'm over it, I'm over". Someone's rude to you? I'm over it. Your mother-in-law corrects your kids again? That's a tough one. I'm over it. Someone makes a passive aggressive statement? I'm over it. Your spouse makes fun of the way you chew or walked or unloads the dishes? Seriously, I'm over it. I'm over it. She's over it. We've got more important things to do.
Listen, apply this to the jerk at the mall, most importantly, apply it to the people you love the most. Apply it to the people at home. Sometimes people ask me sometimes, they'll say, "You and Amy look like you've got amazing marriage. Do you really have an amazing marriage? I see you on Instagram". Yes, like honest to goodness, honest to goodness, it's like the best marriage I've ever seen. It's incredible. It's blessed. But I want you to know this.
We do have constructive discussions. You know what that is, that's preacher language for intense arguments, we do. This season right now that we're in, I don't know if we've disagreed as much on some of the major issues. We've had very significant different opinions. We sometimes differ on our philosophies on parenting. Sometimes I'm more strict, sometimes she's more strict. Sometimes we disagree on how I should be leading the church. I'm doing it, and she's right, and she lets me know. And we get into arguments that are bathed in love, that are bathed in love. Because love doesn't seek to win the argument, love seeks to protect the relationship.
Church, in your effort to be right, some of you have forgotten to be loving. I've never seen anybody better at overlooking than Amy. It's amazing. I'll be short, I might be sarcastic, I might be harsh, and she just keeps on going. I'm over it. I'm choosing to overlook that. Our marriage, our ministry, our calling is too great to be caught up in something so small. Sometimes she'll even tell me in real time, "I'm choosing to overlook that". And then she does. In other words, I'm not going to let a hurt accumulate upon another hurt, we're lettin' that go. We've got so much more important things to do. This is our key verse in all of it, how you love those people that are difficult to love. We all have them.
Verse 18 of Romans 12, Paul said this, he said, "If it's possible, as far as it depends on you". And the fact that he said... I love the fact that in God's grace, he gave us the clause meaning sometimes you can't control what somebody else does. "But as far as it depends on you," whatever's within your power, whatever's in your response, we're gonna "live at peace with everyone, everyone". That means the person that you're not talking to right now. As far as it goes with you, you're gonna do what's right. That person who was really rude to you, the person that wronged you and took advantage of you, as far as it depends on you, you're gonna do what's right. Because listen to me, life is too short and your calling is too great to be offended by something small.
I'll tell you my greatest personal regret, and I hope and pray I never have one greater than this one. Last week, I told you that my Pastor Nick is now in heaven. He's having a better day than we are right now. He is in heaven. And he helped me get into ministry, as well as over 30 other women and men, he helped get into ministry. One of them was my best friend in my twenties, his name was Jay. And Jay was one of the best young pastors I'd ever met, we were super close. And Jay got into a place where he made some unwise and very hurtful decisions. And one time, I confronted Jay on it and Jay's response wasn't great and my response to his not great response was even worse. And we didn't talk for a period of time.
About two weeks into that period of not talking, I was writing a message called, I remember the title, "Loving Those You Don't Like," and Jay was my sermon illustration in my mind because I loved him, but at the moment I was mad at him. And I realized I should reach out to him, but I didn't do it. And a few days later, I preached that message on a Tuesday and driving home, I'm sure Amy remembers, I leaned over to her and said, "I've got to reach out to him. This is too silly, I love him too much, and I'm gonna call him tonight when I get home". This was pre-cellphone days, we got home and there was a voice message on our answering machine that his wife had found him and he had taken his life. It is my number one regret. And if I told you the whole story what you would do is you would say, "Craig, you were right" because I was right in this situation.
If Jay were here today, Jay would say, "Yeah, you were right". I was right, 100%. I was right, but I wasn't loving. And I tell you that because I can't undo what happened and I don't have another chance with him, but some of you, you still have a chance with somebody. You still have a chance. You still have a chance for your fractured marriage to be healed. You still have a chance to begin a relationship with your child or your mom or your dad that you haven't talked to for years. You still have a chance to forgive someone who wronged you and maybe see a miraculous restoration story that only God could write. Many of you, you still have a chance.
And so when I tell you the assignment is tough, it's tough. It's tough and you can't do it on your own. You need help from the One who is peace and brings relational peace. What you're gonna say though is, "But they're not whatever. They're not being nice. They didn't apologize. They're not being kind. Takes two to reconcile". Yes, it takes two to reconcile, but it takes one to forgive. It takes two to reconcile, but it takes one to be loving.
And so as far as it depends on you, as far as it depends on me, we're gonna live at peace with everyone. I promise you people are gonna let you down, I'll let you down. I may have ticked you off today. Being offended is inevitable, but living that way as a choice. And just remember, Jesus, the One who is our peace, He didn't tell us to always be right, He told us to always be loving. So as far as it depends on us, on me, on you, what are we going to do as followers of Christ? We're gonna do our best by the power of the Spirit of God in our hearts to live at peace with everyone. And it's my prayer today that for someone, that could be just what you need for healing in a relationship that's broken.
So Father, we ask that You would do what only You can do. Do a work in our hearts today.
As you're praying, maybe watching from countries around the world at Church Online, could be a you're streaming this on YouTube months or years later, or you're watching live right now at a live church location, and you are a follower of Christ, and you want to do whatever you can, wherever you are, whoever you interact with to live at peace in every situation, whether it's the rude person out in public, the hurtful person in your home, if your prayer is, "God help me to live at peace," would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up. I hope it's everybody today, I really do. As your hands are up or you could even put them down and relax for a moment, I want to pray for you and I want to pray very specifically for those of you that have a broken relationship and really need help from God for healing.
Father, give us all a love that comes from heaven, a love that we can't generate from our own sinful, fleshly self. But help us to die to ourselves as living sacrifices. But yet it's not us living, it's Christ, it's His love, your love through us. God, I pray now, especially for those who have seriously wounded relationships, broken trust, broken friendships, broken relationships with parents or children, broken marriages. God, we thank You that You're a God of restoration, You're a God of healing, You're a God of forgiveness. And we pray for miracles, God, if nothing else, miracles in our hearts, God. Let's just start there. Help us to forgive, help us to rise above, help us to let go, help us to consciously, in the moment, choose to forgive. God, help us to give the massive, what feels like unforgivable, offenses and help us to let the small ones go without even hesitating. God, in the way You've loved us, would you help us love others? We pray for miraculous healing and restoration in relationships today, and may they start in our hearts. As far as it depends on us, God, help us to live at peace.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, there are those of you, you're gonna recognize when it comes to the most important potential relationship of all, the one with God, you're not at peace. If we sat down and I just ask you kind of, "Where are you? How are you doing with God"? You might hem-haw around and say, "Well, you know, I watched some sermons" or "I went to church" or "I try to be good, I try not to be bad," whatever it is, but there's not peace in your heart. The good news is I believe that you're watching today is not an accident, it's by the grace of a God who loves you and loved you so much that He did something for you you couldn't do for yourself. He sent His Son, why? Because He loves you, because He loves you.
God so loved you that He became like you. He sent His Son, Jesus, born of a virgin, perfect in every way, the Lamb of God, the Living Sacrifice, the One who said, "I lay down my life, no one takes it". And Jesus gave His life on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins so that you who believe in Him, no matter what you've done, when you call on His name, that name that is above every name, He hears your prayers, He forgives your sins, He heals your heart, He mends your brokenness.
Wherever you're watching, from those who say, "I need His grace, I want peace with Him". Just take a step away from your old life, step toward Him as you are. Call on that name that is above every name. When He hears your prayer, He'll forgive your sin, you become new. The old is gone, the new is here. Today, at all of our churches or wherever you're watching, those who say, "Yes, I want Him, I want peace with God. I surrender my life. I give my life today. I give my life to Jesus". That's your prayer, lift your hands high now all over the place, say, "Yes".
As we've got hands going up at churches across our country and around the world, we welcome you, we celebrate with you, we thank God for you. Those of you online, just type it in the chat, "I'm giving my life to Jesus". Just type that in as an indication, that you're sayin', "Yes, my life is no longer mine. I'm a living sacrifice, I'm dying to myself, I'm gonna live for Christ". Wherever you're watching from, would you just pray with those around you? Then we're gonna celebrate big, the work of God, His grace in your life. Pray out loud, pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Change me. Make me brand new. God, fill me with Your Holy Spirit. So I can live Your will. And love Your ways. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. Help me to live Your mission. To show Your love. Thank You for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus name, I pray. In Jesus' name.
Could somebody celebrate really, really big? Welcome some amazing people into the family of God.