Many years ago, a very good friend of mine handed me a book that was typewritten and had a very simple cover, written by a woman that had been abused by her husband and had to run for her life. She had written the book in the safety of a shelter, not about her abusive life with her husband, but about how Jesus was with her and healing her, providing her with the safety of the knowledge that He was with her. The book was filled with comforting Scriptures and given to women especially who were in similar circumstances as she. I was given the book because I was struggling with emotional problems, not at all because I was being abused. In fact, I have the privilege of enjoying a wonderful marriage with a very sweet and supportive husband.
If we think about abuse, we often think of it in physical terms. A person is struck by another person, and the physical evidence is obvious. But there’s an abuse that is unseen to the physical eye, and that is emotional and mental abuse. This can come in many different forms, from mild to severe, and the results are the same. You end up with a wound and a scar that will need to be healed. I would be very surprised to find one person alive who does not have an emotional or mental wound that someone else has inflicted on them. Although there are different degrees to wounding, healing is needed nevertheless.
When I mentioned before that I realized I had wounded someone, the word “disappointment” came up. The person I had let down was disappointed in me and my decision to cancel an outing I had promised I would go on with them. Although I realized too late that I shouldn’t have made this commitment in the first place, still, it bothered me that I had disappointed this person. I wondered, What can I do to make it up to them, and will they ever trust me again to follow through on a commitment?
While I was pondering and stewing about how I had let this person down, other things came to my mind that broadened this whole idea of disappointing someone, and possibly wounding them. For one thing, events can happen unexpectedly that can change a schedule in a matter of seconds. For me it was my health and also a financial situation that hadn’t improved. So we should always be prepared for the unexpected, and not take it to heart if someone inadvertently disappoints us and cancels an event that has been planned for. Secondly, I realized that sometimes people have unrealistic expectations of us that we just can’t possibly live up to. If other people in our lives don’t take the time to really get to know us, they will set themselves up for disappointment time and time again. And we must do the same with them, find out who they really are, what they like and dislike, what their plans are and what is important to them. Thirdly, and this is where the soul begins to be revealed, we must pray for people that they are open to knowing God’s will for their lives, so that they don’t mistakenly put their own agenda for us above God’s will for us.
Let me explain this further. Many places in Scripture we find that God has a perfect and “specific” will for our lives, and that He is working things out in and through us all the time. We also find that many times our will is actually interfering with what God wants to do in our life and in the life of others. The following Scriptures describe the fact that God is faithfully working on us, in us and through us irrespective of what we do to bring things about:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ephesians 1:5
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: Ephesians 1:8-9
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6
Some people may think that this means God is busy working on us and changing us and we don’t even have to think about it, or even pray about His working in our lives. And if we are really off track, God will reel us in, convict us, rebuke us, and set us straight again. But I don’t believe God wants to work with us this way. If you read about His relationship with the children of Israel, God hated the fact that they were so stubborn towards Him that He had to treat them harshly just to get their attention. He loved them and wanted them to have a trusting relationship with Him more than anything. The following Scripture describes their attitude towards God:
Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. 2 Kings 17:14
So we need to be in tune with God’s will not only for ourselves, but pray for others that they also follow and obey God’s specific will for their own lives. What peace and harmony would result if we all did this! If we have not prayed about our day, we may miss many opportunities to be a blessing to another. We may do thoughtless things and not even think twice about it, then end up hurting or injuring another person. And sometimes things will pile up and we’ll end up with too much stress and too many people are expecting things of us that we can’t fulfill. This can put us in a bad mood and then we end up taking out our frustrations on loved ones. So prayer will bring us into a place of quietness and assurance and will still our soul.
The title of this chapter is “The Soul Revealed.” As revealed in God’s Word, the soul is unregenerate until Jesus comes into our hearts and makes all things new. This is the tremendous Gospel and Good News that gives us so much joy and great hope. The following are some important verses in the Bible that describe our new life when Jesus comes into our heart, and also how we need to respond to this new life:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Colossians 3:1-10
As new people in Christ, we must shed the old ways and determine to live in the new life we have been given. What a difference this will make in all of our relationships and in our life in general. In the above passage, special emphasis is given in verses 8 and 9 to no longer communicate to others as we once did. Now we must exemplify the Lord’s ways (verse 10) according to the new life He’s given us. And even after we are made new by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit (Jesus), we will still hurt people if we do not continue to walk in the newness of life we have been given. When Jesus comes into our life, things are different; we are no longer the master of our souls, but Jesus is because He bought us and redeemed us when He died for us on the cross. In exchange we have been given a new life and we are now freed from the tyranny of sinful desires ruling over us. So we must not only consider what pleases Him, but take full advantage of this new freedom we have been given and walk joyfully in it.
In the next chapter we are going to discuss more in-depth the life of the soul in order to understand how to overcome the many demands of our own flesh, and also how our soul affects all of our relationships both in good and not so good ways.