Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, January 17th. Harsh behavior from others can leave deep scars, but Jesus Christ offers to be the source of our strength when we are abused. Here's hope for healing. Three times the night before the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, he said this to his disciples. He said, Love one another. Love one another. Love one another.
And then throughout the epistles we find the writers of the epistles saying things like this. Accept one another. Care for one another. Comfort one another. Encourage one another.
Forgive one another. Be patient with one another. Be hospitable toward one another. Be subject to one another. Serve one another. All through the Scriptures, God is giving us instructions about our relationship to each other.
And when you think about all that is said in just those phrases that I've given you, love one another, serving one another, encouraging each other, stimulating one another, all of this makes something very, very clear. It is never under any circumstance justifiable to abuse someone else. Abuse doesn't fit who we are as believers. It is never the will of God for his children to be abused. And the word simply means to harm someone, to injure them in some fashion, whether it is a physical abuse, sexual abuse, whether it is verbal abuse or emotional abuse.
It doesn't make any difference what it is. None of that fits into what Jesus said when he said love one another. And so what I would like to do in this message is simply to share with you some things that are helpful I hope to people who are being abused. In every church all over this land and in every nation on the face of this earth there are people by the millions and millions and millions who have been abused, who are being abused, who have no earthly idea what to do and how to deal with that situation.
So in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth chapters of John, this is where Jesus said to his disciples, love one another. And so instead of taking a passage of Scripture in this message and expounding it, I want to give you some suggestions about how to deal with this whole problem of abuse. But I want to begin by distinguishing between abuse and discipline. Now, let me say this, that there are a lot of people who have been abused and some people would term abuse different things. For example, if someone is just criticized, they say, well, you have abused me.
I'm not talking about simple criticism, but I'm talking about that verbal or emotional abuse that is really damaging in a person's life. Now, when we think about abuse and we think about how people respond to it, people respond to it in all different ways. And some people will live all of their lives and never even question whether they have been abused or not.
They will somehow wonder what's going on inside of them and never be able to identify what the root cause is. Some people know that they have been abused, but never have the courage to face up to it. People especially who are sexually abused early in life, they cover it up, they keep it covered because they're embarrassed, not realizing that when this happens, it will come out some way or the other and it will spew out on people around them.
You cannot cover those kind of abuses. And so when we think about the distinction between abuse and discipline, let me just say that discipline is always directed toward a person because of their behavior, always directed toward a specific behavior. Whereas abuse has nothing to do with a person's behavior, it has to do with something on the inside of the abuser like a volcano that comes spewing out. It is anger, hostility, fear, bitterness, resentment, whatever it might be, but it's coming out. And what it does, it attaches itself or reacts toward a person that has nothing to do with that person's behavior.
It's something on the inside of them. It is a predisposition that is there and just looking for an excuse to express itself on someone else. Discipline always has the best behavior of the other person in mind. It has as its purpose to correct something that the parent may know is not wise in the life of that child. Whereas abuse is not concerned about someone's behavior or someone's best interest, it is getting something out that is on the inside.
Discipline is rooted in love, love for a person that desires the best for them and therefore that discipline is exercised. And so there's a great distinction between being abused and being disciplined. What I would like to do is to share some suggestions with you of things that can be helpful to you who are abused and who have been abused. And you may say, well, you know, I never had an abuse.
Wonderful. Then you ought to get on your knees and thank God that you grew up in a family where your mom and dad loved you and took care of you and provided for you and sustained you and encouraged you along and helped you in every way possible. You ought to just thank God and don't take them for granted. The other people who've been abused greatly, horribly, when you think about parents who would take little children, deprive them of food and water, lock them in a closet. Can you imagine children being treated that way? Or being sexually abused in ways that you and I cannot even begin to imagine? Husbands beating up on their wives, wives beating up on their husbands, all kinds of things that go on. And so that abuse can be emotional abuse. Listen, just rejection, rejection, rejection is horrible emotional abuse.
And so it is with verbal abuse, someone who is always cursing and profaning and belittling and saying you'll never amount to anything. You never were anything. You weren't wanted. You were an accident. If you don't think that is abuse, you check that mind of that child, of that young person, that adult.
That tape's been going on for years and years and years. I am nothing. I'm not worth anything. I was an accident. I was not wanted.
And on and on and on it goes. It has devastating damage in the life of that person. So let me just begin by saying two things. Number one, I'm sure that I don't have any earthly idea what abuse is like compared to most people. So I would not tell you anything about myself to say look how awful my background was, but simply to say this. I share it because I want to say to you that if I'm willing to share it, you ought to be able and be willing to share maybe things that have hurt you in your past that you need to deal with, and you just don't think you can tell anybody, yes you can.
Because sharing it is part of the healing process. When I was about nine years of age, my mother married the second time my father passed away when I was nine months of age. And so she married a man that she thought would make me a good father. And about two weeks into that marriage, she realized that something was really wrong.
By the time I was a teenager and I had seen some things go on, like my mother being choked and knowing that if I had had the privilege at the moment, no telling what I would have done to my stepfather if I could have at that moment, loading my gun at night and placing it in the corner of the bedroom where I slept by the bed and locking the door because I didn't always know what was going to happen. And I know that may sound like well that doesn't sound very Christ-like. Right.
You're right. But I was saved when I was twelve years of age, but I was scared. The worst thing about leaving home to go to college was leaving my mother in a bad situation.
And I will not even describe all the things that went on, except to say this. If you think that growing up in difficult circumstances does not have any effect on you, then you better think twice. Because you see, all of us have a tape in our mind. And that tape has on it all the things that you and I began with from the time of our birth, maybe even before our birth.
And either we recognize that, identify what's on the tape and deal with it, or we suffer from it all the days of our life. And thank God, thank God for people in my life who have given me direction in years past to check out my own life and to be sure that I don't have any of that hostility and anger and bitterness and resentment left over from things that happened to me, because I have dealt with them. But I say all that to say I know nothing about abuse compared to what so many people suffer here, and not only in this country, but I think about people who've suffered such horrible, horrible abuse in other nations of the world, the way that governments have treated them, and the way people have hurt physically, sexually, spiritually, mentally, emotionally in ways that most of us will never begin to understand. So how do you respond to all of these things? Well, let me say, and I want to give you a number of things, and you may just jot them down, and you may not need them at all.
Wonderful, I hope you don't. But I'll tell you one thing, you either live with someone who does, or you work around someone who does, or you have a friend who does, I guarantee you, you don't have to reach much further than arm's length to find somebody around you who is suffering from abuse and does not know that that's the problem, who will go through life unable to relate, can't ever be satisfied, walking out of situations, things don't get right, they run away, whatever it might be, not realizing that all of that stuff and junk was there, was given to them many years ago, maybe not so many years ago, and now they're having to deal with it. So the first thing I want to suggest is simply this, and that is, as you think in terms of dealing with these things and how to deal with them, number one, to seek God's guidance.
Lord, what would you have me to do? Now listen, there is no pat answer as to what to do in an abusive situation, because all abuse is not the same, all of it is not motivated the same way, and so to say to somebody, well, just get out, that is not always the answer. And some people will use that word abuse today as an excuse to run or to escape. We're talking about the kind of abuse that brings great injury and great hurt. And so here is a person, for example, who is physically being abused and physically being inflicted and injured. Then to say to that person to stay within that situation, no. Or someone, for example, who is being emotionally abused.
You may say, well, they should just leave. You can't say that to everybody for the simple reason, that's why we say you ask God what you ought to do. And remember this, listen carefully, God will never tell you to do anything that violates the living Word of God. All of us are going to suffer from some things in life.
And just because I don't like my circumstances to decide that I'm going to leave them is absolutely inexcusable in the eyes of God. That's why you cannot say to everyone, well, here's what I would do, listen carefully, don't tell somebody what you would do. You don't know what you would do until you got into that situation and you were suffering the way that person was suffering. I think about these children, small children who can't get out, who can't leave, who like prisoners, the horrible parents who want to abuse them and vent some kind of emotional hostility and anger and bitterness and resentment on their children.
It is beyond my comprehension that people could so mistreat a helpless child. So when we say, seek the Lord's guidance, He may say, you stay right where you are and pray for the transformation of that person. You pray for that person to be saved. You pray for God to change them.
He will show you exactly what to do. Be very sure you have God's Word of instruction as to what you should do in that situation. Secondly, pray for the abuser. Pray for the abuser. You say, well, I've prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing has happened. Well, let me give you something specific to pray for. If I had known this when I was a kid growing up, I would have known how to better to respond to my stepfather.
But I didn't know this. And that is, pray for God to show you what motivates that person to act the way they act. Why does that person abuse someone else?
Why do they try to injure them? Well, a lot of years went by and so I went to see my stepfather and they lived, my mom was still there then and they lived together, always did till he died. And so I went to see him to ask him to forgive me for my wrong responses to him. Because I'm sure I responded wrongly and on several occasions it could have been a disaster. And so I went to ask him to forgive me and I sat on across the table at lunch and I said, call him by name and I said, I just need to ask you to forgive me for some things. And I immediately, he said, oh, you shouldn't. I said, no, just let me finish. I never accused him of anything. I just said, I need to ask you to forgive me for some things. And then as we began to talk, my stepfather told me about this.
I wish I'd known this years ago. He said, it just came out. It's not something he intended to tell me. He said, you know, when I was a boy, he said, I wanted to be a doctor. And I told my father I wanted to go to college and be a doctor. And he says, he wouldn't let me go to college. He made me stay on the farm and work. And he said, I had to work on the farm. He wouldn't let me get off. He wouldn't let me go anywhere. He just made me work every day. He said, till finally, I just left.
I just picked up my little stuff and I left. What he was feeling toward his father, he spewed on me, my mother, his brothers, his sisters, and everybody else. Our friends, people he worked with, he spewed all of that on them. Now, that's what happens when the poison of bitterness, resentment, hostility, and anger is on the inside of you.
Now, you mark this down. When a man is mistreated by his father or his mother, parents, unless he deals with it, he's going to mistreat somebody else, maybe his wife, maybe his children. And this is why there's so many people who are acting certain ways. They don't know why they act the way they act.
They can give you logical reasons for what they're doing. But deep down inside, it is something else. And so what happens is, things that happen to us very early in life, we are going to express them.
And so we will express them toward the people that we love. We will hurt the very folks that we love and won't know why we're doing it. Oftentimes, when you understand the motivation of the abuser, something can happen. And that's why I say it's so important to pray for the person who's abusing you because once that person begins to realize why they're being, what's motivating the person who's abusing them, then you can become more of a help to help that abuser.
Though there are situations and circumstances where that abuser may have to be put away if it's someone who is absolutely mentally incapable of dealing with reality. And let me say this, if you refuse to deal with it, you are going to hurt and destroy the people you love most while you cover up what has happened in your past. You are destroying the people who are living in your present.
It happens every day. And it brings great hurt and turmoil. And that's why just to hold it down, push it down, deny it, refuse that it's ever happened or it's ever been there is devastating to people who love you with all of their heart. The third thing I would suggest is this, and that is do not to blame God. Do not blame God. The one thing Satan would love for you to do is say, well, God did this. Here's what God did. God wanted to correct my life and God wanted to get rid of sin in my life. And so He caused my parent or my son or my daughter to abuse me.
Listen to me carefully. God never under any circumstance ever instigates, institutes, initiates in any fashion any kind of abuse. That is not of God. That is totally opposite of everything God says.
He says love one another and serve one another and encourage each other and build up one another and care for one another and comfort one another and be patient with one another and submit to one another. That's totally opposite from abusing each other. And so Satan would love for the person who is being abused to think God is doing this to me for a specific reason. There must be something in my life that God wants to correct. No, God will take advantage and He will use that if we allow Him to our advantage in our life, to grow us up and mature us, but He is never the cause. He is never the instigator of any kind of abuse whatsoever. So because He says that He knows us by name, He says the thief comes to kill and to injure. He says, but I've come that you may have life and have it more abundantly. A loving Father would never have anything to do with abuse of one of His children.
That is not the purpose to plan the will, the desire, or the method of God. Thank you for listening to part one of When We Are Abused. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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