Contrary to the old saying, "You can't beat a dead horse," I believe it is possible to beat a dead horse, but it does not do any good. A little research has revealed the origins of this statement date back to the 1800's when riders would flog/beat the horse's thigh to make him run faster. Sometimes this technique was effective, sometimes not. When the treatment of the animals was brought into question, the idea of beating a dead horse entered the conversation. Of course, beating a dead horse to make him run faster would be senseless.
We do, sometimes, beat a dead horse. We bring up old, previously-settled arguments. We continue in relationships that are not healthy. We remain in jobs or careers that have proven futile. We dwell on things that happened in the past, wishing the situation could have been different. We can, and we do beat dead horses. And as was realized years ago, it's senseless, sometimes laughable.
How do we know we are beating a dead horse in relationships? It's not always easy to know, but the following may be of assistance. The Bible says in Matthew 18:21-22 that we should forgive our brother not seven times, but seventy-seven (NIV). Other translations, such as KJV and NLT indicate seven times seventy. Sure we can do the math, but I think the meaning here is figurative. We should not keep a count of the number of times we forgive someone. So, what if the other person takes advantage of our kindness, our forgiveness?
~Luke 17:3 ESV
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
~Matthew 12:36 ESV
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.
~1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
How do we know it's time to change jobs or careers? "I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13) Does your work make you happy? Does it bring you satisfaction? The voice of the Holy Spirit may tell us that it is time for a change. How do we listen for the voce of the Holy Spirit? Be quiet. Be prepared. Be aware. Be open. Be ready. Be patient.
Several years ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I read, One Month to Live, by Kerry and Chris Shook. I was in a situation that really needed to change. I knew it needed to change, but I was afraid. These verses helped me to realize that fear was causing me to beat a dead horse. It was depressing, destroying me spiritually, and at times gave me thoughts that became bad words... The book presents John 15:1-2. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Thank you for reading. Maybe you are beating a dead horse and have just realized it. Maybe your branches need to be pruned. It's impossible to know the situations of all of my readers, but this message, was given to me to share with you today.
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If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.