Victim mentality may look like constantly blaming others, believing everyone is out to get you, or thinking that bad things always happen to you. In this message, we walk through John 5 and learn three ways to change “victim mentality” to "victor mentality" through a relationship with the King of victory.
Let's go! Porch 2022. We're kicking off our new series, R.I.P. to the Old Me. If we haven't met, my name is JD. It's a privilege to be here with you tonight. Before we go any farther, if you don't know, The Porch doesn't just exist in Dallas. God has blown our expectations and taken this thing beyond borders, and we have what we call Porch.Live locations all over the country in different locations.
We want to do a good job tonight. They hear us. They hear you in the room. When you laugh, they laugh. When you clap, they clap. When you cry, they probably cry. So, tonight, I need you guys to help me welcome them to kick off the year strong. I'm going to read the whole list, and then I want us to go crazy for our friends all over the country. Here we go.
Welcome, 2022, Porch.Live North Houston; Porch.Live Austin; Northwest Arkansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Porch.Live Cincinnati; Scottsdale; Boise, Idaho; Des Moines; Greater Lafayette, Indiana; and a big welcome to our newest Porch.Live location, meeting for the second time tonight, Porch.Live Midland, Texas. And, of course, my friends tonight in Dallas, it's such an honor, like I said, to be here with you.
Before we go into the series and the topic we're talking about tonight… When I was prepping for the kickoff to R.I.P. to the Old Me…I'm not going to lie…I got a little sentimental, because as I was thinking about the old JD, since we met the last time in 2021… The JD you see before you is a completely new man. I don't know if y'all noticed, but I have some bling on my finger. The token singleness guy of The Porch is dead and gone. He is. I happily left him in 2021, and I got to marry the woman of my dreams, Miss Jennah Rodgers.
It has been such a gift, but I'm not going to lie. Like we say all the time…it's not just lip service…singleness is awesome. Yesterday, we celebrated our one month of marriage, and I'm still mourning a little bit of who I was. I'm not going to lie. Last week, we did the candle thing. We brought up the things we wanted to die to. I wanted to officially say "R.I.P." to the old JD. So, if you would, take a moment with me in memory.
Rest in peace to normal guy house smells (take that as you want), and hello to walking in every day to five different scented candles burning at one time, sending my sense of smell into all kinds of confusion and different directions. Guys, get ready. Rest in peace to my one favorite pillow that I washed two times in six years, and hello to lots and lots and lots and lots of pillows on the couch, pillows on the seats, pillows on the bed, pillows everywhere.
Rest in peace to…oh, this one hits…my house being set to 64 degrees, paired with a ceiling fan and a side table fan on turbo speed (because my wife is always freezing…always), and hello to a daily trip to the sauna I didn't know I needed. It's really good for the toxins. It's hot. I start there because I really am kind of navigating this new me, and it's amazing. Marriage truly is amazing, but I'm figuring out what it looks like to die to my old self and enter into this new relationship with Jennah, which is definitely better.
I want y'all to hear me say I am loving marriage, but I start there because, just like I am transforming as I've entered into this relationship and a new life is changing in me, a lot of us, when we get into relationship with Jesus… What we have to know is that when you enter into relationship with Jesus, everything about you should and will begin to change. You introduce me to a person who has encountered and surrendered their life to Jesus, and you are showing me a changed person.
When you step into relationship with Christ, the old, like we've been saying, passes away, or you die to your old self, and the new you is born. The theme verse of this series is 2 Corinthians 5:17. It's what the series was birthed out of. It says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Meaning, the invitation is for everyone.
Everyone gets to come to God's family, and you get to come exactly as you are. No matter what your past, present, or your future will hold, you get to come exactly as you are, but hear me: you come as you are, but you do not stay as you are. You get to come as you are, but you do not stay as you are, because the old you has passed away and the new you is coming. It's forming, it's changing, and it's better.
If you know what I'm talking about, you know that when you go into this new relationship with Jesus, everything about you begins to change. You begin to talk differently. You begin to act differently, hang out differently, dress differently, date differently. You get to spend your time and your money differently. You have community and the right people speaking into your life, holding you accountable.
You begin to no longer want to look at porn or just have casual hookups or get drunk every weekend. You actually have the Holy Spirit in you, and he starts to convict you, and those things aren't as appealing or appetizing. Yeah, you might still do it and continue to do it, but it's not hitting like it used to. Why? Because you're new. Because if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old has passed away, and the new has come.
Those who are in a relationship with Jesus will begin to change. We're going to see throughout this entire series what it looks like to change. We're going to focus on different things that we need to say "R.I.P." to. "Rest in peace to [blank] because I'm new in Jesus. I have a new life with Jesus. Goodbye to the old me; hello to the new me in Christ."
Tonight, the old trait we're dying to is victim mentality. For my note-takers tonight, the title of this message is R.I.P. to Victim Mentality. If you don't know what I'm talking about, a quick, easy definition of victim mentality is when someone believes the idea that bad things will always happen to them. Or you could include onto that a person with a victim mentality is constantly blaming others, constantly negative, constantly has a "Woe is me" mentality. It's never their own fault.
"I'll always be depressed." "Well, I grew up poor" or "Because this happened to me." "I'm never going to forgive my dad, because he wronged me. It's his fault I'm this way." "Everyone is out to get me." "All I know is broken relationships. This is just the way it is." If you let victim mentality rule your life, it will paralyze you, as we'll see tonight. Victim mentality will paralyze your life. It will keep you back, but a relationship with Jesus is meant to set you free.
Some of you tonight might be thinking, "Well, that's not me. I've never had something crazy happen to me." We all struggle with a victim mentality, whether you realize it or not. In some way, because we have an Enemy, because Satan is out there prowling like a lion, seeking someone to devour… One of his biggest schemes is to convince you that you are a victim, that you don't have what it takes, that the Holy Spirit isn't enough, that you can't defeat that sin, that you can't make that change, that you can't make that move. That's how he attacks: treating you like a victim.
So, tonight, we're saying, "No more." We're leaving victim mentality in the past. I want to take a moment just to lean in, because I know there is an audience and a specific person in the room tonight, and you are a victim. You actually have been victimized. I want you to hear me, as kindly as I can say this. I am sorry for whatever happened to you, and that person was wrong. Whatever they did to you was wrong.
I hate that because of the brokenness of this world and the depravity of man and the sin that is in man's heart we hurt one another. Yeah, you might be walking in here having been victimized, but Jesus can rewrite your story. Yes, you were a victim, but you are not a victim. You are a victor if you are in Christ.
I want to even challenge you tonight to begin to not let Satan tell you that what happened to you is who you are. I want to begin to challenge you to think, "Hey, maybe I'm not a victim, but more so, because of Jesus, I'm a survivor. I've prevailed. Because of Jesus, I don't have to just survive and get by, but I can thrive. I can forgive. I can be healed." You're going to see tonight that no matter what has happened to you, you can be new. You can be healed.
So, whether you face victim mentality, whether you have been a victim, what we're going to see tonight is Jesus wants to heal that. Tonight, we're going to look at three ways to change your victim mentality to a victor mentality. We're going to do it by zeroing in on the life of a man Jesus encountered, a paralyzed man, and we're going to look at how Jesus took his victim mentality and made him a victor. So, open up with me to John, chapter 5. We're going to read the whole thing, and then we're going to break it down.
"Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate…" Don't think too deeply about that. Literally, a gate that sheep entered. "…was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, 'Would you like to get well?' 'I can't, sir,' the sick man said, 'for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up.'"
What you need to know is, at the time, there was a Greek myth that they believed… We know now it was a natural spring that made the water bubble, but they believed an angel would come down that they couldn't see, and he would stir the water, and the myth said if you were the first one to get in, you would be healed. So, all of these sick people would gather around this pool and wait for the bubbles to come up. That's what he's talking about right here.
"'…I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.' Jesus told him, 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!' Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!" I want to go ahead and look at the first verse and just set the scene of how relevant this story is to you and me tonight. I mean, it's crazy.
I'm reading this translation, and I'm looking, and he's literally talking about how in the gates of Jerusalem, there was this section where all of the sick people, the shamed people, the diseased people, those who were paralyzed, blind, deaf… If you had something wrong with you, this is where you hung out, and they all hung out together in a place called the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda is a Hebrew construct that basically means a house of mercy or a house of kindness, a house of acceptance and love, where all of the sick people gathered on the porches.
Are y'all seeing it? I'm like, "That's us." The Porch isn't anything special, but Jesus is, and we're all about Jesus; therefore, we are wanting to be a house of kindness, a house of mercy, a house of love and acceptance for any person, no matter their sickness, no matter their disease. No matter what they're walking in with, they know they can be safe here, because look around. We're all sick.
We're all in desperate need of Jesus, and we come here because we want him to heal us. We come here because we want him to save us, to redeem us. We come here because we want his mercy and his kindness. You and I…we are the sick. This is the pool of Bethesda. So, this story… No matter what you've gone through, no matter if you're like, "Man, I'm not a victim…" You're sick. This story is for you tonight. Let's continue on.
What we're going to see here is the first way we go from a victim mentality to a victor mentality is in verse 3. "Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed [you and I] —lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years." Sick and paralyzed for 38 years. Can you imagine? I know he struggled with a victim mentality. I know I would be.
Right here when I look at this… A victim mentality says, "This is just the way it is." Thirty-eight years! I'm accepting it. I'm like, "I'm paralyzed for the rest of my life. This is just the way it is. God, I don't know why me, I don't know why not them, but after 38 years, I can't get in the dang pool. Everyone has gotten to go before me. No one is for me. I guess this is just the way it is." I know I've been there. I think a lot of us have been there, and a lot of it is on us.
We self-victimize, and we say things like, "Well, I guess I'm just going to have to live with this addiction. I guess I'm just going to have to live and accept this porn addiction, because it has been since eighth grade. For years I've struggled with this. I've gone to services like this, and I came down last week and wrote 'Porn' on my card. I wrote 'Sexual immorality' on my card, and I laid it, and the next day I was tempted and gave in. I gave in again and again and again. I guess I'm just going to have to be paralyzed and crippled by my addiction. I guess this is just the way it is."
Some of us are like, "Man! Where are all of the Christian men? Every guy I date ends up being not it. He has no character. He ain't about it." We sit there and go, "You know what? My dad wasn't even about it, so maybe this is what I deserve. Maybe this is who I am. Maybe I should just settle and lower my standards and just accept I'm never going to find a Christian man and be unhappily married for the rest of my life. I guess this is just the way it is."
Some of us are like, "I guess I'll just keep letting the need for control and the perfect image rule my life. I know on the outside I look good, but on the inside, I'm spiraling, and there's this hamster wheel constantly spinning that's forcing anxiety and stress and worry, and I'm spiraling and spiraling and spiraling. I'm trying to hold it all together, but I can't, and I'm breaking, but I guess this is just the way it is. I guess stress is just a part of my life. I guess worry is just a part of my life." You've just accepted it because you've fallen prey to victim mentality.
A victim mentality says, "This is just the way it is." Thirty-eight years of being paralyzed, lost hope, hopeless, accepted. "I guess I'm just paralyzed. This is the way it is. This is my lot." But also, there is another group. What has happened to you wasn't self-inflicted. You went through something really hard that was completely out of your control. There are some of you here tonight… Maybe you were born with an actual disability. Maybe you were born with an autoimmune system that constantly leaves you tired and fatigued and disappointed.
Maybe some of you have lost a loved one, and your circumstance is really, really hard. You lost your mom to cancer way too soon. Some of you have been cheated on or your parents did divorce or you saw bad relationships or you were abused and hurt. The problem is what victim mentality will do is it will take that thing that is meant to describe your story and tell you it defines you. It's meant to describe you, but victim mentality makes it define you.
It says, "Yeah, this is the way it is. This is who you are. You are what happened to you. You will not change. You should just accept." These moments that were meant to simply describe you… "I lost my mom to cancer. Someone manipulated me. I was born with a disability. That's a part of my story, not the point of my story. It doesn't define me." But a victim mentality will tell you that is what defines you, that is who you are, and that's who you will always be, but we know Jesus is who defines us.
I know, for me, there was a time in my life where I fell prey to this kind of victim mentality. A thing that described me, as I've talked about here many times… College…Boom! Best friend, dad at 45, pastor, friend…all of the things. Terminal cancer. Boom! Ten years later, life without a dad.
"Why, God? Why would you do this? Are you out to get me? Is the world against me? He was a good man. He was a preacher, for crying out loud! Why him? So young. So healthy. I bet if I had a dad, I wouldn't be in such a financial struggle right now in college. I bet if I had a dad, I wouldn't have to seek affirmation in all of the wrong places, because my dad would affirm me. My dad would compliment me like he used to. I bet if I had a dad, then…"
So many of us walk in life like that. "If I had this, then…" "If it wasn't this way, then…" Because we took what was meant to describe us, and we're saying it defines us. The outcome is victimization. But everything changed in my life…everything…when I learned the truth in this verse right here. Later on in this book of John, in chapter 16, verse 33, it says, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I [God] have overcome the world."
When I was walking in a victim mentality, I was stuck on the "On earth you will have many trials and sorrows," but then God came into my life, and he rewrote my perspective. He rewrote my story, and the "But take heart" transitioned me from a victim to a victor, because I saw it wasn't up to me to overcome my circumstance; it was up to God. He tells me, he promises me that I don't have to follow my circumstance or fall victim to my circumstance. I can have victory over my circumstance because he does. It's him who defines me.
In that moment, the thing that held me down, that brought me the most pain, God used to transform, and it is now the force behind my greatest purpose. What once victimized me and told me, "You can never because…" is now what I get to stand up and tell thousands of people about. If you had told that guy who was lying alone on New Year's Eve, shouting at God, drunk in his room at midnight, "God, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…"
If you would have told me that one day that victim mentality was going to change to this, I would have called you crazy, but that's what God does. He takes what describes you, and he points it to himself and transforms it, and he uses it to point to his glory, to his goodness. That's what he does. A victim mentality says, "This is just the way it is," but a victor mentality says, "This may be the way it is, this may be a part of your story, but Jesus can use it."
Jesus wants to use it. Jesus wants to use your greatest pain for his glory and purpose if you would let him, but you have to take heart. You have to make the active choice to go from victim to victor. But take heart; he has overcome the world, and he has overcome your circumstance. Everything changed when I began to shift my victim mentality from victim because of my circumstances to victor because of the King over my circumstances. He did it for me. He can do it for you. He did it for this man. Let's keep reading.
Verse 6: "When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time…" I don't want to move past that. This is the heart of your Jesus. There was a whole crowd in that place, many people sick, many people struggling. This man was nothing special to get the attention and catch the eye of Jesus, but Jesus saw him.
Even when he wasn't looking for Jesus, Jesus was looking for him. The same is for you tonight. All of these people… This is a big place, but he's looking at you. He sees you. Just like this man, he knows you've been ill for a long time. He knows you're tired. He knows that victim mentality has ruled your life, and he wants peace to mark your life.
He looks at him, knowing he was ill for a long time. "…he asked him, 'Would you like to get well?' 'I can't, sir,' the sick man said, 'for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.'" Do you see what's happening here? His victim mentality is saying what it says to us. "Hey, I'm not the problem. Everyone and everything else is."
You all know that kind of person. "It's never me; it's always them." That person, your roommate, that you come home from work, and they're always like, "Then my boss did this, and then my boss did this, and then they did this, and then they did that, and then my coworker… If they would just show up on time…" It's never them. It's exhausting.
What's funny about this moment is Jesus didn't want his whole life story. I mean, Jesus is kind, so he was kinder than me. I would have been like, "I didn't ask you about this, the pool and all that." Jesus asked him a simple yes or no question. "Boy, you've been paralyzed for 38 years. Do you want to be healed or not?" That's what he asked him. "Do you want to be healed?" Like him, I think a lot of us… "But, God, this. But, God, that. But, God, this." "Yes or no?"
It's like if you hadn't drank water for a whole day, and you're just parched. I mean, I'm parched right now, low key. Actually, throw me a water. This is perfect, actually. It's like if you hadn't drank, and you are just parched, and someone is like, "Do you want a drink?" and you're like, "Well, it depends. Is it Ozarka, because I only drink Fiji?" Or "I only drink Essentia." I'd be like, "Then you don't get any of my water, you ungrateful…" No. You take it. Ah! Instantly refreshed, because I was so dang thirsty. "Yes or no?"
After 38 years, Jesus asked him, "Do you want to be healed?" and instead of giving him an answer, like us, he gave him an excuse. A victim mentality is the birthplace of excuses. If you are constantly making excuses, trace it and see if it's being birthed out of a victim mentality. See if you are falling prey to victimization. Here's the excuse I hear in this man's response to Jesus: "Jesus, I can't because [yada, yada, yada]."
"I can't, Jesus, because, first…I don't know if you know…I've been here a long time. Second, every time the water bubbles up, no one is going to pick me up and put me inside." Well, guess what? Everyone else is sick too. They're not worried about you. They're trying to get in. "No one will pick me up, and every time they do, a person beats me in. I'm like, 'Dang it! I guess I'll have to wait till next time.' So then I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm waiting. I'm so tired of waiting." Instead of giving him an answer, he gives him an excuse.
God is calling some of us tonight… He's asking you, "Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be free? Do you want to be changed?" God is asking you to step out in radical faith or to give up something or to surrender something or to make a change, make that move, or to break up with that person or to join that church, and your response is, "Jesus, I can't, because I'm too busy. Jesus, I can't, because if I break up with him, then who am I going to have? Jesus, I can't make that move. I don't know anyone there."
Instead of saying "Yes," he gives an excuse. We give an excuse. What's so funny about this excuse is it's actually correct when you think about it. "Hey, do you want to be healed?" What does he say? "I can't." Bingo! You got one thing right. You can't. You and I cannot heal ourselves. We're not capable. We need Jesus.
A victim mentality will tell you "I can't," but a victor mentality says, "But he can." He can break every chain. He can provide peace in the midst of hard circumstances. He can rewrite that really hard thing that happened to you. He can. You can't, but he can. Apart from him, you're right…you can't.
John 15:5 actually proves this when Jesus says, "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." You can't. But then Matthew 19:26 says, "Jesus looked at them intently and said, 'Humanly speaking [left to yourself], it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.'" Left to yourself, you can do nothing, but with God anything is possible.
Your response to God says a lot about your view of him. How you respond to him says a lot about how you view him. When he calls you out, when he calls you up, when he calls you to be healed and made new, how you respond says a lot about how you view him. If you're afraid he's going to abandon you, you'll show that in your response. If you're afraid he's going to hurt you or bait and switch or not be good like he promises, you'll show that in your response. Your response to God says a lot about how you view him.
Can you imagine? This man clearly didn't know who he was talking to. You can see it in his response. He had a wrong view of Jesus. When Jesus asks you, like he's asking some of you tonight, "Do you want to be healed?" your answer every time should be, "Yes, because I can't. I've tried everything. I thought the pool, I thought the people, I thought someone picking me up, I thought all of these different things were the solution to my problem, but I can't. I've run out of options."
You've searched at the end of a bottle. You've searched in a relationship. You've searched in success and self-help books, and you can't seem to figure out the solution to your problem. It's because it's standing right in front of you. It only comes from one source, and his name is Jesus. His name is Jesus Christ, and he's asking you tonight, "Do you want to be healed?" Instead of giving him the answer, "Yes, I'm in," you're bringing him excuses. You don't actually want it.
I think you want to complain. I think you want to talk about it, but you don't want to be about it, because I'm looking at your response to him. Your response to him, when he actually calls you to do something, doesn't match what you say. Why? Because we want to be healed, but we don't want to change. We want God to bless us, but we don't want to change. We want God to restore us, but we don't want to make moves.
So many of us claim to want to be healed, but we don't want to change. That looks like this: "God, I'm so tired of being in debt." God: "Okay. Stop spending. Start saving. Stop going out to eat. Oh, and give generously, and trust me with that, and don't even look at those Golden Goose, girls." "But, God, I want to be out of debt." Keep spending. Keep going out. Keep getting that other drink.
"God, would you bring me a spouse? I am sick and tired of being single." "Okay. You want a godly man? Start being a godly person. Start changing. Start changing who you are. Get up. Get with me." "God, I'm so misunderstood." Have y'all heard that one? I know I say that one. "No one gets me. It's exhausting." "Okay. Well, tell them that. Trust people and let them in." "You want me to…what?"
"God, I hate my job. Give me a promotion. Bless me. Bring me prosperity and riches." "Okay. Well, you can start by at least showing up on time, and fix your hair." "God, do something through me like you are clearly doing through them." "All right. Well, how about you start just being with me? Read your Bible and pray every day. Before I do a work through you, I want to be with you, but you have to make some changes."
So many of us complain. "I want to be healed." You come to The Porch time and time again. "I want to see change. I'm so exhausted. I'm so tired." Yet you walk out of here the same. I want to be clear about something. You don't change to earn your salvation. There is always a seat at the table of God, and he is constantly inviting every single person here tonight to come and enjoy the feast with the family of God, but he is not going to pick you up and put you on your chair.
He wants you to pull up the chair and sit down and feast. Why? Because that's real love. Anything else would be forced on you. It would be a robot. It wouldn't be a relationship. You have to get up, pull up a chair, and sit and dine with the family of God. But so many of us, like this man… "Yeah, I want to be healed." It shows me… If he's by the pool that's supposed to heal people, if he's wanting people to pick him up and put him in every time it bubbles…
He's saying he wants to be healed, but why is he still there after 38 years? I mean, come on. Surely he could scoot or something. He doesn't want to be healed. So many of us claim to want to be healed, but if you want to be healed, you have to be willing to change. Changing requires rearranging, getting up, making moves, getting in the Word, getting in prayer, getting with community. You have to change the things in your life. The old you has to pass away. The new life in Christ has to be evident, has to come.
A victim mentality will tell you everyone else and everything else is the problem but you, but a victor mentality says, "Because Jesus is the solution to my problem, I can face whatever lies ahead." The best part of this story is that, thankfully, Jesus does not need this man to view him or respond to him rightly for Jesus to respond to him. Jesus' response to him is not dictated on his response to Jesus, because he says, "I can't. [Yada, yada, yada.]"
Jesus could have been like, "You know what? I'm out on this." No. What does he do? What does he say? Jesus told him in verse 8, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!" Instantly, the man was healed. He rolled up his sleeping mat, and he began walking. Your victim mentality will say to you, "God can use anyone but me," but I see right here that's not true. If God can pick this random man who had been paralyzed and in a victim mentality state for 38 years, what makes you think he can't use you?
He's calling this man to stand up, pick up his mat, and go, and to be free. He's calling you to do the same tonight, but victim mentality is telling you that God could do that with anyone else but you. "JD, if you knew what I'd done…" Hey, if you knew what I had done, you wouldn't have put me here, but God changed my life. He placed me here. He picked me up. He told me to stand up, pick up my mat, and go.
Some of you… God calls you out, and you're like, "Yeah." He's like, "Do you want to be healed?" and you say all of these things. You're like, "Yeah, I want to be healed," but he calls you to stand up, and you're like, "Wait. What? No, no, no. God, you can use anyone, but not me. I'm actually kind of comfortable here."
I want you to notice something. Jesus said, "Stand up, pick up your mat…" Why would Jesus tell him to pick up his mat? People who were paralyzed had these mats that this is referring to. He had no more use for it. He didn't need a mat, so why, after 38 years of being paralyzed… You would think Jesus would say, "Hey, yeah, forget about that. Leave it behind." Why did he tell him to pick up his mat and walk?
Well, later in this story, you're going to see, if you keep on reading (I would encourage you all to go read it later), there's this moment where this man is walking, and he's carrying his mat. You know, he's spinning himself. He's free now. His leg has all this super strength. I can't imagine what it's like to be healed by Jesus like that. So, he's walking, and these religious leaders, known as the Pharisees… They come forth, and like a Pharisee, like you read time and time again… Boy, they get on my nerves.
This guy was 38 years paralyzed, and now he's walking, and they're not like, "Whoa! My guy, you're walking!" What do they say? If you read it, they just say, "Hey, why are you carrying your mat on the Sabbath?" The Sabbath of this time was a religious day of the week where, in Jewish culture, you could not work. You could not lift anything, clearly, in the name of praising God. The Pharisees made it about religion and not relationship. The Sabbath was intended to be more intimate with God, but they made it about works, about religion.
So, they condemn this guy, and they shame this guy. They say, "Why are you carrying your mat on the Sabbath?" In that moment, if this man was living in a victim mentality, going, "You're right. God can't use me. You're right. I'll just go back. I'll go back to my old paralyzed self. You're right. This is more comfortable anyway. This is who I've always been. You're right…" I'm like, "Well, what do you want me to do?"
Listen. Victim mentality would have brought him back to the mat and said, "You're right. Let me drop it." But Jesus said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk," so that's what he did. Why? Because his life had been changed by Jesus. He looked at the Pharisees, and his response was not shame. His response was not guilt or hiding.
He said, "The man named Jesus, who healed me, told me to do this, so I did. And I don't really care what you have to say. You might want to victimize me. You might want to remind me of who I am, but guess what: I don't really care, because the man who healed me changed my life, and he told me to pick up my mat and walk."
The mat was once a reminder of his paralysis, but now this mat is a reminder of God's goodness, of God's transformation in his life. He carries his mat to point people to his Savior. Jesus is asking you tonight to stand up, be healed, quit living in a victim mentality, and to pick up your mat. I don't know what your mat is, but he's saying, "Stand up. Pick up that addiction you once were a slave to, and go help other people be set free like you have. Stand up. Pick up that abuse and go help other abuse victims."
Pick up your mat, so when people walk by and go, "Hey, why are you carrying that? Why are you talking about your sin that way? Why are you talking about these hard things you've been through? Why are you so free? Why are you so joyful?" you say, "Hey, hey. This mat is simply to start this conversation so I can tell you the reason I can pick up this mat is not to say, 'Look at the mat' but 'Look at my Savior.' Look at my healer. Look at my provider. He changed everything."
"I once was a lame man. I was lying here for 38 years. I thought that was my life. I was a victim to paralysis, but because of Jesus, I am victor. I have victory because Jesus, the ultimate victory, healed my life. He changed my life." He did it for him; he can do it for you. A victim mentality says, "God can use anyone but me," but a victor mentality says, "God can use anyone, even me." Aka, won't he do it? He will.
He's calling you tonight to rise up, take up your mat, and walk. He wants to heal you, and he's asking you, "Do you want to be healed?" You have an opportunity tonight to respond or you can make an excuse. You can fall prey to victim mentality or you can say, "Yes." That's all it takes…trust, surrender…if you say "Yes," if you're willing to go, "Yes, I'll listen," and when Jesus says, "Hey, stand up, take up your mat, and walk," be changed.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." If you will stand up and pick up your mat and walk, watch what he'll do. Watch what he'll do with that step of going, "I don't want to be a victim anymore. I don't want to be a slave to my past. I don't want to be prey to my circumstances. I want to live in the freedom that the victory of the blood of Jesus offers." He's saying, "Good. Then stand up, pick up your mat, and walk."
So, before I ask you to do that, I want to pick up my mat. I want to show you and tell you about a part of my story that held me down for so long. It was fifth grade going into sixth grade. I was at a church event, and we were playing some game. It was late at night, and I was sexually abused by a guy in high school. After the encounter, I was nervous, and I pulled away, and it was weird. He said, "Hey, do not tell anyone. They'll think you're weird. They'll think you're gay. They will shame you. They'll think you're disgusting. Your parents will be so mad at you. Do not tell anyone."
Right after that, do you know what happened? I was significantly bullied for liking clothes in a country town, for liking to sing, for liking to dance. I was told, "Hey, you're gay. You're all these different things." Then after that, I was introduced to masturbation and pornography by a guy my age. Boom. Boom. Boom. And I hid it. Being a pastor's kid in a small town, I didn't believe that I was able to get up and take up my mat. If anyone knew… "What would my dad say? What would my mom say? What would people say? Everything will be ruined. I will never come back from this."
That's what victim mentality told me. "God can use anyone but me." Until one day, my freshman year of college… I had been in spaces like this all my life, but for whatever reason, on that day, out of a crowd like this, Jesus chose me, and he said, "Hey, do you want to be healed? Do you want to rise up and take up that mat of abuse and help people be set free?" I was afraid, but I said, "Yes." I stood up, and I picked up that mat, and I began to tell one, and then two, and then groups. And guess what? Guess how many people said, "Me too. Me too. Me too."
The thing that defined me for so long… It went from defining me to simply describing me. It was no longer the point to my life but just simply a part of my life that God used and is using to not only heal me but to heal others, because he is where ultimate victory is found. The day I said yes to him, everything changed. He did it for me. He can do it for you. He did it for this man, and he wants to do it for you.
He's asking you tonight, "Do you want to be healed?" and your response is to say, "Yes." He'll say to you then, "Rise up. Pick up your mat, no longer a victim but a victor because of what I have done on the cross. Because I have claimed victory over your sin and the abuse and the porn and the hookups and the drugs and the pride… Because I have claimed victory over that by defeating sin and rising from the grave, you don't have to be a victim." R.I.P. to victim mentality, and say, "Yes" to victory in Jesus, and only Jesus. If you want to be healed tonight, rise up, take up your mat, and follow him. Let's pray.
Thank you, Jesus, for rewriting stories, for taking messy pasts and awful stories and circumstances and sins and secrets and covering them with your blood so that we can be new. For the person tonight, like I was, who believed for so long "This is just the way it is. This is who I am, and no one can ever know, and because of this, God can use them, but he can't use me…"
For the person who is believing that lie, fed from victim mentality, would you break it tonight in Jesus' name? Would the cross of Jesus Christ, would the empty tomb rewrite their story? Would tonight be the night that they say "Yes," and would they rise up, take up that mat, and make that courageous step to follow you?
Would you give them the strength? Would they know right now that out of this crowd you see them, and you're asking them, "Do you want to be healed?" and would you give them the strength to say, "Yes. Not because I can, but because he can." Because of you, Jesus, you make all things new. May we worship and live like that's so. It's in your name I pray, amen.