Jean Valjean, the lead character of Les Miserables, faces a moment of crisis. He had been living under an assumed identity while hiding from his past. He had stolen a loaf of bread, and was thus permanently branded a thief in France even though he had served 19 years of hard labor. When he hears news that a man has been taken into custody believed to be him, he knows he has a chance to make a clean break. All he must do is let that man be imprisoned for his violation of parole, and he is forever more free. Yet, he cares about doing what is right. In that moment of anguish, his inner debate is captured in the song, “Who am I?”. He has to decide if personal freedom at the expense of another can be lived with. I will let you research and find his answer.
We too face that question often. Every day we face temptations and decisions. We ask ourselves, “Am I the type of person who ….”. We don’t normally break out in powerful song as we wrestle with the issue, but we do face a moment of introspection. We must check our proposed actions and attitudes with the person Christ wants us to be. It isn’t always a moral dilemma. Sometimes the options may both be fine, but we must know which choice is in keeping with our God given purpose.
If we skip over this step, we are doomed to make a series of bad decisions. We will get involved in side tracks rather than staying on mission for God. We stray into sin instead of resisting temptation.
If we hesitate too long, our indecision can cost us as well. We miss the opportunity due to timidity. Fear of getting it wrong keeps us locked in place. Making no decision is in fact a decision!
To me, the secret is in answering the question now. Who am I? What is my purpose? What defines my character and ministry for the Lord? Knowing these things help us make decisions in keeping with the core of who God wants each of us to be. Then, when those moments come, make the decision which advances us forward in the goals God has given us. Sin’s temptation weakens when viewed in light of our call from God. Decisions become easier if we look for the one which is in keeping with our purpose. Know who you are.
When I was in High School, I showed animals in FFA. One year, I had a pig named Pork Chop. Pork Chop was the best animal I showed. From day 1, it did exactly what I wanted. I would touch its ear, and it would turn. Showing Pork Chop was a dream. Then there was Bari. Bari was a steer. I was so proud when I picked him out at our auction our Ag teacher had arranged. I took Daddy to see him afterwards, and was stunned to see this massive steer trying to jump out over the top of the pen. As the months went by, I would drag him away from the pen, and he would drag me back. We pulled him behind vehicles, and spent hours trying to train him. He never would break. He never would do as I wanted. On the day of the show, it was all I could do to hold him in place and pray he didn’t escape and kill half of Ferris.
As I remembered Pork Chop and Bari this morning in my quiet time, I thought of my walk with God. Looking back on life, I know there were times I was as stubborn and bull-headed as Bari. God would pull me in a direction, and I would pull the opposite way. Other times, I have yielded to His leadership and complied without hesitation. The times I remain submissive to His will have been far better than the other times. Unlike my fiasco with Bari, God is able to break my stubborn will. Ask Jonah how well running from God turns out.
If only we would be compliant to God’s will, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble. Like Pork Chop, let us do what God wants when He wants. Let us pray with Jesus in the model prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We are surrounded by it all the time. Turn on the news, it is there. Tune the radio to a random station, and it is there. It has even gotten to where we entertain ourselves by watching it on so-called reality TV. Some seem to live for it and be a magnet to attract it. Others seem to go out of their way to avoid it. Love it or hate, you will find yourself in the midst of it eventually. To what thing am I referring? Conflict!
With so much conflict in the world, what does God’s word have to say on the matter? Proverbs 17 gives a couple of pieces of advice on this subject.
“Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends. To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:9, 14 HCSB)
The first advice I see is to conceal offenses rather than gossip about them. It doesn’t take long to find something which could damage the reputation of others. (Hint: Try Googling yourself!) Whether the tidbits of knowledge are true or not does not even seem to matter much today. If it is scandalous, it spreads like wildfire. However, wisdom invites us to keep it to ourselves. By sharing it, we destroy friendships. Whether they are our own other others, friends are looking for people to trust. By concealing the offense, we promote love. Jesus said the 2nd most important commandment is loving our neighbor as ourselves. It starts with concealing offenses instead of airing them out for all to see.
The second tip is to stop disputes before they break out. To stir the pot, while entertaining, is to release destructive flood. Lives get swept up in the drama and whirlpools of conflict drag us down. Seek to proactively stop the disputes. We need to work harder at keeping peace and resolving conflict than we do at creating it.
Maybe Jesus had Proverbs 17 in mind when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”
Let us remember to conceal offenses instead of gossiping about them and stopping disputes.
This blog has been created to record and share my reflections on godly wisdom. The key verse for this blog is Proverbs 1:20-21, “Wisdom calls out in the street; she raises her voice in the public square. She cries out above the commotion, she speaks at the entrance of the city gates:”
God isn’t silent! He gives us wisdom literature in the Scriptures to guide and direct us in life. The Creator wrote the instruction manual for life.
The invitation is clear. God desires to share His wisdom with us. It is up to us to listen and heed the call.
Hopefully this blog will assist you in understanding wisdom from above so you may better live for Him here below.
The little boy ran off the baseball field. He ignored the coach and his fellow players as he returned to the dugout. He frantically looks for someone in the stands. Then his face lights up and he yells, “Daddy, Daddy, Did I do good?” And my heart melted. I don’t recall the words I answered, but I praised his athletic prowess and display of baseball skills. Then it hit me, a Father’s praise is something all children seek. I also was struck by the question, “Do I desire God’s favor as much as my son desired mine?”
We need to put God’s opinion above all others. Really, that the only opinion which matters. Romans 8:5-9 says, “5 For those who live[e] according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live[f] according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[g] the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (HCSB)
We cannot be pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Our flesh will lead us astray. We can’t do whatever we want and then come to God asking Him to bless the mess we have created. It is when we walk by the Spirit that we will please Him. The Spirit will direct our steps and guide our hearts. He will create righteousness within us.
I’m glad that I don’t have to earn God’s pleasure. When I yield to the Spirit, He does the work! The Spirit working through me enables me to live in a manner that pleases the Father!
So when we run to the final dugout looking for our heavenly Father’s praise, we can know He will be pleased already if we have been living by the Spirit!