Friday, February 28, 2014

We Don't Get to Sort the Wheat from the Weeds

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:43-45a

Have you ever felt justified in your dislike of someone?
Have you ever felt justified in your mistreatment of someone?
It’s just you and God, so answer those questions honestly!

Most of us, when we are completely honest, have to admit we have found solid reasons for not liking or even mistreating someone. Maybe our feelings have even been directed at a whole group of people.

So, who is it for you?
Politicians? Televangelists? Teenagers? Slow drivers? Your in-laws? Your boss?

We can’t ignore the significance of how we think about other people. Over and over Scripture dismisses our seemingly justifiable reasons for disliking or mistreating others.

In Luke 9 Jesus’ disciples tried to stop a man from driving out demons because he was not one of the 12. However, Jesus responded, “Do not stop him. For whoever is not against you is for you.”

In the Church we find reasons to dislike people from different denominations, or those who have different theology. But are those people against us? If not, then Jesus says they are for us!

In fact, we may be out of line even trying to decide who is for us and who is against us. In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the weeds. A farmer’s field is inflicted with weeds sown among the wheat. The farmer’s servants offer to pull the weeds, but the farmer stops them because he fears some of the wheat will be destroyed in the process. He decides to sort the wheat from the weeds at harvest time.

We don’t get to sort the wheat from the weeds - or the sinners from the saints. God will do the sorting at the end of the story! Our job is to simply love the Lord and love people. We must make love the first thought in our minds when we look at the people in our lives!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Should I Speak or Should I Stew?

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut they seem intelligent. - Proverbs 17:28
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. - James 1:19 
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. - Proverbs 31:8-9 
"Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart-that's what defiles you." - Matthew 15:17-18
From what I know of the Bible it seems clear that keeping your mouth shut is usually the best response. I'd like to say that's the reason I don't speak up very often. However, there are other, far less noble reasons why I often don't say much, especially at times when I disagree with someone:

1. I'm not confident in my ability to clearly verbalize the thoughts in my head.
2. I dislike conflict.
3. What if I'm the only one who feels the way I do?
4. I have to filter through the thoughts in my head to find the ones that make sense, the ones that are beneficial to the conversation and the ones I can readily defend. By the time the filtering process is complete the conversation has usually switched topics.
5. I don't want to seem like a know-it-all because, let's face it, nobody enjoys being around a know-it-all.

So while my actions may appear to be in line with what the Bible prescribes, what's going on inside of me is not necessarily anything Holy. And that's why I find myself stewing over the things I wish I could have said.

Stewing, I've found, is like holding a grudge. The only person it bothers is me, and it drives me absolutely crazy! I will hold onto thoughts of what I wanted to say for days and weeks at a time. It can affect my attitude and the way I interact with people. At its worst, stewing distorts my view of reality so much that I start to assume things about myself, others and the world that are completely false.

So, what's the answer? I know speaking my mind is not usually the best choice. And I also know stewing over what I could have said is very unhealthy. Is there a third option?

How can I simply let go of the thoughts that seek to drive me crazy?
How do I remind myself, in the moment, that my opinion isn't really what matters?
How do I put other people ahead of myself, even when I completely disagree with the things they say or do?

In the end, I think, the example of Jesus is always a good place to look for answers. So, what did Jesus do?

(side note: Anybody remember the original WWJD bracelets? I wish I still had one. It feels like the time is right for those to make a comeback!)

This is the part where I just leave that last question out there and wait for the answer.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kicking Around Topics

I've felt a pull to start writing again for some time now, but until recently haven't had any topics in mind. Well, I've got a few possible topics rolling around in my head and I think soon they will become blog posts. Here are some of the possible topics:

  • Can God Show Up?
  • Does Accountability Work?
  • What's Crazy About Following Jesus?
  • Should I Speak or Stew?
  • Would I Rather Have a Home or a Bible?

As you can see, I've got lots of questionsand I intend to write in a truth-seeking tone. I'm sure I'll put some of my opinions out there, but I want to earnestly seek wisdom.

Which of these topics sounds most interesting to you?

I can't wait to get started!