In Psalm 50 God warns us of people that “recite his laws and take God’s covenant on their lips” and yet do the opposite. For as long as mankind has existed there have been con artists who will say they believe in God to curry favor with believers, even if all the evidence points to the opposite story. In today’s world we see so many politicians that seek to appeal to Christians and yet, see if this sounds familiar, “hate God’s instruction, join with thieves, throw in their lot with adulterers, use their mouth for evil, harness their tongue for deceit…”
For most of my life I viewed this passage in Proverbs purely the way it was written, through the lens of how I should deal with others. I would read this passage and think to myself, “There is so much truth in this! There are just some people who are pointless to correct. If only they were open minded to wisdom! They are the epitome of the mocker described in Proverbs! They are so closed minded!” The fundamental flaw in this view is that it automatically assumes that I am wise and have all of the correct answers. By viewing this passage simply through the lens of how to deal with others, we miss the opportunity for self-reflection that we are offered as well.
The problem with the concepts of evangelism, discipleship, and building genuine relationships, is we want them all to look like a single scene in a movie. We want the type of evangelism where someone goes from not believing in God all the way over to giving his or her life over to Christ in the midst of a 5-minute conversation where the gospel is shared. We want the scene to be set perfectly, the mood to be right, and the transformation to be obvious and complete! Then we immediately discount ourselves as not having the ability to pull that off.
My heart breaks for our world today. The hard part for me, as a Christian, is partially the chaos that exists in the world and terrible events that we see happening. However, there is something that breaks my heart even more; the way a large percentage of Christians are choosing to respond.
For the longest time these gifts scared me. I didn’t want to acknowledge the possibility that I could ever hear from God, receive physical healing, etc. What if I decided it was truly possible, put myself out there to God, and believed completely that God had given me a spiritual gift beyond things like leadership, teaching, or service…and then it didn’t happen? What if I prayed with all of my heart to hear from God…and was met by silence? What if I prayed over someone for healing…and it didn’t happen?
We might not consciously think these thoughts, but subconsciously my brain frequently falls into the following pattern: ‘God certainly played a role, blessed me with certain talents and abilities, and brought opportunities into my life; but ultimately I worked really hard, took risks, constantly sought knowledge to improve personally, etc. God obviously played a role, but I deserve some credit too.’
I don’t think it would be a breaking news story to suggest that Americans have a problem with coveting. Don’t get me wrong, everyone does. This is not a uniquely American issue. However, you would be hard pressed to find a society in the world that does more to ACTIVELY PROMOTE coveting as something that is actually to be desired. We treat coveting as something to strive for and not something to be avoided.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
This morning at 1:30 AM was one of those mornings. Stress would not be the correct word for how I felt this morning when I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Just mentally cluttered. It was hard to turn my brain off as I tossed and turned. Finally I gave in and accepted the fact that I wasn’t falling back asleep any time soon and maybe I should get up and spend time with God. So I went downstairs, grabbed a glass of water, and settled in to see what God had for me today. What truth did he want to uncover? Well, not exactly…