Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          March 24, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 8



 When I was a young kid playing with other kids in the neighborhood , we would often get into some kind of argument, and then I would walk off mumbling things under my breath. What I muttered in my complaints varied, but many of them had something to do with me telling myself that i was right and they were the ones that were wrong. Sometimes I was right, but I must admit there were occasions when the things I told myself swayed a bit in my favor.

As adults, it may at times seem slightly more complicated, but if we are honest, the things we tell ourselves are not always true or healthy. Have you caught yourself saying any of the following things?:

“I’m not as bad as some other people.” When we say things like this, do we really think this makes our sins OK? Will God overlook some of our “little sins” as long as we don’t commit the “really big sins”? Was Jesus nailed to the cross for only those “wicked people” (Isa. 53:5-6)? Let us stop comparing ourselves to others and seek true repentance. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Cor. 10:12).

“People should quit judging me.” This may be true sometimes, but when we say this to ourselves is it possible that we are just trying to justify why we don’t need to change? Is it just our stubbornness kicking in? If we think they don’t have the right to tell us we’re wrong, then does that allow us to stay wrong? When we say they are wrong for “judging” us, aren’t we doing the same thing? Think about that one. Is it possible that the person “judging us” is really only trying to help? In that case wouldn’t we be wiser to listen rather rather than getting all on the defensive? “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” (Prov. 13:18).

“That’s just the way I am.” When we say this, we make it sound like we can’t help it. If we can’t help it, then it must not be our fault, right? Wrong! God gives us the power of choice. We do not have to so something just because we have a strong urge, or because it’s hard to resist. That’s why it’s called “temptation”, people. If sin did not look appealing, we would not feel the need to do it. But we can resist with God’s  help. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

“But I still do a lot of good things.” Do we really think that our good deeds make up for our bad ones? Do we not realize there will be many “good deed doers” in Hell because they have not submitted themselves to God? “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Mat. 7:22-23)

“At least I’m not hurting anybody.” When we say this, we are downplaying the damage of sin. Are we forgetting that sin grieves God? (Heb. 3:10-13; Eph. 4:30). Does He not count? In reality, our sins do affect others. They may be influenced to follow in our steps. Statements like these are just another one of our feeble attempts at trying to justify ourselves. “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth our hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:12)

We make these statements because we think too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). Let us not exalt ourselves, but humble ourselves before God in true repentance.

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:6-9)

---Andy Mitchell

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"Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?'  Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.'  'This is  the first and great commandment.' 'And the second is like it:' 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  'On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.'" (Matt. 22:35-40).

We Are Free To Choose Our Thoughts, But We Are Not Free To Choose The Consequences Of Those Thoughts:

For example, suppose that in a certain situation we're faced with the choice of whether to think generous thoughts or selfish thoughts. We're free to go either way, but having chosen, we need not think that we can get the results that would have come from the other choice. Ideas have always had consequences, sooner or later, and we need to see the importance of governing our thinking so as to get the consequences we desire...and avoid all the others.

In today's text, Jesus said that the most important commandment is to love God and the second most important, to love our neighbor. At the very least, this teaching gives us the key to constructive thinking. If we make the love of God and our neighbor the primary points around which our minds revolve, good results must surely follow. If, as the Scriptures teach, we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7,8), there is no better sowing than to focus our love on these two objects. When we do this, the law of cause and effect will work to our benefit rather than our detriment.

But look at the price we pay when we don't have our hearts focused rightly: (1) Our energy is dissipated. (2) Our love is distracted. (3) Our joy is diluted. When we fritter ourselves away in the pursuit of worldly values, we set in motion a train of very undesirable consequences. By letting our minds take the course of least resistance, we forfeit the very best that life has to offer.

There is an important sense in which we are held captive by the thoughts we choose to think. To be liberated from enslavement to sinful thoughts, then, we must let ourselves be captivated by higher values: the love of God and His creatures. For us, freedom does not mean having no master; it means having a wise and loving Master.  To bind ourselves to Him -- with committed love -- is to be set free from the consequences of every lesser love. 

---Gary Henry

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