Monday, October 18, 2010

Without Grumbling

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-15 ESV)

I have friends who parent with a gentle and quiet spirit. I've met mothers of my friends who have that calmness about them. But I must confess, that has not been me.

I must allow the Holy Spirit to take over me because my old nature likes to rear its ugly self. That person in me before Christ shouted and barked at her husband and children. If shoes were left out, I sounded like, "Why can't you ever put away your shoes? Do I have to trip over them and break my neck before you'll do it?"

I grumbled and complained about every little thing. I was the kind of wife that Solomon described that it was better to live on the corner of the roof than inside with a nagging wife. He not only said it once, but twice in the Proverbs.

"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife" (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24 NIV).

With all the wives and concubines Solomon had, I wonder how many nights he slept on the roof top? But what does that have to do with me?

I MUST choose by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me not to nag my family about what they don't do. And it is effort for me, but I find is worth it.

There are ways to get my point across without grumbling or questioning (and may I add slamming doors to get attention). I stumbled onto this one night at the dinner table.

My youngest son, Chase, asked when we were getting close to being done with dinner, "Mom, do I have to do the dishes tonight?"

"No, son you don’t," spoken in a normal tone of voice.

Surprised by my calm remark, Chase raised his voice, "What? You're not going to tell me I have to?"

"No, you don’t have to."

The conversation went onto something else for a little while, then we started clearing the table. But he caught on rather quickly and asked, "But if I don't, then you won't let me play video games later will you?"

I replied, "That sounds like a good plan."

Chase commenced to rinsing off the dishes and putting them into the dishwasher.

Wow! Being calm is effective. It works! Now I know it works and by the grace of God I'm making it my habit to instruct my children and talk to my husband without grumbling.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Better Remain Silent

But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, "Do not answer him." ~~ Isaiah 36:21, ESV

Have you ever wanted to give someone your piece of mind?

Oh, I shall confess. Absolutely! I've experienced times I wanted to share my point of view regardless if the other person would get it or not. I just wanted my voice to be heard.

Well sometimes God tells us it is better to remain silent. In Isaiah 36-37, the King of Assyria through his field commander taunts King Hezekiah and the people of Judah. He says things like (my paraphrase):

  • What is your strategy?
  • Are you really depending on the Lord God?
  • Listen to me and I'll make you a deal.
  • Can King Hezekiah and the Lord really save you?

If someone mouths off to me, I must restrain myself from saying what comes to my mind. I remember my oldest son used to come home distraught because someone made fun of me. He wanted to defend me. It hurts when someone talks mean about our mother, no matter how old we become.

Years ago, I worked in an office full of men who didn't particularly care for my husband. I listened to them talk badly about him in front of me. That was a painful period of time.

Certainly, there are times to speak out, but there are times to be quiet. How did King Hezekiah and the people of Judah handle this situation? They remained silent. They did not answer them.

But is silence enough? King Hezekiah sought the Lord. We can follow his example and pray about situations that bother us. The Lord will give us an answer on how to deal with our particular situation. A prophet may not come in and give us a direct commandment from the Lord as Isaiah did for King Hezekiah. But we can seek God in His word and if we listen to Him, He may speak to us through other people or worship music. No matter which way the answer comes, God will give us an answer when we seek Him.

Then we follow God's instructions and trust Him to deliver us from the situation as King Hezekiah did. In this situation, God took care of everything. All King Hezekiah had to do was to seek the Lord.

With my son, he and I prayed for those who spoke badly of me. I instructed him not to talk to them about it, but to ignore them. In my work, I continued to pray for those men until the Lord allowed me to resign from that position.

In most confrontational circumstances, it may be best to remain silent and seek the Lord. God can deliver us from the evil. Remember, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces of evil. Therefore, we will never win on our own strength. It's better to remain silent and pray.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pharisaical Christian

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" ~~Matthew 9:11 NIV

When Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, working in his booth, He commanded Matthew to follow Him. Jesus then ate dinner at Matthew's house. Nobody wanted to be associated with a tax collector because they were sinners. Tax collectors commonly took more than what was owed so they could pocket the excess.

The Pharisees criticized Jesus for this act. According to Harper's Bible Dictionary, Pharisee in Hebrew means "separate ones." Also, "The Pharisees were zealous observers of the law, prominent among the people and especially concerned with ritual purity, tithing, food according to OT [Old Testament] law, and correct observance of Sabbath." Therefore, the Pharisees were deemed self-righteous hypocrites.

What do Pharisees have to do with Christians? Last week, I listened to a recording of a well-known public speaker and author. When he described his faith, he described it as "a follower of Jesus who believes the Bible reveals the Truth." Then he went on to say that he does not call himself a Christian.

Why? Isn't a Christian one who believes in the teachings of Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life and the only means to the Father? His explanation, unfortunately, did not shock me but took my mind to a place it hadn't thought of before. He stated:

"The term 'Christian' means different things to many different people, and lots of them are bad. These negative connotations have been rightly earned. Some of the greatest atrocities ever visited upon mankind have been done so by so-called 'Christians' and in the name of Jesus. So, when you say the word 'Christian,' there is no telling what it means to the particular person you are talking to."

What does "Christian" mean to the person we're talking to? Unfortunately, the truth is lots of people, including myself, have been hurt by well-meaning Christians. As a fellow believer, I feel like I have judged other Christians rather easily if they did not think like me or held the same doctrinal beliefs. And other Christians have judged me for my views not lining up with theirs.

Beth Moore explains there are spine issues, such as Jesus Christ born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, crucified for our sins, and resurrected and lives today. Then there are the rib issues that we need not argue over, such as music.

If there is much disunity among the believers, how do the unbelievers see Christians? I read an article on the internet by a homosexual who felt judged and condemned by the Christian community. How often do we preach "love the sinner, but hate the sin" but we don’t live it out. The message my pastor shared yesterday was not to treat the person any differently than you want to be treated. We ALL sin.

Jesus enjoyed his dinner with Matthew, the tax collector and the Pharisees criticized him for it. Here's how he replied:

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." ~~ Matthew 9:12-13 NIV

The Lord desires us to be merciful, gracious and kind to others no matter what their status. Love draws people to Christ, not condemnation and criticism. I do not intend to imply that all Christians have turned into Pharisees, but looking at the broader scope do Christians appear to others like self-righteous hypocrites? Then we are Pharisaical Christians.

Whether you use the term "Jesus follower" or "Christian," join me this week in loving others like Jesus loves. He sat down with the sinners without criticizing them. Let's be merciful and gracious to one another--believers and unbelievers.

Note: To listen to the recording I referred to in the text above, click this link.