Wednesday, January 7, 2009

sobering

"Now I urge you,
brethren,
keep your eye on those who cause dissensions
and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned,
and turn away from them.
For such men are slaves,
not of the Lord Christ
but of their own appetites;
and by their smooth and flattering speech
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.
For the report of your obedience has reached to all,
therefore I am rejoicing over you,
but I want you to be wise in what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

"The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

Paul wrote the quoted passage to the church at Rome.
But since Scripture is given by the Spirit of God moving men,
and it is all profitable for me to receive
so that I can grow to think, speak, and act more like the God I so dearly love,
I don't brush it off.

God would not have given me this instruction
if I weren't going to be around people like this.
I need to think about who I know who is like this,
and then I need to trust God and His instruction enough
to do what He has told me to do.

I ask myself,
"Do I know anyone like this?"

I almost close my Bible and go on my way.
But I know God better than this
after the time we have spent together.

I lay aside the "do I know anyone"
and ask instead, "Who do I know that is like this?
Who do I know who causes dissension,
and raises objections to what the Scripture says?
Lord, help me to be fair in my evaluation."
Some people come to mind--
people who I want to please,
people who I want to impress.
"Lord, what is it again that you tell me to do with this people?"
I hesitate.
He wants me to turn away from them.
Avoid them.

Part of me cries out,
"You're kidding, right?
this is a poetical metaphor?
or maybe it only applied to that time and place?"
No, it is clear, and it is for me.

There is a short struggle.

"God, I will do it Your way,
but You are going to have to help me,
because You know this is going to make me look bad.
Don't You know about the 'peace at any price' game?
You don't play that game?
You won't sacrifice truth or justice or mercy in order to gain peace?
You must have some reason for this command.
I think I need to have my thought-processes changed,
because otherwise I am not going to be able to do this.

"How do You see these people--the ones who cause division,
the ones who place obstacles in the way of understanding Your teaching?"

Time passes as I reflect on what this Scripture says.

They are slaves,
slaves to their appetites,
not slaves to Christ.
How so?
Slaves to an appetite for control?
Slaves to an appetite for their own fame?
Slaves to an appetite for money?
Slaves to an appetite for conflict?
Slaves to an appetite for superiority?
If this is true, then of course they cannot be slaves of Christ.
I can see this clearly now.

"How was it that You said they work?
By smooth and flattering speech?
Oh, Lord, I have been vulnerable to this smoothness,
and I have an appetite for flattery.
Please help me to yearn for your approval,
and to be indifferent to the approval or disapproval of people."


Time passes in contemplation of how this Scripture will look
when it is lived out in my day to day life.
"Oh, Lord, by accusing them of flattery,
You are warning me that their compliments are insincere--
or if sincere,
given only to achieve their own purposes.
Lord, are You saying that they are only using me?

"You are saying that with their flattery,
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.

"They are deceiving?
They are deceiving the hearts?
They are deceiving the hearts of the unsuspecting?

"Oh, Lord, this is ugly.
If anyone but You were telling me this,
I would be angry.
But since it is You,
I am afraid--
afraid of straying away from You.

"Please grant me the strength and wisdom to obey you in this.
Help me to be wise about what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.

"Regardless of how contrary this is to my human way of thinking,
I am aware that You are here,
and You have brought Your peace.
I will trust that You will do as You said,
and soon,
soon crush Satan
under our feet."

5 comments:

~Mrs Sandy~ said...

Thank you for sharing!!! This is so true.

Andrea said...

Tammie,

There were so many things I LOVED about this post!

First, you're right in saying we ought not "brush off" the Word of God.

Next, I could very much relate to the struggle that ensues after God gives me directions I don't want to follow. You made mention of a short struggle, but I hate to admit that sometimes my struggles with Him are long! When will I learn to succumb to His will peacefully?!

Finally, I've been guilty of falling victim to "smoothness" and satisfying my "appetite for flattery".

Thankfully, God shows me the error of my ways, forgives me when I repent, and sets me back on the straight and narrow path.

Thank you for such an enlightening post Tammie. I always enjoy my visits with you!

Hope a.k.a. Ernestine said...

Dear Tammie,

I appreciate you look at the scripture. I hear so many people give excuses that…it was meant for THOSE people at THAT time. Some commands may seem harsh, and we reason them away.

I join you in this prayer…“Please help me to yearn for your approval,
and to be indifferent to the approval or disapproval of people.”

Thank you for writing this post!

Love, Hope

Tammie said...

Dear Hope, I know that it is a temptation for me to think that some things were not meant for me today. . .and on some issues the Lord has had to take me through some deep difficulties to help me to see how pertinent His instructions are for here and now.

Tammie said...

Dear Andrea, :D this struggle happened to be short. others have taken me so long--I am so thankful for the Lord's patience with me when I am, at times, so stubborn and foolish.