Against the Grain

6 05 2014

To love others well without making them a project goes against everything I *knew* to be true about Christianity.

What’s the point of learning Scripture – if not to know which verse(s) to beat someone over the head…and into obedience to Christ – right?

Paul’s ‘more excellent way’ from 1 Corinthians 13 begins by stating that whatever we do, if the motive is not love, it is a lot of hot air and noise to others.

In the past, when I saw a behavior in someone (that I didn’t like, usually) I would pull out my trusty Sword, select the correct blade (i.e. verse), and skillfully stab them with it.

Consequently, few people were interested in talking with me.

I was a huge proponent of church discipline, and believed that we saw too little of this. No wonder the sheep wandered all over the place – they hadn’t seen enough by way of consequences for *bad* behavior…or so I believed.

What I failed to understand is that behavior modification will only take us so far…and then dump us along the side of the road.

Actions flow from the heart.

Note this from James 1:14-15:

“Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

The action begins as a desire. Did you see that?

Sin (the action in question) flows from the heart.

Full-grown, it brings death.

The death may not be physical, but something is going to die. A relationship, a job, our conscience…something dies every time.

As we see, the problem isn’t the behavior…it’s the heart.

Thus, if we are going to benefit the body, we must  give up the notion of behavior modification as the primary goal. 

Instead, we need to love them. As we listen to their story, we begin to notice a common thread. We begin to ask questions that will help them see things from God’s perspective.

For instance, if we’re talking with someone whose experiencing the same issue in several areas of life, we ask questions about each individual incident that help them see that it’s really all the same matter…just taking different forms in each instance.

Once they see the connection, our job isn’t to tell them what to do to fix the problem, but to have them ask the Lord about it…and then make time at a later date (a few days or a week), to see what He had to tell them.

The way the Lord handles my stuff is vastly different from the way most people would. He’s gentle, kind, encouraging, and often challenges what I thought I knew to be truth in the matter.

I want to learn to be more like Him!

When we revisit the topic, we want to hear what wisdom and insight they gained from the Lord…be quick to hear, slow to speak. As they talk, we can listen to what they believe the Lord said, hold it up to the light of the Word to see if it sounds like Jesus, and affirm their understanding…or ask more questions.

“The Lord said that you’re a lowlife, worthless, and a waste of His time? Hmm. Is that what the Bible says is true about you?” Etc.

They learn to discern truth from lies, and most importantly, to hear the Lord’s voice. 

This is a priceless gift to give to another believer!

The gifts we’ve been given by the Spirit are for the purpose of equipping the body to fulfill it’s work. The only one that is for ‘personal’ consumption is that of tongues. Everything else requires an object of the gift if it is to be used…someone to spend it on. The intent must be encouragement, support, strengthening, and exhortation.

The delivery must  be made with love. We are seeking what will benefit other believers individually, and the body as a whole.

The old days of evaluating Christians so I knew what was needed to get them to “shape up” are gone; the score cards, report cards, and evaluation sheets have been cast into the fire from whence they came.

Observation of ungodly behavior is now an invitation to pray for the person, seek God’s counsel concerning him or her (is this His invitation to come alongside?) and to extend to my brother or sister all the grace and mercy I’ve received from the Lord.

If my motive isn’t love, then it’s not my assignment. Period.

Oooh, this definitely goes against the grain of all I was taught concerning Christianity!

I leave you with this from Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are God’s workmanship…” 

His project…not ours!

 

It is important that you hear “the rest of the story.” Please read: Meanwhile…

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19 responses

7 05 2014
cucumberlodge

2 Timothy 3:13-16 – “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

7 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

These are certainly the days in which we must be vigilant.

Knowledge of Scripture is critical for every believer. We must never assume that what is being taught is pure truth…especially if it is delivered by an imperfect human (and last I checked, Jesus isn’t in a pulpit).

Thank you for sharing this important passage of Scripture. 🙂

\o/

7 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

PS – Don’t miss “Meanwhile” – the next post. I address this. It had to be done in parts, for few read extremely long posts that give the entire picture. Sorry if I alarmed you. 🙂 (And thanks for ‘calling me on it’ if I did.)

\o/

6 05 2014
Pure Glory

Great point. Everything we do must be sifted through a heart of love. The enemy of our souls operates from fear and love is something he doesn’t comprehend. Love triumphs over judgment. I have to daily ask The Lord to put a guard over my mouth and to raise my love level. 🙂

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Oh, me too, me too!

So far to go yet…!

\o/

6 05 2014
birdieklh

this was wonderful . . . thanks!

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Thank you! God is good to us, isn’t He? I love how our learning continues.

\o/

6 05 2014
Bina

You spoke my heart!!! “We” forget the “relationship” aspect of Christ…and instead take on His “work”…and mess it all up!!! Great post, my friend!!

6 05 2014
blmaluso

Wow – that is the truth! Thanks for saying it so perfectly:-)

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Until recently, I never understood the “relationship” aspect of Christ. I’d only ever been taught the “work” bit. You’re accurate in stating that it was all messed up. So sad. I’m glad that He’s teaching me a different way to do this. 🙂

\o/

6 05 2014
Bina

What is awesome is that He loves to teach us…and you have a heart open to new things, which is a blessing from Him.

We ALL have areas that we don’t “get right” when it comes to who God is…the important thing is that when we learn Truth, we live IN that Truth! *hugs*

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

🙂

\o/

6 05 2014
blmaluso

Such a timely post. I am learning the exact same thing:-) This is also entering the political, cultural realm for me…learning to pray for our leaders, and also to just hand over all my concerns and worries about perpetrated evils to Jesus. The Lord is the only one that can “Save”…it is not my job to “save the world.” (learning process and journey for me…I have also been a “fixer”)

As my relationship with Jesus grows closer, I am so much more aware of seeing Him in the hearts of all I meet. When I see or feel somethng from them that reveals their struggle/sin, I am focusing on sharing love with them in some way, and praying for them. Prayer is so powerful.

May God bless you and continue to bless your words:-)
Bernadette

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Wow, Bernadette! It sounds like we’re on the same journey. May the Lord grant you the ability to learn quickly. Love is so needed right now.

Hadn’t thought about such in a political arena as well – excellent point. Thanks for sharing that. 🙂

\o/

6 05 2014
Easter Ellen

This is a wonderful message.. Love what you had to say on “what we say” and how you said it 🙂

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Thanks. I was concerned that it mostly came across as a ‘ramble’. 😉

\o/

6 05 2014
Easter Ellen

No.. I think that God has worked wonderfully in your own heart to soften your approach (as you said) and to inspire you to be such a wonderful teacher.
🙂

6 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

Ah, words that encourage. Like a long, cool drink on a hot day. Thank you. {hugs}

\o/

6 05 2014
Easter Ellen

Completely my pleasure 🙂 It is what we are here for, no? 🙂 (hugs) back!

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