Monday, April 21, 2014

Which one am I...?

Week 17:

Proverbs 9:12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.


Notice the picture above.  This cactus has been growing off our back patio for years.  My father had it in a metal tub that has rotted away and the cactus has grown into the ground beneath where the tub was.  I have taken many pictures of this cactus during the spring when it blooms.  Notice the beauty of the flower yet the potential pain of the thorn.  It is interesting how they are so close together.  At times, those of us who live in righteousness walk that line between the goodness of the flower and the sting of the thorn.

Recently at school, one of our teachers has encouraged his class to stand during the reading of scripture.  No matter the circumstance, whether we have a guest speaker in chapel, or the text is being read in class, the students stand in honor of God’s Word being read.  It is an impressive site…and…it has compelled others to stand with them.  The guest speakers have been taken back and impressed as well.  However, now that it has happened a few times, there has arisen a group of mockers who make fun of these students for their act of reverence. 

This mocking of these students brought up another passage for me.  Matthew 5:10-12: “10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  As I reflected on how I may approach the students who have been mocking this righteous behavior, I needed to do some self-reflection of my own.  Which one am I…the flower or the thorn, the wise or the mocker, the righteous or the insulter? 

I would love to say that I am the flower, the wise, the righteous.  Today, I would say that I am more the positive than the negative.  However, I have not always been so.  I have been the thorns, the mocker, and the insulter.  So, I ask myself three questions:  What is my reason?  What is my intent?  Is this the way I want others to know me? 

I think my reason and intent are intertwined.  One of the reasons I have mocked righteousness in the past has been because I felt conviction and guilt that I am not acting in righteousness.  My intent behind the mocking is to ease my discomfort by making fun of the act or even the person behind the act.  A second reason is that I tend to make fun of what I do not understand.  The intent is to cover what I perceive as stupidity in not understanding.  Finally, and unfortunately, my reason has been simply that I was bent on committing evil.  My intent in this case is usually to gain something for myself, usually some sort of reaction and notoriety. 

Of course, this is not how I would want others to know me.  Some of my deepest regrets have been how I have presented myself in the past.  Many who know me now and most who know me from my past would see me as an imperfect, righteous man.  However, regretfully, there are those who were only around me when I was the thorn, the mocker, and the insulter.  I am thankful for the grace of God through Jesus that helps me to see myself as a forgiven man.  My prayer is that others will know God’s love and grace despite my poor choices and actions.

For those who are living as the flower, the wise, and the righteous; do not lose heart and do not give up on that life.  Take to heart Matthew 5:10-12, not so that you may gain reward, but because it is what God put on your heart to do.  His blessings will follow somewhere.

Questions/challenges:

1.      Describe a time where you have been the thorn, the mocker, and/or the insulter.
2.      What do think where your reasons and intent behind your choices and actions?
3.      As you reflect back on that time, how do you feel about it now?
4.      When you have been the flower, the wise, and the righteous…what came to mind when the thorn, the mocker, and the insulter came around?
5.      What type of person do you want to be known or viewed?
6.      Take inventory on your life this week.  Reflect back on which you have been in some situations in your life.  Let God point out to you what was behind your choices and actions.  Then, let God’s grace and forgiveness cover your heart.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for your very human, warm words Byron.

    ReplyDelete