Thursday, July 23, 2015

Perspective on Other Sinners

I have had this conversation more than a half dozen times in the last couple of months.  It has been at the forefront of my mind, especially with me being in management.

Here it is- If I want to, I can nit pick any person alive.  I can point out faults about anyone.  In fact, there isn't a single co-worker who I couldn't pick apart & find plenty of fault with.  Even more, there isn't a single employee of mine who hasn't done something that they could be fired over.  Even my best employees make mistakes, get into bad moods, and sometimes cost the company money.

BUT, they could say the exact same thing about me too.  I make mistakes daily.  I cost the company money sometimes.  I too get moody, do things that aren't "employee of the year" worthy.

The fact is that people make mistakes.  People miss the mark.  People sin.  Speaking of sin, The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard (Romans 3:23).  The Lord, who sees what we do in public and private, could surely nitpick us to pieces.  In fact, He even knows our diabolical, self-serving, and fearful motives.  He could instantly destroy any of us at any time, because we are always screwing something up.

Here is the rub, so how come I don't fire people who make mistakes?  How come I don't knit pick people?  And on the other hand, why is it that some people, who have been continually forgiven by the Lord, so quick to criticize and devour others?  Why is it that some shred people while others seem to see the good side of people?

A couple examples-
1. Terrible Terry- Before I even met this co-worker (identity changed), he disliked me.  I could feel his eye upon me.  Watching, nitpicking, judging, condemning.  No matter what I did to win his perspective, it was futile.  I was hosed!  Unless HE changed his attitude toward me, nothing-not angels, nor demons, neither gold, lattes, or silver could change this graceless attitude.  I tried to change it, but I ended up wasting six years of effort (sarcasm- it wasn't wasted, they were burning coals to this person, I did my part, before the Lord to live at peace).

2. Cruddy Curly- This person did not get along with one of my relatives.  Is my relative perfect?  Heck no.  They have more issues than a magazine.  BUT, they also have redeemable qualities, just as Cruddy Curly has.  Does she see people through eyes of grace?  Yes, but only those who she "connects" with.  She has just enough friends and is just nice enough to a select few, in order to feel justified in her critical actions toward others who deserve it.

So, how do we get past nitpicking and become a person of love and grace?  After all, love covers over a multitude of sins.

Here is what I do as a manager:
1. I believe that ALL of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
2. There is only one person who is perfect, and it isn't me.  It is Jesus.
3. Understand that we are all in process.
4. Understand that people are in different places in this journey of life.  For example- some are children of God, some are not yet.  Some are mature in their faith, some are not. Some are dealing with things, some are dealing with other things.  Some have baggage to work through, some have great baggage to work through.
5. Understand that we are all fearfully & wonderfully made (Psalm 139).  God has wired us uniquely.  I need to learn to appreciate the diversity of personality.
6. I know there is an enemy out there who is battling the Lord for the souls of people.
7. I choose to keep focused on the big picture.
8. If someone has a major issue, that is affecting the workplace & bringing disharmony, I come alongside to help them develop.  I give them room to grow.  However, after several conversations, I still may need to have a formal meeting with them.  But it is NEVER over something preferential or small.  The issue has to be significant enough to affect even  the big picture.
9. I pray for people who have major things they are working through.
10. Because of all these things that I practice daily, I seldom get frustrated with others, unless it is a BIG thing.

So, how about you?  Do you, when you are frustrated with someone, choose to see only the negatives?  Do you put them on your dart board?  Do you become the eye of Sauron search to tear them to pieces?  And if so, why?  Why, when God has overlooked your huge amount of grievances?  Let's keep the big picture in mind and enjoy harmony.  Let's learn to see the good in people, and if absolutely necessary, only confront big destructive things.

Jesus loves you too.

Further reading- Jesus' teaching in Matthew 18:21-35


Saturday, July 11, 2015

What is "belief"?

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." -Acts 16:31

οι δε ειπαν πιστευσον επι τον κυριον ιησουν και σωθηση συ και ο οικος σου

The word of focus here is: πιστευσον

The word here is in the AORIST, ACTIVE, IMPERATIVE
Here is what that means- it is a punctiliar action done NOW.
The word means to believe, to entrust, to place your trust in.

So what is this belief and what isn't this belief?
1. It is not to only believe facts or information about.  For example, if you believe that Jesus is the Lord, God, the only savior, died on the cross, and rose again- that belief, while accurate, will not save you.

James 2:19- "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." So a mere believe in facts...to say that these things are true....they don't amount to you being saved. 

2. Belief is TRUST.  The Greek word pisteuo has to do with belief in, having faith in, trusting in.  
No doubt, in this scene in Acts 16, the jailer believed that there was something about Jesus.  He realized that something more had to happen though.  He was convinced that Jesus was Lord, and that Jesus was sovereign.  But now what?  The context is one that begs to come under Jesus.  

John 3:16- "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever BELIEVES in him will not perish but have everlasting life."

Believes here is the same Greek word- but is in the present active- you are the one doing the work of believing and it is a current and ongoing process.

One example from daily life is a chair.  You can believe all day long that it can hold you up.  But until you sit in that chair you are not trusting that chair.  So it is with Jesus.  You can believe facts about him all day long, but you are not safe until you trust in him by placing your life and hope in him.

3. Belief is ACTIVE. 
Someone just asked me if you need to repent to be saved.  While that is true, it is hard to answer that question, because of the possible ways they may understand the word repent.  Do they mean that they just believe in facts about Jesus and continue in their sin?  Do they mean that they need to trust Jesus and then not trust him with their lives and hope?  The second makes no sense.  The first is what most unredeemed people do anyhow.

Well Jesus said in Mark 1:15- "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; therefore repent and believe the good news."

So, seeing that belief is active trust in Jesus and since we are called to repent by Jesus, then YES repentance is necessary for salvation.  Someone cannot place their trust in Jesus yet not trust him.  This is not a biblical understanding of faith, belief, trust.  This is a secular view of those words.
Repentance happens to someone who places their trust from one thing into the hands of another.  In fact, the word for repentance means to turn.  You are turning from sitting in one chair (say the Joe chair), getting up, turning, and placing your weight in the Jesus chair instead.  

To say, I believe in this chair but I will not, I don't have to sit in it....what good is that belief?  What does that belief get you?  Nothing.

Back to the original verse-
"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved."

Believe (to place your trust in) is active (you are believing, you are moving your trust) it includes repentance (a change of direction, a new dependence, a new direction), and continues.  

So, have you gotten to a point where you have said, I have had enough.  This isn't getting me anywhere.  My life, to this point, has been pretty empty. And if I were to die, what would happen to me?  Where would I go?
Have you looked at Jesus and thought, you died on the cross for me, you are the Lord, you are obviously my only hope.  
Have you said, "Jesus I want you to save me.  I am placing my hope, placing my trust in you. You are my rock, my safety.  I will trust you."?
And have you finally quit trusting in your own efforts and have decided to trust His very capable hands?  Have you taken him as your savior?  

I hope you will sit in him.  He is your only hope for salvation and for wisdom in life.