Friday, November 16, 2012

Repeating Matters

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; 
but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends."
Proverbs 17:9

The devil loves to divide.

Marriages.  Homes.  Churches.  Nations.  Communities.  Friendships.  

The foundational cause for disunity in each of these examples is, of course, our sinful flesh.  But here, in Proverbs 17:9, God shows us a specific and all-too-common reason why relationships seem to be short-lived and tedious.

A few years ago, as I was reading my Bible one morning, I came across this verse, and as I read it, the light bulb of the Holy Spirit's conviction went on in my heart!  God showed me something that morning of which I was guilty, particularly in my marriage.

You see, whenever a husband and wife get into a fight (whoops...I mean, if the kids are listening...a "discussion"), each contender feels that he is "in the right" going into the battle.  And the object of the fight is to prove and persuade the other party, so that they'll come to the point of admitting, "You were right; I was wrong."  That is the point of VICTORY!!  [Of course any honest married man knows, truth be told, that, most often, both parties were "in the wrong" in some way or another.]

Did you know that one of the greatest weapons to use in one of these marital battles is the weapon of "repeating matters"?!

Repeating matters is when I (the husband) remind my opponent (the wife) of all the times in the past that she failed and was indisputably wrong.  And if I can build my case with enough examples of past failures, then there's a good chance I'll win this battle with no sweat!  For you see, as I repeat matters in our argument, she will recall all of her past failures, and upon remembering all the times that she was wrong, she will inevitably and sweetly wave the white flag of surrender, thus ending the argument and restoring the loving intimacy that a Christian couple should have.  And they live happily ever after!  What a great, God-given weapon that husbands and wives can use to fight the devil and bring love and reconciliation in their homes--this weapon called repeating matters!



If you are married, you are thinking one of two things:

1) This guy is crazy to think that repeating matters solves anything!
2) This guy has a bad case of New England sarcasm because everyone knows that the weapon of repeating matters doesn't work that way at all!

You see, God convicted my heart that when it comes to relationships--especially relationships that God intended to be characterized by love, peace, and intimacy--the higher goal is to fight for unity, not for the title of being "right".

God wants there to be harmony in the home, not strife.  God is not concerned with how often a husband is right, but with how often he is Christlike.

And so I came to the conclusion that day that, although repeating matters is indeed a weapon, it's not a weapon of God that defeats the devil so that relationships flourish; rather, it's a weapon of the devil that defeats God's purpose and causes relationships to dissolve!

There is a weapon, however, from Proverbs 17:9, that we can indeed use to help our relationships thrive--it's called covering transgressions.  This is the opposite of repeating matters.  It's when I choose to overlook and sometimes even pretend not to notice the shortcomings of my partner.  And let me tell you, this weapon works!  It's very similar to the tools called "forgiveness" and "grace"--both of which, coincidentally, share the same Manufacturer as that of covering transgressions.

I'm by no means a perfect Christian, nor am I a perfect husband.  And I still have a tendency to use past failures as ammunition from time to time.  But when I do, the Holy Spirit often reminds me (through the sound of an audible voice proceeding from the smirking face of my wife) that I am "repeating matters." And at that, I realize that I am using the wrong weapon against the wrong person.

Let's not let the devil divide our families, churches, and friendships.  Let's overcome the devil by heeding God's Word and following the example of Christ, "who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dealing with Tears

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." 
Revelation 21:4

The life that we now live is full of tears.

Tears of grief.
Tears of regret.
Tears of longing.
Tears of suffering.
Tears of shame.

There is such deep pain experienced throughout our life's journey.

A dad who never comes back from war,
A mom who just can't fight the cancer anymore,
A paralyzed child through no fault of his own,
A woman abused, abandoned...alone,
A man who's wrecked his home, and oh what he'd give
A second chance to have, his life to relive!

But alas, these things cannot be undone.

Christians are not exempt from tears.  They suffer like anyone else--sometimes due to the choices of others, sometimes due to the circumstances of this sin-cursed earth, and yet, sometimes due to the consequences of their own mistakes.

But there's great comfort in knowing that the tears shed by a child of God are not hidden or forgotten.

The Lord said, "I have seen thy tears" (II Kings 20:5).

According to Psalm 56:8, God has a bottle and a book that contains our every tear.  He sees, He knows, He remembers, He cares...about every one!

Tragedy happens.  Tears follow.  But what deep anguish to go through tragedy and shed tears without a comforter--without hope!  Such is the plight of a man who knows not the Lord!

"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter." 
(Ecclesiastes 4:1)

I recently came upon a song that touched my heart:  "There is a Higher Throne," sung beautifully by the Galkin Evangelistic Team on their album, Consider Himwhich can be purchased here from iTunes. This song speaks of the promised blessing of eternal fellowship with the Lord, our Shepherd-King.  The second verse reads:

And there we'll find our home, 

Our life before the throne; 
We'll honor Him in perfect song
Where we belong.
He'll wipe each tear-stained eye
As thirst and hunger die.
The Lamb becomes our Shepherd King; 
We'll reign with Him.

It was the statement, "He'll wipe each tear-stained eye," that really moved me.  To me, it makes a difference that God Himself will be the One who wipes away my tears.  It won't be an angel.  It won't merely be Time.  It'll be the loving, compassionate hand of my Abba that caringly wipes away my tears...and that, once and for all!

One final thought:

I know God has decreed that all tears will be finally wiped away, and for that promise I am deeply grateful!

I only wonder if we will still have tears in our hearts.  Oh, not for sin!  Not for shame! Not for sorrow!  But for the same reason why the sinful woman of Luke 7:38 "stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears."

You see, someday we will come face-to-face with our Shepherd-King.  And forevermore we'll worship at His throne, praising Him with hearts full of thanksgiving, for the amazing grace of God that saved a wretch like me!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

"Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, 
lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it."
Proverbs 25:16

We know that a Christian should hate what God hates and love what He loves.  We know that a Christian should love God with all of his heart, and hate evil.  We know that a Christian should delight himself in the Lord, and should abstain from all appearance of evil.  Regarding the path of wickedness, God says to:

"Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away" (Proverbs 4:15).

We also know that God has graciously given us good things to enjoy in our lives.  He has given us family, food, friendships, and things!

There are no Biblical prohibitions or warnings against things like: having a picnic with your family, going to a sporting event, or playing a board game with some friends.

And like honey, these things are good things.

"My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste" (Proverbs 24:13).

I'm personally grateful for the "good" things of life.

Let's remember, however, that God never intended the good things of life to give us the deep, lasting satisfaction that our souls crave.  God is the only "good thing" that brings true contentment.

Idolatry is when a person attributes more value to something--anything--than to God.  So often, we think that if we can accumulate lots of "good things" we'll be happy.  Or, if we can somehow manage to move from one good circumstance to another good circumstance, avoiding all bitter situations and trials, then we'll be content.  And so, we find ourselves pursuing the good things of life--even to the point of idolatry.

Good things are good...but only to a point.  Too much of a good thing causes sickness.

Let's be careful not to fill our lives with good things to the point of spiritual sickness.  We must remember that family and friends, hobbies and sports, education and careers, rest and recreation, and so on...though they are blessings from the Lord, these things must never take God's place as our heart's greatest love and pursuit.

A person who has every good thing the heart could desire, but who lacks a thriving, intimate relationship with God, will be no more content than King Solomon, who, at the end of his life, made his lament:

"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: 
for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." 
(Ecclesiastes 2:17)

But if a person will walk with the Lord, abiding in Him, he will be fruitful, stable, and furthermore...content!

"For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." 
(Philippians 4:11)

Give thanks to God for the "honey" He gives.  Enjoy it.

But don't depend on it.  Don't worship it.  Don't pursue the neglect of the Living Water, by whom the longings of the soul are satisfied.

All my life long I had panted

For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.

Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.

Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.

Hallelujah! I have found Him

Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.