November 21, 2009

Just Do It

These days, many people allow emotions to rule over truth. For them, what feels good is more important what is right or the best action.

This way of thinking also happens in Christian circles. Those who are gifted with a great deal of compassion are often drawn more to whatever will produce emotional stability or whatever is practical. They do not like confrontation or emotional stress. This is part of the gift of compassion, but it can tip too far. For instance, when faced with some decisions they show their desire for calm waters, they start asking like, “How will it make me (or us) feel?” or “Will it divide?” or “Will it offend?” instead of “Is it true?” or “Is it the will of God?

To be fair, those gifted in teaching focus on the principles of Scripture and thinking right. Those who are servers see the Bible differently than those who are gifted in leadership. Our gifting does give us the ability to see what others might miss, and we are to serve one another with those gifts. However, we are also to use them rightly and in ways that honor God.

I need compassion people and I like to feel good, but I also need to make sure of what the Bible actually says. I cannot bend it to whatever I or others might want it to say, and when I read it with an open heart, I know that life will not always feel good, even when I am obedient to God. For instance, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

To live by what feels good could put me in direct disobedience. I need to be more concerned about what is true and right. Luke wrote the book of Acts and told of a group of Jews that were concerned to find truth. 

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
The words “fair-minded” are literally “noble-minded” because they were interested in finding truth, not good feelings or pleasant circumstances. They did not have a “what is in this for me” attitude.

Not all people are like the people of Berea. My devotional reading points out that far too many people go to church today to get a certain feeling rather than think or weigh what is said and make sure it is true (using the Bible, of course). By letting their emotions rule instead of right thinking, their spiritual lives are certain to become unstable.

These believers in Berea received the Word of God with readiness, eagerly welcoming the truth. They also wanted to find out if what they were hearing matched up with what the Scriptures said. This is interesting because the New Testament was not yet written. All they had was the Old Testament. Many modern day Christians tend to mentally separate the two sections of the Bible, forgetting that the early Christians had nothing else but the older Scriptures. By careful study, these early Christians could compare what they were hearing (and what we can now read) with what they already had. The Scriptures were their measuring stick, not their emotions.

While that kind of Bible study takes work, I can imagine what it did for their faith. They could see the hand of God throughout their history leading up to the days they were living when Jesus walked this earth and died for their sins, all described and foretold in their sacred manuscripts.

Bible colleges offer courses in Bible Synthesis, but Christians do not have to go to Bible school to discover the harmony between the two sections of the Bible. What we need more is that noble-mindedness of the Bereans who gladly did their homework. That would help all of us, including me, better live by the Word of God and abandon this feel-good philosophy that keeps us from being lights that shine in a dark place.

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