February 26, 2017

The bottom line

In many instances, I am a bottom line person. I want to know the why of everything. If someone does something odd, I try to learn why they did it to help me understand. Rarely can I dismiss weird or unusual situations without looking for the back story.

The same is true going the other way. If anyone tells me to do something, I want to know the reason for it and what it will accomplish. In mathematics, equations make sense. In life, do this and that will happen must also make sense. Otherwise, why do it?

Principles from the Word of God that offer a bottom line are often prefaced with ‘therefore’ or use ‘since’ followed by ‘then’ or ‘because’ as a heads up. The promises of God might use ‘if’ followed by ‘then’ when they are conditional, but not always. This one has trigger words with a definite bottom line.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10–11)

God says that His Word will do what He wants it to do. For instance, because “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” it will expose the thoughts and intentions of the heart by dividing soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God is the way that God saves people from sin in the first place. It gets inside the heart and reveals both sin and the Savior. It also acts as a mirror, showing me what I am really like . . .

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:19–25)

By His Word, God shows me what I am like and as I persist in reading it, He shows me what I need to do. The actions prescribed will vary, but they do have a commonality, a bottom line . . .

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13–16)

While this one is a bit harder to grasp, it is saying that God’s Word is powerful to expose both my ‘former ignorance’ and show me what holiness looks like. It also hints at a bottom line for what happens if I am ‘preparing my mind for action’ and not being ‘conformed to my former ignorance’ . . .

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God . . . .” (1 Peter 1:22–23)

The bottom line throughout the Bible story is God’s love and that we love God and love others as ourselves. This is actually only one command since I show my love for God by doing what He tells me to do, and He tells me over and over and in many ways that I am to love others from a pure heart. That pure heart is developed by letting the Word of God have its way in my life.

Jesus, I feel Your smile and hear You say, “Keep reading, Elsie. Keep studying, and doing what I tell you to do.”

There is such a vibrant connection between the written Word of God and the Living Word of God. Without You, Jesus, I am unable to do anything You say, but You live in my heart. You have made decisions easier as You encourage me to keep my focus on You and Your commands. Thank You for giving me a desire to continually seek the bottom line for all issues and problems, even all gifts and delights— because in all of what challenges, puzzles, or blesses me, the bottom line is always You.

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