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Archive for August, 2012

Integrity in Awkward Moments

August 28th, 2012

All this we want to meet with sincerity, with insight and patience; by sheer kindness and the Holy Spirit; with genuine love, speaking the plain truth, and living by the power of God. Our sole defence, our only weapon, is a life of integrity, whether we meet honour or dishonour, praise or blame. Called “impostors” we must be true, called “nobodies” we must be in the public eye.

2 Corinthians 6:5-8, Phillips Translation

Do you have difficult relationships? Are there some people whom you would prefer not to be around because of disappointment? How are we to handle these people? How are we to react toward them?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9), and the world is woefully short of peacemakers. It is easier to divide people than to unite people, to blame than forgive, to judge than excuse, to avoid than to be reconciled.

The apostle, by the inspiration of the Spirit, had such relationships and faced them with sincerity, kindness, and genuineness. The only defense was a life of integrity, one where the thoughts of the heart matched the words of the mouth, because he constantly sought to keep his heart inline with the heart of God.

There is a tremendous benefit to such relationships, though it is not felt always – that the sincerity of our faith might be tested, that we might know whether we stand in our faith, in Christ, in our integrity, or if we stand in something much less. The Christian’s sole responsibility is to please the Lord and then to live accordingly. Whether we are honored or dishonored among people matters little, if at all. What does matter is that we are in agreement with the Spirit of God in all things.

We are prone to lean back upon the righteousness of God, or as we have understood His righteousness, and justify our actions or our words. Even when we were right we can still become wrong if we do not move forward with grace and kindness, seeking reconciliation without compromising the truth. The scriptural admonition is to “bear with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13), meaning that we must learn to work through the difficult points of disagreement.

There is a point to avoiding some people, of disassociating with those who bring us down, who are dominated by unholy passions, or who are proud and wise in their own eyes. We have to follow Christ and avoid all associations that trip us up – “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33); “Do not associate with a hot-tempered man, or one easily angered, or you may learn his ways” (Prov. 22:24-25). We may not be able to say just what is truly going on in someone else’s heart, and we should be quick to forgive and slow to accuse and judge, yet we do have an obligation to use our time and relationships in those ways that bring life and hope and healing and salvation, in clear agreement with the Holy Spirit of God and the message of the Bible.

Our sole defense is a life of integrity, lived in the center of the will of God, in agreement with His truth and His Spirit.

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Evening Devotionals ,

The Unhindered Witness

August 27th, 2012

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities…

2 Corinthians 6:3-4

Paul saw himself as both a servant (6:4) and a co-worker with God (6:1) – we are under His authority and we work cooperatively with Him. We can hinder our influence for Christ by selfishness, by insisting on our rights rather than on the rights of Christ to do as He wills with His people. This is a mark of a mature follower of Christ, that anything in his life that interferes with a Christian testimony is immediately gotten rid of. We may protest that this is not fair, or that it is impossible to do.

As to fairness, the only thing that matters here is the right of our Lord to do with His possessions (us!) as He wills. He has purchased us twice – by creation and by redemption on the cross – and we belong to Him doubly! It is inherently unfair to deprive someone of using his possessions the way he desires, and it is unfair for someone else to use the possessions of another person in a purpose or manner that the owner does not approve. If Christ is deprived of His will being done in our lives then that is unfair.

As to the impossibility of this, that imagines that God is not active in our lives or in our witnesses. It puts the entire discussion on some philosophical level and not on the practical level. Once the principle is accepted, once the heart is made right with God, once the matter is put then on a practical level, it is very simple and clear to see what the Spirit is saying to us in this area. He will show us how our lives might block the sharing of our faith with those around us.

He will also give us the heart to do this and the strength to sustain us as we do it. Like Paul, once we begin down this path of being a witness, once our hearts are committed and our other choices are put aside, then we will find Him to be our constant companion. What we cannot imagine enduring or bearing up under at this point, when we get there by following Christ we will find Him sufficient. The strength we need tomorrow to bear the unknown challenges that lie there, will not come to us until that time. Al we need to do is to take the steps before us today and He will lead us there.

What obstacles have you placed in your life that prevent you from being an effective witness today, that block others from seeing Christ in you? Let Christ have full possession of His property. Let Him have your heart and your life and your will. He will strengthen you and reward you.

Evening Devotionals , ,