June 12, 2008

Inner Character

This posting and the following one are to address an anonymous comment sent in regards to "Letting go".


What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:1-11

Justification of our sin through action in itself is a sin. 1 Peter 3:9 says, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing" which means there is no room for ungodly response to someone else's actions. If we feel that someone has wronged us, Jesus again said that we are to take it to that person and make him or her aware. Many times, we do not give people the benefit of the doubt. Often our wandering minds have no control and so something someone says or does in complete innocence is taken out of context and turned into exactly what Satan wanted you to hear or see. That is why we must always be thinking on truth. We must always be aware of Satan and his attacks because he is only here to steal, kill and destroy our families, our marriages and our friendships. He wants nothing more than to separate all the things that God has brought together.

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice."

James 3:16

James says that most of our quarrels and arguments come from our own selfish ambition. It comes from our own personal desires. We see something in someone else that we wish we had or maybe do have and do not recognize and it becomes Satan's feeding ground in our life turning it into our heart issue. We become quick to point out every flaw we think we see in someone because we make it our own personal mission to find fault in his or her life. My worship pastor reminds us a lot that when you are pointing a finger at someone else's sin or faults, that there are three fingers pointing back at you. I have really had to think about that because how quick are we to focus on someone else's issues when really the issue at hand is our own heart. Whatever is in our heart is very visible to other people every time we open our mouths because the words that come from our mouth speak loudly to the condition of our hearts.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

Luke 6:41-45

There is in fact a reason that we should be very careful and slow to judge because we all have huge flaws that must be dealt with in our own lives. A judgmental spirit can often reflect someone who is self-righteous or superficial or possibly, who has an insensitive heart. It is hard to look clearly at the lives of others when we have a plank in our own eye because it blurs our vision. We can examine ourselves for our self-righteousness by considering how often we are quick to correct others rather than correcting our own attitudes and actions. Jesus does not tell us not to examine the lives of others because we should help hold one another accountable but we must be careful to make sure that our eyes are also cast towards ourselves. We must be walking in humility in order to walk more closely with God.

We are to reflect good character and our relationship with God should be producing good fruit. Our fruit exposes where our lives are rooted and whether they are rooted in Christ. To judge a tree's fruit, we cannot just look at that one particular moment or season of production but the whole period of production from that tree. The product of that tree reflects the heart and the product of the discipleship of that tree reflects the inner character, which Jesus refers to as the treasure of the heart. (Luke 12:35) Simply stated, our works, our speech and actions are a snapshot of our hearts. A good heart is faithful while a hypocritical one is not. Obedience is not about keeping the rules we create but that of faithfulness to God. We cannot acknowledge the authority of Jesus if we are not pursuing our commitment to walk with Him in our daily lives. Trusting in God because of our faithfulness in our walk frees us to treasure the relationships that are at the center of our lives. Do we value one another by serving and giving to one another or do we value our selves and hoard up all that we have because that ends up being the true reflection of our heart? All we have to do is look at our heart to know if we are fully trusting God and walking with Him.

"Father, may we not look at others with a tainted heart but that of a heart that is filled with a love for You. May we not point fingers at others but recognize in our own lives the areas of our heart that we need to examine and make pure. Help us to love as You have loved and to be a blessing to others at all times. May we always be able to turn the other cheek and show true godliness in our lives."







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