An Inexpensive Virtue

An Inexpensive Virtue

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 Many Christian virtues prove to be expensive when applied in interpersonal relationships. For example, it costs to be generous and to love your enemies – especially when you define “love” as treating others the way you wish to be treated. Most agree that to love those trying to hurt you is indeed difficult. Not so kindness; of all the Christ-like virtues it is the least costly. It costs you nothing to be gentle, kind, gracious, considerate. For this reason, you never have an excuse for being rude, abrasive, unkind, or cruel. Never belittle another person. Never humiliate others, joke at their expense, ridicule, speak in a sarcastic, caustic tone, or say things you know they would not appreciate. No one likes people doing it to them, and you never have a legitimate excuse for doing it to others. I have heard men and women say to family members what they would never say to a stranger. They lose their temper and say cruel things because they are secure enough in the relationship that they think they can afford it. From God’s perspective, you can never afford such abusive behavior! Never forget the warning of our Savior: “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” 1 1.   Matthew 12:36 KJV For more articles by Walt...
Our Thoughts vs Our Ways

Our Thoughts vs Our Ways

“A man may arrange his thoughts, but what he says depends on the LORD.” Proverbs 16:1 Scripture teaches many things that are counter-intuitive. This is one of them: God determines what you say. You may determine what you think about, but God determines what happens next. Solomon also said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”1 Because Judas entertained evil thoughts concerning the Savior, God incited him to execute them. In this verse God says He also determines what a person says. My mother warned her children to guard their tongues, for words once spoken can never be rescinded. The problem with words is, they lodge in the minds of those listening, and at the most inopportune time return to the memory with disturbing effect. Solomon warned that the only way you can control your tongue is to control your thoughts. When you think about something you cannot guarantee that you will not say what you think. Thus Proverbs contains an astonishing truth: We are responsible for our thoughts, but based on them, God determines what we say. Our instincts may suggest otherwise, but this is what God promises. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”2  Because our words reflect our thoughts, God will judge us, in part, on the basis of our words: “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”3 1    Proverbs 23:7 2   Matthew 12:34 3   Matthew 12:36 For more articles by Walt...
Check-mated by God

Check-mated by God

“He said, ‘Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed him to scorn.” Matthew 9:24 Jairus, one of the Jewish leaders, asked Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Upon arriving at Jairus’ home, the daughter had already died. Jesus asked the mourners to leave so He could awaken her from her sleep. Upon hearing this, “they laughed him to scorn.” Jesus incited them to admit she was dead, else when He raised her from the dead they were apt to say she was only asleep. This way Jesus got them to admit that what He was about to do was miraculous; when she arose from the dead they had to admit they had witnessed a miracle. You must use the same strategy in your relationships with others. Until a person realizes he is sick, he resists going to the doctor. Unless a person admits he has a need, he sees no compelling reason to surrender his life to Christ. Unless you admit that God will judge you, and that that judgment will influence the quality of your eternity, you will not be motivated to yield to His authority. For more articles by Walt...
Why Did God Create an Unjust World?

Why Did God Create an Unjust World?

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10 If you assume that God created the world, you cannot be convinced that He is just by looking at what He created. Assuming that I am correct in this observation, why did He do this? Remember, all relationships require reciprocity, and reciprocity requires the exercising of the will. You cannot have a relationship with a robot or a manikin. He created people in order to have a relationship with them, and because He is the Creator, and they are the created ones, submission to His will is essential for the relationship to exist. God created all people with a desire for autonomy. This desire was not the product of their sin, but the reason they sinned. If He had not created them with a desire for autonomy, they could not have chosen to have a relationship with Him. Having been given the choice, they rejected Him in their quest for autonomy. The heart of your relationship with God centers around the question of who you think should decide what is good and evil,1 what is in your best interest and what is contrary to your best interest. If God senses that you do not believe in the core of your being that He alone should define good and evil, He will not have a...
False Impressions

False Impressions

“Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” Matthew 26:31 If, prior to the betrayal of our Lord, the disciples had discussed how they could most completely misunderstand the events surrounding Jesus arrest, trial, and crucifixion, they could not have done a better job. What they perceived and what happened were exact opposites. They looked at the unfolding events as a tragedy of the first magnitude; dashed hopes, unfulfilled expectations, the destruction of their dreams. In reality, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ provided the basis for their hope of heaven and a life of purpose here on earth. This illustrates how wrong your perception of events can be. If you are like I am, you can look back on your life and see things that happened to you that you thought were counter productive to your best interest, if not a tragedy. Later you discover that it proved a blessing in disguise, as illustrated by the person who was angry because he missed his flight, only to find out later that the plane crashed. Conversely, you remember things that you initially thought were pure blessing, only to later discover were just the opposite, as illustrated by people who felt blessed that their spouse agreed to marry them, only to discover that they had entered into an unfortunate alliance. Pray that God will deliver you from bad decisions and circumstances, and then give Him thanks when events unfold in a way that make...