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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Not just the "B" list

Yesterday we began a discussion about some character traits which we seldom focus on when really examining ourselves in the mirror, but which are really what makes us very appealing to God, and honestly, they make us pretty "appealing" in all other respects, as well.   As I mentioned, these traits are interwoven, almost dependent and coexistent with each other.  One trait just doesn't stand alone.  It would be like having one hair on the top of your head, one on your chin and an errant hair growing from your big toe.  It just makes no sense for hair to be on your big toe!  It makes perfect sense for it to be on your head, and only makes sense for it to be on your chin if you are a man!  Yet even one hair on the top of the head is kind of out of place, isn't it?  It needs its "sibling" hairs in order to really make a "display" of the beauty of our hair.  So it is with these character traits - they need each other in order to put on "perfect display" the work of Christ in our lives.

Today we explore our "B" list of traits, not because they didn't rank high enough to be on our "A" list, but because I am doing this discovery alphabetically!  We will consider two traits today:  Blamelessness and Boldness.

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. (Philippians 3:14-15 MSG)

Blameless:  Most of us have a little bit of trouble with this one - at least this is my impression from talking with people.  You see, the scripture lays out some "traits" which are inherent in all of us - bickering and second-guessing.  If you have a little bit of a bent in life toward the occasional bickering, you know how difficult this can be at times to actually NOT get involved in the little spats which are based on nothing more than wanting to be right, or have your say in a matter.  It is like trying to control the flow of water by putting a cork in a dam.  It just doesn't hold back too very long!  

Second-guessing is another thing I think more of us struggle with than we sometimes admit.  We go through life looking back - "second-guessing" our decisions.  We wonder "what if" a lot - but this doesn't help us move on, it anchors us to the past.  Another form of second-guessing is when we are almost paralyzed by the decision we have to make, always "weighing our options", but never really taking a step forward because we just keep "running the options" over and over.  Look at what Paul says to the Philippian believers - when there has been a change in focus from needing to be right and constantly "running our options", we actually stand out to the world as "blameless" or "uncorrupted".  Another word for blameless is guiltless.  Now, think about it for a moment - when we are always trying to prove our point by bickering about the smallest thing, or get so hung up in the "what ifs" of life, don't we also deal with a little bit of guilt when all is said and done?

Blameless people hold themselves accountable for their actions - allowing them to be dealt with immediately, so as not to allow any wrong actions to become the way others see God in them.  Blameless people aren't hung up in the what ifs of life - they embrace the present, making the most of it with God's help, and move on.  We all make decisions on occasion which are not the best for us, nor the testimony of God in our lives, but when grace is embraced, even the wrong decisions show the beauty of God through us to a world who so desperately needs to see how failures can be handled in a positive manner.

The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions.  (Proverbs 28:1 MSG)

Boldness:  If you have ever lived a little close to the edge of guilt, you know what this passage means.  Guilt has a way of holding you back, making you feel like you cannot do things, or even just keeping you from ever dreaming in the first place.  Bold people don't get hung up by past issues.  They allow them to be dealt with, left in the past, and move on.  Look at how they face life - relaxed and confident.  Where does this relaxed and confident attitude of heart and mind come from?  No place other than at the throne of grace.  There is no place other than at the throne of grace to take guilt and have it completely and thoroughly removed.  Why do we live with anything less than valiant boldness in the presence of God and our fellow man?  Isn't it because we fear exposure?  When we finally realize God already knows, we might just realize how silly our fear really is!  If we'd learn to take our failure to God first, what our fellow man would see was the power of grace to restore, renew, and regenerate the fallen. 

Blamelessness and Boldness go together - they are both based on grace, deal with similar "hang ups" in our lives, and are two traits which actually provide a means for us to move forward in life.  Alertness, attentiveness, and authenticity pave the way for us to stand blameless and bold.  Indeed, when we begin to become alert to our environment, attentive to the voice of our Shepherd, authenticity begins to become the reality of  how we live life.  Authentic people deal with real stuff - like the tendency to bicker too much, wanting to be right or heard, and then they deal with the guilt associated with wrong decisions.  Yet...authentic people also know the authenticity of God's grace and how it becomes the basis for us to deal with our guilt.  Just sayin!