Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Plenty, Honor, and a Satisfying Life

A payoff is a culmination of a series of events which leads to a certain outcome.  For some of us, our "payoff" is when we finally get to retire from our daily jobs and pursue other interests we have put off until that time.  We have saved faithfully, hopefully planned well, and look forward to the days ahead once we arrive at that date.  If you are like most of the folks who finally arrive at that transition point, there is something bittersweet in your arrival at that point - for life is about to change and sometimes it leaves a person without a sense of purpose in life.  I think that is why I tell everyone when I retire it will just be from one career into another.  I just cannot imagine getting up in the morning not having a purpose for my day!  It may be to volunteer my time to organizations I support, travel to places I haven't seen yet, and to write until my heart is content, but I will have a purpose! There is a bigger payoff all of us should be concerned about - that of right relationship with God our Father and the outcome that yields!


The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life. (Proverbs 22:4 MSG)


Meekness is an often misunderstood characteristic in this day and age.  For many, when you challenge someone to develop a sense of meekness, they equate it to weakness or an inability to make a decision and stand by it.  For others, they equate it to being timid and shy.  In the most literal sense, meekness is strength in more ways than I can define!  It is the ability to be humbly patient in the face of provocation - even calm, soft, and "forbearing" in response to the mistreatment one may experience coming their way.  It is indeed a strength - not a weakness.

Meekness is not natural - for everything within us either wants to do one of two things - either take flight in the face of provocation, or stand up to it in a fighting stance.  This is best known as our tendency to exhibit the "fight or flight response".  This is the natural response to provocation - not the ability to "forbear" with another who is getting all "up in our grill"!  When one forbears with another, they are using a tremendous amount of restraint - even resisting the urge to use words which may be unkind or able to provoke the other guy.  There is more than an ability to "hold back", but to do it with tender love and deep compassion for the other guy.

We see this repeatedly modeled in the life of Jesus.  He was indeed provoked time and time again - only to respond in meekness to the taunts, teases, and terse comments.  He exhibited patience and something we have come to call "self-control" in the face of all manner of annoyances.  We will do well to learn how it is we "model" this behavior in our own times of "annoyances".  I don't believe meekness is learned overnight, nor do I think it is some "supernatural" gift we just "get" from God.  I think it is learned as we come into a deep, intimate trusting relationship with God.  The closer we get to him, the more of his love and grace is "absorbed" into our character.  In turn, our responses become more and more "self-controlled".  In truth, it isn't us controlling "self" - it is his restraining force within us!

The fear of God is cited as one of the things leading to this "payoff".  To understand this, we must first understand the original intention God had in creating us.  He desired fellowship with others created in his image - created like him.  In turn, we were given a free-will simply because he didn't want robots to fellowship with, but those who would lovingly and passionately choose to have this relationship.  The fear of God is a right placement of God in our lives - to put him at the center and revere him as the Creator of all things, sustainer of all life, and redeemer of all mankind.  In a sense, as we come into a right "understanding" of God, we come into a place where we give him the correct honor he is due.  In turn, we come into a place where it is said we enjoy his presence.  The fear of God is not a trembling, wimpy, submissive stance before God - fearful he might strike us down for some minor infraction. It is the healthy respect for his position as Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and the willingness to submit to his leadership and care.

In turn for a character which embraces meekness in the face of adversity and a healthy respect for the authority of our heavenly Father in our lives, we receive a "payoff", so to speak.  According to our writer, it is that of plenty, honor, and a satisfying life.  Plenty - having abundant supply of all we have need of in this life.  In terms of what is most important, let's focus on grace. If we are truthful, we need an unlimited supply of this - not just a one-time shot at it!  God's promise to us is abundant grace.  Honor - most of us equate this with "status" or some form of "position" in life.  In scriptural terms, it means we come into a state of continually acting honestly, with fairness, and with an "integrity" which reveals our beliefs are exemplified in our actions. In other words, we have a consistency between what we say and do.  A Satisfying Life - if the first two are in place, whatever comes our way, satisfaction is sure to be found - even in the toughest of places.  Just sayin!