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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Is your tank full?

Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. (Alexander the Great)


People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.  The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. (Proverbs 21:2-3 NLT)

I wonder if we'd live our lives any differently if we really stopped to consider someone else's fate may be the result of either our actions or inactivity? If we had to do over the things we ended up seeing as "bad results" in our lives, would we? Or would we head aimlessly down that same path again at some point? Most of us would say that we'd definitely not make the same mistakes again - we'd do things quite differently if we were given a "second chance". The most unfortunate fact is that most of the time we don't get "do-overs" in this lifetime! This might actually mean we need to pretty much get it right the first time around!

There are times when grace allows for us to "do again" what needs to be done, but it doesn't always assure us of a chance to do something differently especially with the ones we may have hurt along the way. Those individuals may no longer be living, or they may not be a part of our lives any longer, making it impossible for us to "do over" something which left an offense unsettled between us. What then? Some counselors will tell you to use some method of bringing closure to that negative outcome such as writing the dead parent a letter and then ripping it up. In the letter, you sought their forgiveness, or perhaps you extended yours. Unfortunately, this only takes care of some of the hurt - it doesn't heal it all because we still have a whole lot of living yet to do.

God's grace is perfect - don't get me wrong - it helps us get to the place of a "clean slate", but it takes very careful attention to our wounds to actually see them through to full or total healing. The more we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the better our chances are of doing things right the first time, so all these "corrective steps" don't need to be taken and there aren't wounds formed in the first place. We become aware of our responses toward each other and in turn, we might just find we are "thinking before we speak", considering the consequences before we take that action, or noticing there is a gap that needs to be filled while also recognizing we have the resources needed to fill that gap. 

Too many times we believe our personal conduct only affects us. The opposite is quite true - this is why scripture warns us to consider the company we keep. Does that other individual in your life lead you toward right choices, or are their actions leading you into actions which you will later regret? If the latter is true, then you might reconsider why you are in that relationship with that individual in the first place. Sometimes it is because you are there to be a positive example, but you must constantly be on your guard to not let their negative actions pull you down that same path. It is a hard place to be for very long, and you need balancing relationships that foster the right actions, as well. All of us can be positive examples that help to guide others - especially if we live a life filled with grace and truth.

Fill the tank with the right stuff and the right "performance" is observed. Fill the tank with the wrong stuff and the opposite is quite true. Remember, as Alexander the Great said, the fate of others may just depend on what we are filling our tank with! Just sayin!