Saturday, November 24, 2018

Oh, that's why!

Maybe we haven't really stopped to consider it, but God's decisions or actions don't always have to be popular or accepted by the masses to be 'right'. They just have to be 'on target' - consistent with his character, true to his Word, and always based on a bigger picture than we can appreciate with our finite view of life. Some of the time, God is blamed for things he didn't do - the results of our own actions and the consequences that we reap, for example. We somehow want to blame God because we are reaping something not very desirable at the moment, but if we are to be truthful here - he didn't determine the consequences - we did! This is all the more reason we need to consistently (and frequently) ask God to show us how to live and then to understand how those 'right actions' all add up to helping us live to the fullest.

You are right and you do right, God; your decisions are right on target. You rightly instruct us in how to live ever faithful to you. My rivals nearly did me in, they persistently ignored your commandments. Your promise has been tested through and through, and I, your servant, love it dearly. I’m too young to be important, but I don’t forget what you tell me. Your righteousness is eternally right, your revelation is the only truth. Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest. Psalm 119:143 MSG

God's Word is a starting place for the discovery of right actions. Yes, the Bible contains some stories that serve as examples of some pretty 'wrong' actions, but there is benefit in realizing others have made similar mistakes to ours! It gives us assurance God values us even after we make 'big mistakes' in life. God's Word is filled with not only promises, but with warnings. The promises are often where we gravitate when we are looking for the Word to help us feel 'good' and 'loved'. The warnings are probably not as quickly referenced! We sometimes avoid the warnings because they make us a little uncomfortable - either because we have been considering some not so great course of action, or have already been pursuing it a while!

God doesn't 'make' us pursue a course of action - we choose to pursue it. While he is capable of 'making us' live right, he isn't going to go against what we are choosing to do. Yes, he will continue to present us with warnings about those choices or actions. Yes, he will continue to be faithful to his promises. Yes, he will send reminders of his love and grace. But...there comes a time for each of us where we 'choose' the path we will take. We can choose the right or the wrong - but it is never God pushing us down one or the other. It is us taking steps along with him down the right one, and us deciding to leave him at the crossroads by going it alone down the wrong one. Yet, even when going down the wrong one, he provides warnings and beckons us back with his promises.

We don't always understand 'right choices', do we? As a little girl, I learned there were ten commandments - you know the ones I mean, right? These stood as pretty 'big' commandments in the scheme of things and were to be 'kept' at all times. Take one of those commandments as an example - like the one that tells us not to steal. That seems like a pretty straight-forward one, doesn't it? The right choice is to work for what we need, but have our bellies ever been so hungry we have snatched a piece of fruit from a market? The choice to 'steal' at that moment was overridden by our hunger. So, we know our 'obedience' to that commandment may be 'conditioned' by what we are going through, right? Now, take the commandment to not covet our neighbor's wife, desire their house, field, servants, or livestock. How often does the struggle to not 'covet' or 'desire' something someone else have plague us? Sometimes pretty frequently!

The commandments weren't given to deny us things that are pleasurable. They were given to help us live within boundaries that keep us safe. If we steal, we can spend time in jail. If we desire what others have and then act upon those desires to get the same things, we may find ourselves in debt up to our gills and with no real way out from under it. The emotions behind stealing and coveting are pretty powerful and can influence our actions. We need to understand God isn't just 'restricting' us from 'good things' - he is showing us we can have 'good things', but by the means and in the ways he delights in revealing to us. The fruit we need for our bellies might be provided if we offer to trade a little of our time doing a task the storekeeper needs done (like sweeping his walkway, shoveling the snow from his path, etc.). The shelter we call our own could be a rental, maybe even shared with another, but if he directs that course, it will be 'just right' for our needs.

God is interested in showing us how to live right - but he also wants us to understand the 'why' behind each right choice. God's promises are great - but we need the balance of living within the boundaries he describes, as well. These both affect our choices - choices affect our actions - actions determine our outcomes or consequences. Understanding comes as we spend time with him and really get to know him. When we get to know God and what his true character is, we understand the choices he asks us to make in a much deeper way. Just sayin!