When I tell the righteous person that he will surely live, but he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteousness will be remembered, and he will die because of the iniquity he has committed. So when I tell the wicked person, “You will surely die,” but he repents of his sin and does what is just and right— he returns collateral, makes restitution for what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without practicing iniquity—he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the sins he committed will be held against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live. But your people say, “The Lord’s way isn’t fair,” even though it is their own way that isn’t fair. (Ezekiel 33:13-17)
We cannot rest on our accomplishments or convict someone on their faults. Our good deeds and faith don’t carry us through if we abandon them, just as our offenses don’t condemn us if we turn and leave them behind. God wants ongoing, respectful relationship. But we want to be able to determine just what we can and can’t do. We want some control. We want to declare what is fair and what isn’t. And when we begin to understand that following Him isn’t about fairness, we can throw our hands up and declare God is wrong to do things His way, and people are wrong to follow and trust Him, and we’re better off without Him.
But God is beyond fair. His standards aren’t like the ones we create, where everything fits into boxes that can’t ebb and flow beyond the boundaries that comfort us the most. We like to declare, “Foul! Wrong! Good! Bad! Right!” But who are we trying to convince?
Maybe we need to be quiet long enough to let God do a little convincing of His own.
I’d give up the world to find my soul
Pour out my life, give You control
I just want to be what You want me to be
I just want a heart that’s true
A heart like You
I just want a heart like You
The world teaches us to fight for what we want, not what we need.
The world certainly doesn’t encourage us to fight for what and how God leads.
Maybe it’s because seeking God and grasping His will is a bit more challenging than understanding and reaching for our own. After all, we know what we want.
But it changes.
Consider what you most wanted when you were two years old. Eight. Twelve. Nineteen. Twenty-five. And so on. Now consider what would have happened if you had actually received what you most wanted.
On the other hand, what if someone could see and understand the bigger picture and guide us, not just based on the desires of the here and now but the benefits and consequences down the road a bit?
That’s what God can do.
So instead of fighting for what we want, let’s put all that effort into pointing toward Him. He is powerful enough to fight for Himself. He doesn’t need us to figure it all out and proclaim solutions to everyone. He wants us to seek Him and trust Him to take care of all the details along that pursuit. We wants us to honor Him with grace, mercy, love, compassion, and truth every step of the way.
We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name. May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh, for we put our hope in You. (Psalm 33:20-22)
God: helps. shields. loves. We: wait. rejoice. trust. hope.
How often do we overlook our own responsibilities and take on God’s?
So he gathered the priests and Levites and said, “Go out to the cities of Judah and collect money from all Israel to repair the temple of your God as needed year by year, and do it quickly.” However, the Levites did not hurry. (2 Chronicles 24:5)
Sometimes people aren’t in the hurry we wish they were. We see urgency, and we think we convey it with passion so that they’ll catch on, but they don’t.
The opposite happens, too. People move faster than we want, even though we might warn them of the dangers of hurrying and the benefits of patience.
Not that we are always right, but when we believe we’re getting clear instruction from God, we want to follow Him well and want to encourage others to do the same.
Let’s be careful. Let’s set a good example of following God well, but let’s remember that everyone is accountable to God, and He moves in different lives in different ways and timing. We can trust Him. We’re not in control, and that’s a good thing.
I caught myself leaning forward a bit in the office chair during staff meeting. I noticed it because I realized the person to my left, who was leaning way back in his chair, might not be able to see the person to my right. I started to lean back, then paused. I remembered one reason to not lean back.
I didn’t completely trust the chair. The first week I sat in in, it gave way. It wasn’t much. I didn’t fall. But it startled me. Others chuckled, because apparently, it wasn’t the first time it had happened. In fact, I soon learned that someone’s chair seems to give way a little bit every few weeks. I don’t know if it is always the same chair that somehow gets switched around or if the chairs are just faulty. Either way, I’m not going to trust them by leaning all the way back. If it ever gives way when I am completely relaxed in it, I will end up on the floor!
We say we believe in God, but do we trust Him? Or, do we lean forward a bit, because it’s safer? We keep a little bit of control (or at least, the illusion of it). But the truth is God is fully trustworthy. In fact, He’s the only One who is. He won’t let us down. Oh, we’ll feel uncertain. We’ll feel shifts in support. We’ll even fall and fail by our own standards, but God knows differently. He knows the support we need and the freedom to shift we need.
If we want to believe God, we have to go beyond knowing about Him and claiming Him when it’s comfortable and convenient. In order to truly believe Him, we must trust Him more and more, regardless of our circumstances.
It doesn’t have to be a major crisis. It can be the daily wear and tear of life. We want to help. We believe we need to help. We’re certain God directs us to help. But what constitutes true help? It is often different for varying situations and people. What will equip one person demeans or overwhelms another. What boosts and motivates one person causes another to feel entitled to future help.
When we help, we need to equip survivors, not create victims.
It’s easier said than done. We may want to take control and feel as if we have all the answers. We don’t want to be generous in case someone takes advantage of us, or we want to be generous when we’ll set a precedent we can’t maintain. So, how do we know how to respond?
Let God lead, then trust Him with the results.
The results we see won’t be perfect. They will be messy, because life and people, including ourselves, are all messy. We may think we’ve failed someone when he or she needed to struggle through the situation in order to grow. We may think we’ve helped when we’ve started a ripple effect that negatively affects many.
But God can deal with it all. What we offer must be purely motivated, seeking to honor Him each step of the way. We need to give Him our strengths and weaknesses, humility and motivation, doubts and fears. We can trust Him to help us survive and thrive through the process of helping others despite, and perhaps because of, the difficulties.