No Fair

logo_retinaWhen 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.

No fair!

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.

The Vastness of God

psalm_36_5_by_seconteen13Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains; Your judgments, like the deepest sea. Lord, You preserve man and beast. God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your  refreshing stream, for with You is life’s fountain. In Your light we will see light. Spread Your faithful love over those who know You, and Your righteousness over the upright in heart. Do not let the foot of the arrogant man come near me or the hand of the wicked one drive me away. There the evildoers fall; they have been thrown down and cannot rise. (Psalm 36:5-12)

Sometimes we need to be reminded of God’s vastness: the reach of His love and faithfulness, the height of His righteousness, the depth of His judgment. He preserves, protects, fills, and refreshes. His light causes darkness to scurry.

He is nothing but faithful, loving, and just to everyone, because it is His character; He cannot be anything else. Yet to those who know Him, He spreads His faithful love over them. He fills and equips them to reflect His light well. Not because they are better or more worthy of others, but because they are willing. And willingness overshadows ability, power, and position in the long run. Always.

Lesson from Nature: Erosion

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

Water is beautiful, powerful, refreshing, and dangerous. So are many other things. Because of the positive aspects of something, we can easily disregard the negative impact it can have on our lives over time. We might not notice the impact because it’s happening under the surface, changing us from the inside out, creating a shell of what we once were.

All the while, we have protection. We just need to see our need for it.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

Looking at the armor doesn’t help. Knowing it exists doesn’t help. We can know the available precautions that might protect us from the erosion of our heart, mind, and soul, but until we take those precautions, they do us little good. Armor is intended to wear. Otherwise, it is empty, lifeless, and useless.

What erosion is going on in your life right now?

Pay attention, and do something about it.

What piece of armor might you be missing?

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.
 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. (Ephesians 5:14-17)

 

Camoflauge and Comparisons

Are you trying to blend in or stand out? Either way, you’re comparing yourself to others in the process.

Some of us like to blend in. We don’t want extra attention. We don’t want to stand in the spotlight. We want to be pretty much like our peers. Think back to high school days. Girls go on shopping trips together to get the same shirt in different colors. Even as they get older, they call each other to find out what type of outfit the others are wearing, so they’re not too casual or too formal. Women choose the trendy haircut over the most flattering. They’re willing to go to the movie of their friends’ choosing because they don’t want to create waves. They don’t want to bring up a concern or question in a meeting or small group study, because they don’t want to sound dumb or draw attention to themselves.

Some of us like to stand out. We don’t want to blend in. We want to be noticed for being different. Think back to high school days. Some girls didn’t set the trends; they rebelled against the trends. They determined their own style. Women choose what they wear because they like it regardless of what anyone else plans to wear. They’re not uncomfortable when they show up in something less casual or more formal than everyone else. They get the haircut they want even if it’s a different color, length, and style from everyone else. They’ll sometimes speak out just to speak out. They won’t be silent for long, and they definitely won’t hesitate to ask a question or voice a concern.

What’s your default setting?

How are comparing yourself to others – either to blend in or rebel?

We think we’ve grown beyond such high school tactics, but I think we just get trickier about it.

Do you shop where your friends shop?

Do you feel bad (or good) about your weight when you’re around your friends?

How often do you respond based on what others might think? (Remember your response might be to create no waves or purposefully create waves in a situation.)

Do you do things “because I’m independent, and I can,” or do you yield to what you assume someone else’s expectations are before you even ask?

Of course, we should have respect for others, and we need to consider what’s appropriate for various situations and relationships, but God doesn’t require us to compare ourselves to others. If he did, we’d never be good enough next to someone like Mother Teresa but never be as bad as Adolf Hitler. The truth is we respond in love and service and in selfishness and disrespect. God sets the standards; we don’t. No human authority trumps God.

Compare yourself to God using his perspective. There will always be room for growth, but he won’t overwhelm you with conviction of what you’re doing wrong or puff you up with what you’re doing well. Neither is consistent with his character. He knows just what you need to hear and see in order to be challenged to grow. Faith is definitely a challenge, but it will not be overwhelming even when it feels as if it is. God will keep you humble without squashing you. When you’re guided by his Spirit, you will experience life in the timing and way best for you – not your best friend, sister, mom, or mentor.

You were created in God’s image. He wants you to blend in to his identity. He wants you to stand out as a witness to others. Stay in his presence. He’ll clothe you in his righteousness, and you will glow with his beauty.

So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. (Genesis 1:27)

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)