Are You Finding Fault or Remedy?

ea8f0d9edd75ca0b6130d0201ac146aaIt’s better to build something up from the inside than tear it down from the outside.

But that doesn’t stop us. We’re filled with criticism even if we primarily focus it on one person, situation, ideology, program, institution, position, etc. Discerning is essential, but discerning isn’t letting a judgment rationalize complaints. Discerning is the process of determining what is good, bad, and best, and that includes the way we respond. Complaining gets us nowhere. It might feel good temporarily, but it’s not constructive. It rarely helps the situation. We may find people who agree with us, so we cheer each other, affirm each other, and might even try to come up with some ideas of how we would fix something…if we were able. If we were in a different position. If we could take control.

But we don’t have control. God does. That’s confusing when things aren’t going the way we want them to go or believe God would want them to go, but we must remember we live in a messy world. That doesn’t mean God is any less powerful. He is always working out His eternal plan, but He doesn’t micromanage. He lets us choose, and those choices have consequences that ripple through relationships, cultures, and generations. We try to make all the connections so that we can explain those ripple effects with simplicity, but we can’t see all the details, so we can’t possibly explain it all.

But we can be responsible for what’s in front of us. We can refuse to take control, trusting God instead, and also refuse to complain without a commitment to God and solutions consistent with His ways and will.

You probably don’t like to hear others complain (unless they agree with you). People aren’t excited about your complaints either.

We Rage Because We’re Lazy

humilityI got involved in a social media “conversation” a while back that had an important discussion at stake. It was an invitation to listen to different perspectives and try to understand each other. It was an opportunity to consider solutions that might actually yield results if we could work together. But how can we expect to come together as a nation, state, community, family, church, workplace, and the list goes on, if we are only willing to toxically spew why we’re right and how everyone else is wrong? Our solutions are so easy…

If people would only raise their children right…

If people would only believe the right things…

If we could just get rid of “stupid”…(I’m not kidding. That was actually a suggestion! I refrained from giving my response to that one.)

We often rage because we’re too lazy to lament about the woes of something. We don’t want to feel the personal pain that results from a choice, situation, or act. We want to distance ourselves enough from it so we can come up with a solution that neatly fits without complications of reality. We don’t want to dip our toes into humility enough to consider–let alone admit–that we might be wrong, even if it’s just a little bit.

There’s a place for passion. There’s even a place for anger when injustices need to be confronted. But let’s use our filters and our brains. Let’s be responsible enough to engage in humble, intelligent, God-honoring, respectful conversations with people, especially people different than ourselves.

Will you join me? We can hold each other accountable.


Spiritual Pruning: The How and How Not

imagesI read about the the starfish problem on the Great Barrier Reef. Because the starfish are voracious eaters, the more there are, the more of a bulldozer effect they have on the beautiful coral. It’s been going on for quite some time, and many experts have come up with solutions.

One idea seemed simple: Kill the starfish. So, divers took knives and cut the starfish in two. But starfish can regrow limbs, so in reality, the divers were multiplying the problem, not diminishing it.

When I was in Jamaica recently, someone asked about the snake problem they had many years ago. The guide assured us, “We have no snake problem. We brought in mongooses. Now, no snake problem. Only mongoose problem.”

Sometimes, when we try to get rid of one thing, we make the problem worse.

Pruning our lives can be the same way. When we try to solve a problem on our own, trusting our own understanding, timing, and advice, we can make the problem worse.

There is a right way and many wrong ways to prune our lives. There is a right pruner and many wrong pruners to do the pruning. It’s not an easy or painless process, so we might as well determine to do it the best way possible.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)