I think a lot about things. I think a lot about a lot of different kinds of things which in turn leads me to praying often about all sorts of stuff. I pray and I read my Bible. One quote that has always stuck with me is from a pastor named Dr. Voddie Baucham in which he says, “‘The Lord told me’ is no substitute for, ‘The Bible says.'” I think this is important no matter the issue, and I think it should also extend to, “‘I feel like’ or ‘I think’ are no substitute for the Bible says.”
One of the joys in not elevating ourselves above who God is or what He says is that we get to know what He actually has for us and in that we are free to experience that through seeking His truth, not ours. This is challenging, and it can be uncomfortable because it propels is past ourselves and into areas that expose what in us is not looking to God or is looking to ourselves or the world.
That bubble is hard to break out of because it is more comfortable than truth. It is more comfortable than a challenge, but IT IS ALSO A TRAP.
It’s a trap that moves people to being okay with posting hateful things in the wake of tragedy. It’s a trap that leads people to not praying for leaders in the world because they don’t like them or their political stances. It’s a trap that entangles and ensnares people in such a way that they look for others to pull down with them because if they rally enough people around them, they aren’t shouting alone in how wrong they are. Being collectively louder is not the same as being collectively correct.
As believers, it always has to come back to scripture. That is what matters. What I think doesn’t matter. What the world thinks doesn’t matter. What God thinks has to be infinitely more important than elevating ourselves into taking what we are comfortable believing and honoring it as if it were God breathed.
All of this to say that I do believe that God still moves the hearts of man and speaks to us, BUT what is spoken should always align with scripture. If it does not, it is not God. Don’t do things in His name or speak things as truth that do not come from or actually contradict His word.
It’s like forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive people sometimes. There are people that are hard to love. We all know these people. They are selfish or controlling or always the victim. Everything wrong in their lives is someone else’s fault, never their’s. They find a way to insert their misery into every situation – no matter how much joy should be there. If it’s not all about them or the way they think it should be, they grip tighter for the control they want to have or reach for manipulation to bend everyone’s will to theirs.
The world only sees this and you see the hurt they have put you through. The world doesn’t consider forgiveness to be strength, and the wounds of our heart want to scream and yell and push that person away. That is what our thinking gives us. Throughout scripture God teaches us that He loved and forgave us when we were the worst kind of people. One example of this in scripture is this, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
Even “that person” is included in this, and seeing them through the lens of scripture and through truth will be what allows you to forgive. That’s different than what you feel, and it may not change them. It’s also not just about them.
Sometimes forgiveness has to come from just being obedient first, but when you continue to seek God’s truth and not yours, you see things and people the way He sees them. Anytime this has happened for me, I’m mostly moved to compassion for them. It’s not comfortable or easy to get there, but it’s not about living life based on what I think or feel. In that, I’ve been able to let go of so much hurt that could have drowned me in a sea of bitterness.
It’s all about looking at it through the right lens and the right way for believers. Another point on this is that we can’t expect people to live this way apart from Christ. I’ve talked to people who condemn and argue with people who do not believe in Christ because they don’t live like they know God. THEY DO NOT KNOW HIM. Why would they? You can not love and honor God without Him first giving you a new heart, and we can’t yell or argue people into wanting that either. Would that have made you want to know anything about Jesus?
“Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4
Through this lens we again see that what we think someone ought to do can’t be shoved down their throats, and we are reminded that God never dealt with us this way. He loved us at our worst. It was kindness that led you to repentance. You may want that person to choose to honor and love God now, but you can’t scream or trick or guilt them into it. Even if that seems to work, it won’t be genuine. I also know this first hand. You can’t choose God for another person- not family, not those you minister to, not your children.
I’ve been praying for years for different reasons for so many people. I can’t make them choose or change anything. I’m not the Holy Spirit. That’s not my job, but I can speak truth in love and pray and wait.
I started this post with the intention of writing about the Potter and clay, but this poured out of me. It may be a word just for me, but I hope it’s a word for you or someone you love. I hope it reminds us all that it’s not about us or what we think or feel. I hope we all see the places where we’ve wrongly elevated anything or anyone or any idea above God, and then I hope we topple the pedestal we put it on. Even if what shatters in the fall is us in our own thinking, I hope we can move away from that elevated self and toward God.