I want to choose better rather than bitter, but sometimes it’s not an easy choice. There are two occasions in the Bible that I specifically see the “bitter” problem:
when Peter betrayed Jesus & he went away, weeping bitterly;
when the water at Mara was bitter, the Israelites complained & Moses threw a log into the water making it sweet & drinkable.
So when I think about these “bitter events”, maybe they could’ve been better if the complaining & betrayal were eliminated.
I can see how that would be true for me when given the choice between bitter or better. When I complain less, I do better. And when I love Jesus even when it’s difficult, I’m better in my soul.
Something to think about for this wonderful Monday 🙂
Edgy, sharp, cranky, churlish, frustrated. These adjectives can describe us at various times. Maybe you’re short on sleep. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you have a conflict with your spouse or friend. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure at work or school. Regardless of the reason, let’s be careful about our words & attitudes in these challenging times.
Here are some helpful ideas to keep our attitudes, actions & words seasoned with grace:
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you
Chose self control over reactionary behavior
Take a 30second pause & look for stuff to be grateful for
Remember that we often prefer the consequences of grace rather than the outcomes of expressing frustration or crankiness 🙂
“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.
Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba. There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:
should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
secretly watched a naked woman bathing
continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
brought her to his palace
slept with her, knowing she was married
tricked Uriah, her husband
sent Uriah to be killed in battle
Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days. This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more! It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.
Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings! He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived. Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.
Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!
There’s a chick in the Bible whom I admire greatly, Abigail. I like her because she’s wise, resourceful, humble & honest. She married an idiot, Nabal, whose name means fool & he personified his name to the maximum. I think that maybe Abigail was in Nabal’s life as God’s invitation for him to change, but Nabal refused this invitation & paid for it by living a short & fruitless life. In contrast, because Abigail made different decisions, she wound up becoming one of King Davids wives & lived a fulfilling life.
The pivot point for Abigail came from one of Nabal’s notoriously stupid decisions. Abigail compensated for Nabal, interceded with David for Nabal’s life & this positioned her for a huge upgrade.
Usually, I want to run as far away from stupid as I possibly can, hoping it’s no contagious. But Abigail made wise decisions by being respectful, humble & generous.
Just because there are stupid people in our lives doesn’t mean that we need to be stupid with them! Let’s be sure that we counteract the stupid around us with respect & wisdom!
I’m a big advocate of listening. I think it’s essential that we listen to our kids, our mate, our friends, teachers, supervisors, pastors, political candidates, etc. Listening helps us learn, develops patience & is an essential ingredient for connecting with people. But alas, we cannot emphasize listening at the expense of doing.
This morning I read Jesus’ brief parable that contrasts a wise man with a foolish man, at the end of Matthew 8. In this contrast, Jesus explains that the wise man listens to God & acts upon what he hears. The foolish man, however, listens but doesn’t do anything. Let’s allow God’s Word to inform & shape our actions. Let’s be “doers” & not just listeners 🙂
“Do it scared!!” I’ve used this mantra on more than one occasion: snowboarding, my first triathlon, meeting important people, various travel experiences, etc. In my early 20s, my dad was massively helpful to me in dealing with fear – coaching me about not letting fear control me or make my decisions.
I most certainly don’t want to be controlled by fear, but here’s the good part of fear: fear can be helpful to inform us, but debilitating if we let it control us.
In Prov 9:10, it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & my friend, we need as much wisdom in our lives as we can possibly hold! Let’s allow the fear of the Lord guide our decisions & organize our priorities!
I pride myself in not being scared. I’m not scared to:
try new things,
go new places,
try different foods,
fail during a learning experience
stand alongside someone when they go through difficult seasons.
As I think about being scared, generally I think of myself as fearless, until I consider various situations that I avoid because I’m intimidated or afraid. I think that all of us wrestle with fear but in different ways. So let’s be honest about the unique fears that are difficult for us. If we aren’t honest about our fears, such fears will often control our decisions because we refuse to be honest & face them.
In general, I want to live a fearless life, but the one fear that I want to nurture & protect is the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & I need all the wisdom I can get! So having a healthy respect for God is an essential ingredient for letting wisdom flourish in my life.
Furthermore, remember that perfect love casts out fear 🙂
Pay attention to your fears & keep the ones that cultivate wisdom but challenge / toss the ones which try to control & shrink you!
One of my kids is very steady & generally unflappable. They don’t freak out easily & I love that they are so level. The other side is that they can also be stubborn & resistant to change. I’ll totally give you that not all change is good. But being hostile to change can prevent a person from growing, learning & maturation.
Let’s be people who get the good stuff out of being faithful & steady. But let’s also be people who can learn, adapt & grow! Seems to me that we become moribund & zombie-ish when we refuse to learn & change. If we are perpetually changing, however, we risk the danger of not being committed, the lack of roots & absence of fruit 🙂
Once upon a time, I had a college professor tell me, “Sarah, you’re not as smart as you think you are.” He revealed this “encouraging insight” in front of my entire class & I of course felt so small that I had to reach up to touch the floor. To add more insult to injury, at that time in my life, I thought that being smart was the ultimate thing in my life. If there was anything that I wanted to be at that time in my life, it was smart. So his comments were doubly stinging.
Many years later, I’ve come to the conclusion that while we are all smart in many diverse ways, what we really need isn’t better smarts, but more wisdom & specifically, godly wisdom. In the Bible, the book of James, it says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God to give him some wisdom & that God will liberally answer her request. So let’s you & me decide that we’ll ask God to give us wisdom & trust God to work out the smart part on an as needed basis ,)
There’s a scene in the Indiana Jones’ movie, “Last Crusade” where a knight who was protecting the holy grail says to Indiana Jones, ” you have chosen wisely “. I always remember this line because it was like a culminating exhale & relief part in the movie after something disasterous had happened.
So here are some thoughts about making wise choices:
chose love over fear – when we get scared, insecure, frightened or intimated, we can make some foolish decisions; remember that perfect love casts out fear
chose love over sarcasm – sarcasm stings but genuine love soothes
chose love over unforgiveness – unforgiveness is a prison that can make a person shrink into oblivion
chose love over apathy – we are make to participate & engage with our world, not to withdraw or disconnect; zombies aren’t real ,)
Love is an active decision that we get to make mutliple times throughout any given day – chose love and chose you will chose wisely 🙂
I had an interesting experience a few days ago with a very unhappy person. This person was extremely upset about a difficulty & she was upset beyond what the circumstances called for. I began to think about the possible reasons why she could be over reacting:
maybe she was having a rough day,
maybe there are other pressures in her life where she vents her frustrations in unrelated situations,
maybe she has some medical challenges that cause her to be easily upset
worst of all, maybe she is an angry person
There’s a difference between being angry about something & being an angry person. One is based on situations but the other is an identity. The person who finds their identity in anger brings dissension into his conversations & relationships based on Prov 29:22 & 15:18. An angry person tends to lack control over their behaviors & conversations. And an angry person, based on what Proverbs says, is a fool (29:11).
In contrast, a person who is slow to anger tends to have a better life – they have great understanding (14:29, 17:27), they’re not easily offended (they overlook offenses – 19:11), they have more self-control than an angry person and a person who is slow to anger is better than the mighty (16:32).
Let’s be angry for the right reasons (against injustices, wickedness & evil), but let’s not be angry people 🙂
My ultra cool husband made scones for breakfast today & he makes a fantastic scone! While we were eating, my kids & I had an interesting discussion about friendships with the importance of their various influences. In my morning Bible time, I read Prov 13:20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Here’s a quick synopsis of our conversation, chose your friends wisely because they will have either a harmful or wise influence in your life – affecting your choices, preferences and values. A companion of fools will suffer harm, but the person who walks with others who are wise, will himself be wise. Let’s be sure to chose wisely who we allow to be close to us, with whom we share our heart & allow ourselves to be vulnerable 🙂