Wednesday, October 10, 2012

People Who Ruin My Life

I have been thinking about you lately.  Yes, you.  And wishing I knew you better, or knew more about you.  Some of you I've met in brief comments here at Heart Quencher.  Others of you share encouragement over the phone or in passing.  Each response is precious.  Each response represents one of you seeking the Lord, desiring to serve Him, striving to live the gospel in a world that is very much against it.  If there is a topic that would be helpful to see here, or if you'd like to see more practical tips, or have ideas to share, please don't hesitate to comment or send me a personal note. I'd love to hear from you!

This last week I've spent time with a couple of friends whose lives are being ravaged and torn apart by someone else's choices.  Perhaps you've been there.  Someone you love is making a series of choices that not only create tension and inconvenience, but tear your heart from your chest, expose it to the world, and leave you feeling used and confused.  We talked about sin--that is our natural bent, that is what we choose.  Too often we are surprised that people do wrong when it should be the opposite.  We should be amazed, praising God when people (including ourselves!) trust Him and obey, regardless of the circumstances.
"I don't know if _________ is saved," each woman said, and I heard the desire of her heart, having asked it of myself and others.   
"Jesus said to look at the fruit (Matthew 7:16-23)."
Knowing the right answers, claiming to do work in Jesus' name, and participating in church activities are not the fruit--but that is often what we look for.  And it's not so much about examining the fruit in others as it is about examining the fruit in our own lives.
In his book, Changed Into His Image, Jim Berg challenges us to look at our response to difficult situations as a way to determine spiritual fruit.  When hardship comes, do I respond with jealousy, anger, disputes, drunkenness, immorality, or striving?  Or do I find myself showing love, kindness, patience, peace and gentleness?  The overflow of my heart, in my words and actions, is the fruit of my life.  It is the difference between who I am naturally and who I am when God's Spirit resides within. 
When difficulty, pain or rejection come into my life I have a choice between my way and God's way.  The trials are meant to build up my patience and steadfastness, allowing God to work our Jesus' character in both big and little things (James 1:3).  My hunch is that Noah's first assignment from God wasn't building an ark for 120 years.  He was faithful in the little things and then the big things, as God presented them (Luke 16:19, Matthew 25:29).
And that is where the difficult people come into our lives.  God uses them.  He grows us in Christlikeness as a result of their sinful tendencies.  He may actually use them to protect us in a mysterious way we cannot understand.  But we can trust His faithfulness, His wisdom, and His love and praise Him through the process!

"Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
"And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.!" (Matthew 7:24-30, 37-43). 

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