WE’VE GOT WHAT?

Some time ago we noticed some dirt on the baseboard of the guest room in our home.  It is a room that had gone through multiple iterations of use, from a suite for our daughter and her family, to a bedroom for us after surgery, to a guest room for visiting clergy and friends.  Since our children have moved back home and have established homes of their own, we no longer have need of the guest room for housing their families so it is not put to frequent use.

Therefore, we did not pay much attention to the “dirt” on the baseboard in the corner of the room.  We went into the room recently and discovered that the “dirt” seemed to have become more pervasive and we became a bit concerned about the cause.

The answer to the title question is “We’ve got mold!”  It has not intruded into the entire room, just one corner, but it did a real good job of invading that area.  We have now had the corner stripped of the dry wall by the mold remediator, and we can see the damage that it caused.  Now the mold has been killed and the area sealed off until we can get a contractor to repair the damage.

mold damage 0708191104b
Ceiling in the corner of the room showing mold damage

As I was looking at the damage, while trying to settle my stomach from how ugly it was, the Lord struck me with the realization that my hatred of the mold and what it did to the house is miniscule when compared to His holy hatred of sin. 

The room looked fine when you looked at the wall.  Yes, there was some discoloration at the baseboard, but no one looks at that!  Put something in front of it and you don’t even know it is there!

The room looked presentable.  It was fine.  It was even quite pretty with the curtains and lovely furniture, with knickknacks on the shelves and a broad window showing off the rose bushes outside. 

But when the sheet rock was taken down, what a horrible scene embraced the eyes!  At the lower corner of the room, you could see the outside through the vinyl siding on the exterior wall of the room.  The only thing between the room and the outside was the thin vinyl siding.

mold damage 0708191104a
The lower corner exposed pure sunlight through the siding.

On the outside, we can look presentable, maybe even pretty or handsome as we go to church, pay our tithe, sing in the choir, and do all the things that we are supposed to do.  But if we harbor sin in our hearts, if we are quarrelsome and spiteful, if we covet or lie, if we murder the reputation of others through gossip or slander, or if we abuse the marital bed through adultery, we present anything but a pretty picture when the veneer is taken away.

Jesus spoke of this situation in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Matthew 23:27-28

The Pharisees and scribes were holy men before the people, but they were lawless sinners before God, the One who could read their hearts and minds like an open book. 

It is humbling to realize that God knows your thoughts, your minds, your actions, your motives … your everything.  While the mold hid behind the drywall, it fooled us but it was still there, working its damage. Likewise, God is not deceived by outward appearances.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

2 Chronicles 16:9  These words were said to Asa, King of Judah, after he had sinned by consulting with a medium about an upcoming battle, rather than relying on God.  This was in direct violation of God’s command.  There are negative consequences to violating God’s laws.

David understood the ability of the Lord to see our actions:

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”

Psalm 34:15   Fortunately, there also are consequences to obeying God’s command, and these consequences lead to righteousness and a relationship with the Almighty God.

The writer of Proverbs, too, understood the all-encompassing knowledge of God, not just actions but motives and reasons, unspoken words and thoughts:

“For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.”

Proverbs 5:21

God’s omniscient knowledge of us is repeated in the New Testament by the half-brother of Jesus who said:

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.””

1 Peter 3:12

Believer, don’t harbor sin in your heart.  Confess your sin and repent of your actions.  You will be restored and the blot will be taken away … new boards will be erected and the new sheet rock will be unblemished.

Such is not the future of the wicked, however.   In the verses immediately after Proverbs 5:21 quoted above, we read:

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.  He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” – Proverbs 5:22-23

The remedy for sin in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. 

“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8-9

Don’t let the mold of sin ensnare you.  Confess your sin and repent, claim the Lord Jesus as your Savior, and you will be saved.

“The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!”

Psalm 22:26

Lord, I pray that the mold of sin, eating away at the fiber of our beings, will be purged by the blood of the Lamb, that sin would be eliminated from our lives and that Jesus would replace that rotten wood with clean firm resolve through the Holy Spirit working in our lives on a moment by moment basis.  Forgive us for our sin and cleanse us from all iniquity. In Christ’s holy name, I pray.

IS THIS WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE?

Have you ever seen something that just looked odd?  Like there was some inconsistency in what you were observing?

When we were on a trip recently, we were sitting in traffic when a mini-van pulled alongside of us.  The name on the … well, here is a picture of the vehicle:

Yellow cab in Virginia
The gray Yellow Cab.

In case you are not looking at this in color, the cab is gray.  The name is in black.  And, the name of the company is “Yellow Cab”.  [Please note, I am not in any way saying that the company is bad or that the driver of the cab was inconsiderate.  I am only commenting on the difference between the name and the color of the taxi.]

I started laughing and Bill then noticed the inconsistency and he, too, chuckled.  A discussion then ensued about why we were laughing – what made it funny. 

Obviously it was the inconsistency between the yellow in the name and the gray of the vehicle.  Yellow cabs, by definition, are yellow, at least that is what they usually are! 

That discussion then went into a discussion of how upset we are when we think something is one thing when, in fact, it is quite different. 

Christians are to be imitators of Christ. 

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

John 13:13-15 ESV

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35 ESV

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

“… For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people.  And in Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians.”

Acts 11:26 ESV

Disciples of our Lord are to follow Christ’s example and His commands; that is what the title Christian implies – we are followers of Christ.  And, His example at the Last Supper was that of being a servant to others, with the specific commandment that His disciples love one another, just as He had loved them.   Before ascending into heaven, He directed that the disciples were to make disciples, baptizing and teaching others.  In Acts, we read that the early church met together and did what Jesus directed, and they were first called Christians in Antioch.

So, service, love, teaching and obedience to our Lord are central characteristics of a Christian.   How does that fit with someone who puffs themselves up before others, and then belittles folks behind their back?  How does that fit with someone who refuses to participate in helping those in need?   How does that fit with someone to will not associate with other believers in church?

Jesus had something to say about those who say or do things for the wrong reasons:

“”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Matthew 23:23 ESV. 

The hypocrites arrogantly tithed absolutely everything, but they ignored those in need!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Matthew 23:25-28 ESV. 

From a spiritual perspective, the what is on the outside is irrelevant: it is the heart that matters.  The hypocrites looked good on the outside, but inside was a different story!

I thought about that gray yellow cab and wondered if that was a picture of me. 

When people hear me speak of my Lord and Savior, the outside identifies me as a Christian; but then when they hear me blast the restaurant server, do they still see me as a Christian?  When I drive my car, with its fish decal on the back representing me as a Christian, and then I cut someone off, is my driving witness consistent with what the decal affirms?  

In other words, is my witness inconsistent with my heart?  Do I look like one thing in actions and in words while the underlying heart condition is vastly different?

Am I really what I appear to be?  Are you?

Am I a gray yellow cab? 

Father, forgive me for the times that my actions are inconsistent with the message that You have directed me to present to others.  Forgive me when I am more like the hypocrites in Scripture than I am like the Christians who unashamedly presented Jesus Christ to all who came to them.  Give me strength and the ability to do Your will as You direct and empower.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 22, GENTLENESS part two

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 22

GENTLENESS – HUMILITY SHOWN IN MEEKNESS

PART TWO

What does Scripture say?

 Humility means putting God and other persons ahead of our own personal selfish interests. Humility comes with the knowledge that God’s creation as a whole transcends our own narrow interests.

 

Humility will cause an individual to wholly subject himself to God.  Even if God sends affliction or depressed circumstances, the humble person does not complain but expresses his gratitude for what God has decreed. The humble man says with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12

How does this apply to my daily life?

  •  The humble person lives by the Golden Rule.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Luke 6:31.

 

If we want to be loved, we must first give our love to others.  If we want to be respected, we must first give respect to all persons, most especially to those persons we do not like.  If we wish to be satisfied in our lives, we must first be generous toward others.

 

  • Gentleness/humility affects our talk, both with regard to attitude and topic. Scripture confirms this in numerous passages:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Proverbs 15:1-2

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

Matthew 12:35

 

More specifically, when it comes to our talk, gossip is an act of hostility intended to harm someone’s reputation. We must avoid the temptation to misrepresent someone’s character or actions even if we are covering those acts with “Bless her heart!”

 

  • Gentleness/humility also affects our speech and emotions in that the humble person will not respond in anger or revenge.

 

Instead of anger, the humble person’s reaction to life’s difficulties is understanding and empathy.  An understanding attitude will settle the dispute and avoid turning a minor issue into a major confrontation.  The humble demeanor is a perfect tool for avoiding disputes and hard feelings.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

When we respond to anger with empathy and love, we can break the cycle of hatred and transform even our enemies into friends. Jesus recognized this when he gave us the unique command to love even our enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:43-45

  • Certain characteristics can be found win the humble man or woman.

 

The humble man or woman avoids ambitious behavior.  She is not greedy for honor and does not desire to be above her neighbors.   She does not take upon herself that which does not belong to her as if the earth ought to be subject to her bidding. On the contrary, she gives all due deference to the judgment and desires of others.  Her behavior is consistent with Philippians 2:3:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”

 

The humble man or woman avoids ostentatious behavior. If she has any advantage, ability or benefit over her neighbors, she will not make a show of it.    In other words, she is not a Pharisee who, according to Jesus, did all their works to be seen of men.” Matt 23:5.

 

Rather, she knows that the impression others have of her is a small thing indeed.  She is content that the God in Heaven sees what was done and she desires that He approve of her efforts.

 

The humble man or woman will not express scornful or belittling behavior. Treating others with scorn and contempt is one of the most offensive manifestations of improper pride toward them.  The humble woman treats others with courtesy and friendliness – because she is aware of her own weakness before God, and she knows that it is God alone that makes her any different than others.

 

The humble will always have the spirit to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16) and this is true even if the person is in a position of public trust and honor.

 

The humble man or woman will not exhibit willful or stubborn behavior.  The humble man or woman will not be stiff and inflexible, and insist that everything must go according to what they happen first to propose.  Further, the humble person will not make all the difficulty they can so as to make others uneasy if they do not get their own way.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 

On the contrary, humility inclines men to have a yielding spirit to others, ready, for the sake of peace and to gratify others, to comply in many things with the desires of others, and to yield to their judgments when they are not inconsistent with truth and holiness.

 

A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause of his Lord and Master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is inflexible, because God and conscience require it.

 

The humble spirit is desired by God and should be sought by the Christian.  Peter said that this spirit is the richest of all ornaments:  “even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” 1 Peter 3:4.

 

We read in 1 Peter 5:5 that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”   Regarding this verse, Jonathan Edwards says that in the original language, this means God “sets Himself in battle array against him,”  In other words, the proud spirit is abhorrent to God!  I certainly do not want God to fight against me!

 

Jesus – our Lord and Savior said:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

Matthew 5:9.

 

Gentleness/ Humility is the ornament of the spirit, the source of some of the sweetest exercises of Christian experience, the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God, the subject of the richest of His promises, the spirit with which He will dwell on earth, and which He will crown with glory in heaven hereafter.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.