There is No Badge of Honor in Impatience

We are all inclined to view our intentions and even our weaknesses in the most favorable light. When we mess things up or hurt someone else by our choices, a common defense is “I didn’t mean to.” Frankly, that intention usually isn’t the point; the choice and results declare themselves and owning them is the mature response.

With that in mind, things that we think we intend or why we do what we do can be elusive. We may think we know what we meant, wanted, etc., but we will lie to ourselves and believe it. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

That passage isn’t about cardiac disease; it’s about the condition of our soul. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. Our mind, will and emotions are deceitful and lie among themselves beyond our understanding. We think we believe something (in our mind) but we choose to do things (our choices reflect our will) inconsistent with the values of those supposed beliefs.

Within that reality, the “fix” for our problems is sometimes not what we think. For instance, fear is not overcome with courage. Courage, in fact, is evidence of fear and the choice to do something despite the presence of fear. Fear is overcome with love. (“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18).

Similarly, I found recently, that the opposite of impatience is not patience, but the opposite of impatience is humility. Consider Ecclesiastes 7:8: “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

All too often we embrace our fears (e.g. fear of heights, dogs, etc.) and, likewise, often embrace our impatience. We will wear our impatience as almost a badge of honor. When asked about our weaknesses in a job interview, it is not uncommon to try to present a negative in a positive light.

According to the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, impatience is pride. It is the willful choice of rising up to take control. There is nothing to brag about in our fear nor our impatience. There is certainly nothing to boast about in our pride. When we think we have to resolve things because God hasn’t moved quickly enough in our circumstances so we elevate ourselves to small “g” god status since capital “G” God hasn’t met our expectations, we choose to sit on His throne. That never turns out well in the long run.

God, will you grant me humility enough to wait on you? In Jesus, name, Amen.

You Know Humility Isn’t Weakness, Right?

I got that little jewel handed to me thing morning. Through what has seemed like a battle that has lingered for decades, I’ve realized lately that I’ve been more focused on me than I would care to admit. I have admitted it, however, and the Lord is peeling it back for me to afford increase in the decrease.

Upon sharing with my wife, Julie, another perspective that Holy Spirit stirred related to pride generally and my pride specifically, she lovingly looked at me and offered, “you know humility isn’t weakness, right?” Seriously, it was so sweet and caring and clearly for my best interests that it was incredibly easy to receive.

First knee-jerk reaction was internally something like, “well of course I do.” Within a split second or two, however, I realized that I have put humility and weakness hand in hand. Weakness isn’t an appealing characteristic for me and I don’t suspect it is for most of us. Men may be particularly adverse to the idea of allowing for weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

By the way; I looked it up . . . “weakness” in that passage means weakness. It means a lack of capacity either in physical terms or in the character of our soul. But that same passage promises perfection and power by way of Christ without the limitations of my body or soul.

Here is what I learned in the past about pride; it isn’t reflective of a strength, but of an insecurity. Pride is self-promotion and the only time that is necessary is when we don’t feel promoted otherwise. So humility is actually a strength as it reflects the realization that, in Christ, we are perfected and empowered. Julie is right; humility isn’t weakness; it is actually strength. The security of knowing your limitations invites the grace of Jesus.

Today I choose to be strong and admit that I am weak. I choose to rest more in His grace than I do in my ability. I welcome His power where my efforts are otherwise limited. You’re invited.

We All Want to Preach

We all want to preach because it’s easier than the real deal. We want to have it figured out and tell others the answers. We want to master the incomprehensible so that we can control the limited reflection of eternity we have wrestled into our inadequate perspective. Then we can’t fail because we figured out the rules, keep them and tell others what they are and how to follow them.

The difference between preachy church goers and social media proclaiming of various political and social perspectives is the misuse of authority. That is, those that want to preach what they claim and hope to be eternal truth use the Bible to justify their vague understanding. Present company included.

At the same time, as an audience we want someone to have it figured out. If we can read a book, hear a sermon, attend a seminar or digest some other form of secondary understanding, we won’t have to allow the Source to examine us to produce intimate understanding. That is, if we can “be fed” by someone, we can avoid the hunt.

The net result is a Christian culture of pontificating which entertains heresy in order to foster freshness. A specific and untapped niche for the advancement of a platform is valued above the transformation available to us personally or others uniquely. Finding the place from which we can be heard to “help people” understand and do what is good and right is the controllable and satisfying place of ministry malpractice.

If we gain some understanding of the Word, it is not God’s way of giving us a ministry; it is His grace offering to transform us personally. He will do the same for others, but they will have to go to the same Source for the same introspective examination of their soul. The Word is an invitation into knowing God, not fodder for a sermon.

When we truly know Him in the glimpses we can handle of Him, we are undone. The paradox of His might and His mercy becomes an endearing and transformative catalyst for our growth. The deepest understanding of HIs Word often leaves us speechless and sometimes in tears; completely undone as we realize our own humanity compared to His magnificent Divinity.

Ministry, then, is to afford others the same. It is an invitation into the search which produces intimacy with Him and not impressions of us. Our messages, preaching, blogs, programs should simply hope to tell only of our lack to afford His glory to be evident. It’s His glory that carries the message that people need to hear.

Truth Produces Security and Security Fosters Humility

One thing common to us all is insecurities. They pop up all the time in various forms and are often revealed as we are introduced to new social or professional situations. As we look to determine our place in the new setting, the fears of rejection, inadequacy, failure, etc. surface. Two things that are evident when insecurity is stirred: 1) it is an opportunity to grow, and 2) the answer is beyond the confines of its origin.

The opportunity to grow is by way of redemption. The revelation of the insecurity is a gift as we then have an opportunity to exchange it for security. Every time a new or familiar insecurity surfaces, we are able to exchange it for our identity in Christ. That insecurity is doubt related to your place and your place is in Him. It is the fear of an orphan, yet in Christ you are a child of the Father.

When the fear of insecurity bubbles up, the need is love. The Father’s love casts out fear so to connect to the Father, ask Holy Spirit to remind you that you are a child of His (since you’ve apparently forgotten). “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

The confidence you and I are in need in order to operate and relate from our identity is is found in the Word of God. Our human limitations can be offset by the eternal truth of the Word. We go to the Bible for the Truth and stand there. Standing there without compromise provides the security of a fixed point. It takes our inadequacies out of the equation and depends on the righteousness and faithfulness of Christ.

The Word is a fixed and secure place to stand. Security produces humility (vs. insecurity fostering pride). When standing in our identity on His truth, we will be free from any need to compare or compete and we will enjoy the peace that is beyond us. There will be no need to argue or self-promote as we stand in the security of identity and truth.

Humble children of God saved by a Righteous King present invitations to eternal relationship that are appealing. Insecure orphans in religion thinking they have to prove themselves right and others wrong simply and pridefully push others further away.

The Foundation of Faith

It’s easy to forget the most important thing and move on to other things. The foundation of the context of our understanding can be taken for granted as focus shifts from design to decoration. How many times have you stopped to admire or even appreciate the concrete foundation of your home? More than likely, it is the paint, flooring, appliances and window dressing that are the focus.

The foundation of our faith is grace. Nothing in the New Covenant works for you as you work it out without an ongoing appreciation for the foundation of the grace of Jesus.

The breath you breath; literally, figuratively, physically and spiritually is only available by grace. Grace got you saved as the death and resurrection of Jesus provided your new birth and provides the resurrection of your soul. It’s His grace that saved you and now it’s His grace that transforms you.

Without a constant focus on the foundation of grace, you and I are going to think it’s about us. Our works, disciplines, ministries, knowledge, attendance, giving or some other decorative additions. Those things are nice and they can be upgrades to the previous structure, but they are secondary to and dependent on grace.

Without the ongoing and urgent embrace of grace, the Righteousness of Christ afforded to us is overlooked for our self-righteousness. We get excited about how good we are at the expense of realizing how Holy is He that lives within us.

You’ll be able to tell when you forget about the foundation if and when you find yourself full of opinions related to the decorative presentations of others. When your approval of them depends on the aesthetics of their extras (good or bad), you don’t see the Righteousness of Christ available to them as the same foundation you have required. The way you see others reflects the way you see yourself.

Mature Masculinity From a Surprising Source

The question of toxic masculinity has received plenty of  attention recently and I took an initial shot at examining the idea a couple of weeks ago here. Not too long after writing that, layers continued to be revealed as I dug deeper into what it was and what it wasn’t.

Along the way, I heard my friend Todd McIntyre teach on masculinity and where he took us blew me away. He went to one of the more unlikely sources I would have imagined. He went to 1 Corinthians 13; otherwise known as “the love chapter.” How in the world was the idea of love from a passage that is typically quoted at weddings going to illustrate or unpack a picture of healthy or true masculinity?

Verse 11, that’s how. Specifically, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit was writing on love and plopped this verse right in the middle of lovey-dovey stuff. He taught on love and wrapped it up with maturity. Specifically, he wrapped it up with mature masculinity (although it is equally applicable by either gender) as he specified that he had become a “man.” A mature man loves in a way that is consistent with the first 10 verses of that chapter. In other words, a mature man:

  • Submits his gifts and abilities to others through love
  • Is patient
  • Is kind
  • Doesn’t boast and isn’t proud
  • Honors others
  • Is selfless
  • Doesn’t act in anger easily
  • Doesn’t keep track of rights and wrongs (is graceful)
  • Rejects evil and rejoices in truth
  • Always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres

That eternal description of mature manhood puts me in a place of repentance. I need to change my mind. I need to grow up. All too often, my thoughts, feelings and/or choices reflect immature love more than they do mature masculinity. All too often, I need the grace of Jesus that comes in the wake of my repentance to heal, deliver, restore and repair my broken, wounded and incomplete soul. Then I can reflect His manhood and not rely on my toxic and temporal efforts.