Way Too Easy

Have you ever told someone the truth to have them reply, “You liar!”? Those are serious, relationship-killing words. 

Surely none of us would purposefully call our God, the Almighty God, the God of truth, a liar. However, please consider the possibility that we have, and that it might not be a rare occurrence for many. Frankly, that is scary, and it should bring fear and terror to our hearts. Then, how could Israel have done it at least 10 times? 

“Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice” (Numbers 14:22). Tempted is defined as “to test and prove.” In essence, they questioned whether God was good (does good and fulfills His promises) by not believing and obeying Him.

Oh, my brothers, EVERYTHING that God does and brings into our lives is ultimately good. We trust and believe it to be for His glory and our good in Him, and then we obey.

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20-21).

Grace Wrongly Applied

If you share Christ regularly, you come to the awareness of how many “good” people there are in this world. Most tell me confidently either they are a good person, or they do good things. They go on to say that God is loving, and He will take all their good works into consideration when they want to go to heaven. Yet, believers who read their Bibles know God has a different standard and does not grade on the curve. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

Similarly (but not a matter of Heaven or Hell), I’ve found when talking with professing believers, making worldly choices, they don’t say, “I’m worldly, and I like it that way.” They usually say “I’m free in Christ. He paid for my sin, and I am accepted in His blood. I walk in grace.” Our position in Christ is one thing, yet God has called us to seek a holy life while on earth. 

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

(Strongs: “holy” sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated): — (most) holy (one, thing), saint.)

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). 

May we examine our lives and live for Christ, separate in a godless, God-rejecting world. 

What is the Difference?

Consider two Christians who both do the exact same things:
Reads his Bible and prays everyday Reads his Bible and prays everyday
Goes to church 3 times a week Goes to church 3 times a week
Doesn’t drink alcohol Doesn’t drink alcohol
Doesn’t do x, y, and z Doesn’t do x, y, and z
On and on …. On and on ….

Which one is the legalist? Since Scripture doesn’t use the term legalist, but it is commonly used among professing Christians, we ought to clarify our definition of legalism used here in context. Perhaps it would be fair to say the legalist is the one who makes those choices to look good to others and/or earn favor with God. The other man, who does the exact same things as the legalist, makes his choices out of love for his Lord Jesus and the desire to please Him. The legalist serves himself and the other his God. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). 

The difference between the two is not seen in actions but in heart motives. The Lord knows which it is because He looks at the heart of man. The legalist is self-centered while the other, who seeks to please God, is God-centered. The legalist does good things or restricts himself from the world to earn praise from God or others. Obviously, no one other than the Lord can know the motives of a man’s heart. “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28). 

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Jesus said, “…follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). 

Brothers, may we follow Him to please Him, because we love Him Who died for us.

How Long Does Character Growth Take?

Are you ever disheartened because your children aren’t making the progress you desire, particularly in an area of godly character growth? Does this sometimes cause you to want to give up on it? I remember working with our five younger children on responding to directions with a simple “Yes, Ma’am” or “No. Ma’am.” There had been too many situations where I didn’t know if a child was disobedient or simply hadn’t heard what he was to do. Would you believe it took a year and a half of focusing on that for them to learn to consistently respond? 

Does a year and a half sound like a long time to learn to say, “Yes, Ma’am?” It sure did to me! That experience brought me a new perspective on the reality of what character teaching really meant! It might take weeks, months, and even years.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Therefore, we are to be obedient and consistent in teaching our children the ways of the Lord. We instruct, disciple, discipline, encourage, and praise. We pray diligently concerning the specific areas we are working toward. However, the results are not ours! They are the Lord’s, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Whether it takes a week, a month, a year, or ten years does not matter. 

How freeing this should be for you, as a mom. You do not shoulder the responsibility for the outcome. On the other hand, remaining consistent in the teaching is tremendous. It can become wearisome, at times, if your eyes come off the Lord and onto yourself. Galatians 6:9 is a familiar verse that says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Might we agree on the importance of our children going in godly character?

It should not be surprising that it would take children time to develop godly character. Consider  your own personal struggles with character as an adult. For example, how often do you respond to your children with a slight tone of irritation in your voice? Is that the way you want to answer them? Have you prayed and worked toward not letting this happen? Do you still do it?

Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” If, “by reason of use,” we come to discern both good and evil, it makes sense to me that “by reason of use” is also an integral part of learning to do good. “Character” doesn’t happen overnight!

Expect the development of godly character to be a long,, ongoing process worthy of the pouring out of your very life! Don’t look at the short-range progress but at the long-term goals. Set your heart, prayers, and consistent teaching on the Lord’s desire for your child to grow in Christ-likeness. Then patiently, day by day, teach, train, and love your children toward their character growth, knowing that the Lord Who has called you is faithful. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23).

What about you? Have you been discouraged lately over a lack of character growth in your children? Have you become weary in your well doing? May I encourage you to step back, take a deep breath, lift your heart to the Lord, and continue on. Be ready for the long haul, not looking for immediate results but trusting the Lord to accomplish His will. 


Not a Legalist!

Have you ever had a conversation with a Christian and at some point you ask, “Do you read your Bible every day?” 

He replies, “No, I’m not a legalist about it.” What do you say in response to him?

What about you? Maybe you don’t read your Bible and pray every day because you don’t want to be a legalist. You think, “The Bible doesn’t command us to read our Bible every day. I might be a legalist if I did.” 

Give it some thought. Continued next week. 

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).