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September/October 2017 Archives

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This month's theme:
 
Perspective

There are some of God's creations we don't paid much attention to - the moth is one of them. After all, they usually aren't as colorful as butterflies and when was the last time you heard a nice little spring poem about a moth?!

Look at the photo of the moth at the top of the page. What do you see? Do you see design and beauty? Do you see interesting shapes? How about that brown outline and fringe around his wings - pretty, huh? I would say just as pretty as a butterfly.

What changed our perspective of the moth? Taking away our bias and examining it more closely, we began to see beauty. The sunlight also helped us to see patterns and designs we may not have seen if the moth had been in the shadows. Instead of it being "just a moth," it became a beautiful creation of God.  

In our lives we create our own perspective about ourselves, about others, and, most importantly, about God. The problem with this is, we have our own bias', likes and dislikes, fears, and a number of feelings and emotions that affect our view of ourselves, others, and God. This often results in the wrong perspectives which we end up believing as truth, but this "truth" has been hidden in self-deceit.

Truth isn't talked about near as much as it should be. We may speak of the Truth of God in "doctrinal issues in the church," but the Truth of God is to be lived 24 hours a day, every day, throughout our lifetime. It is the Truth God has revealed about Himself, and us, and how we should see others. The Holy Spirit in the word of God tells us how to have the right perspective on all things involved in our lives.

In this issue of Our Hope we will talk about our perspective of God, others, and self. There is so much to say on these things and I've only touched a small part it. A comment box is provided at the end of each page if you'd like to add more thoughts to the ones I've written or expand on them.

If we will strive to see through our Lord's perspective, our lives will be far less complicated and confusing. Instead of wasting our thoughts and energy on self-deceit, we can see clearly with the light of the Lord shining in us and showing the brilliant design of the Creator. 

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God - The right perspective.
 
 

HOW MANY OF THESE IDEAS ABOUT GOD ARE TRUE? 

Hell doesn't exist. God is too loving to punish.

God gave me a sick newborn because He knew I could handle it. 

God doesn't care or He would change my circumstance.

God is the Creator, not evolution. 

God controls my every thought and action.

Everything that happens on earth is God's will.

God is the giver of good gifts. 

God doesn't care what I believe, He only wants me to believe in Jesus.

God doesn't understand.

God is just. Good will get its reward, evil will not go unpunished. 

God told me to go there.

God took my loved one from me because He needed more angels. 

Are there any statements on this list absolutely true?

Are there any statements absolutely false? 

Were there any "I don't know, but that's what I believe."  

 

 

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR ANSWER?

 Did God give you ideas about Himself through personal revelation?

Did God reveal Himself through the Holy Spirit in His word?

Are you an expert on God and whatever you want to believe about Him, that is the truth?

Do you base your beliefs on what you see in this world with your eyes?

Do your beliefs stem from statements your preacher or your parents taught you? 

Is there someone you admire greatly because he/she is such a righteous individual that what they think about God must be right and their thoughts become yours?

Do you believe a "truth" about God because the church of Christ overall teaches it to be the standard of truth because that's what the college or foundation has taught as a fact when there is no clear scripture to back it up? 

 

 

DOES IT MATTER WHAT WE BELIEVE AS LONG AS ITS GOOD?

First of all, who are we to judge what is good apart from what the Holy Spirit tells us about God? Adding to what is revealed about God or taking away from that is just our opinion, nothing more. 

Yes, it does matter. Here's why: 

It is important to believe what is revealed about God because we live our lives in accordance to what we believe.

If we don't know God's love we will not know how to love others.

If we don't know God's wisdom, we may end up misjudging God as Job did.

If we don't know God's instruction, our lives will end up miserable.

If we don't know God keeps His promises, we will not trust Him. 

If we don't know God justice, we may be tempted with "doing evil so grace may abound."

If we don't know God's anger we will think nothing of turning away from Him.

If we don't know God's grace, we may be overwhelmed with our own sins and be despondent.

If we don't know God's salvation, we will remain a slave to sin. 

 

 

HOW DO WE KNOW GOD?

Not long ago, I read a philosopher's writings about how we can know truth. His truth was that all truth comes from within, balanced with experience. A response to his writing disagreed and said all we need to know about truth comes from observing nature. As disciples of Christ we may roll our eyes and say how foolish this sounds, but sometimes, we get caught up in these beliefs ourselves whenever we can't explain something or if we're in a situation where we want to believe a certain way because we don't like the alternative.

The truth about God and all truth is only known by what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the word of God. The Bible does tell us we can know that God exists and see the wisdom and power of God in His creation. Outside of these, it is guesswork and we must be very careful when we get into the realm of our own thinking, apart from what the Bible says.  If you don't understand the danger of this, read the entire book of Job and see what God thinks of His people coming up with their own ideas about Him. God knows that when His creatures come up with their own ideas of truth they will get into trouble because emotions and desires soon become their "truth."

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Whatever happens to you in life, from the best times to the worst and back again, always remember all of God's attributes as revealed by God Himself in His word and in His creation.

God is love and His love is balanced with justice, righteousness, and wisdom. Instead of contradicting each other, these characteristics balance each other and work together - none are left out.

If your view of God doesn't include these 4 attributes, then your thinking is wrong and you'll get in trouble whether you are prospering or in the midst of great loss.

Knowing God's balance, keeps us balanced. 

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Rather than fitting God into our circumstance, we should fit our circumstance into what is revealed about God.

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What is your perspective of suffering compared to God's perspective? 

Pray That I Won't Waste All This Suffering

Kenny Chumbley

It is important to distinguish between suffering and punishment. In Luke 23:39–41, a thief said of himself and another, "We receive the due reward of our deeds," but of Christ he said, "this man hath done nothing amiss." All of the crucified were dying the same horrible death, but there was something qualitatively different about their traumas—while two were in agony as punishment for their crimes, one was in anguish despite his innocence. Evil visited upon the innocent is what I mean by suffering. It is hurt that "cannot be traced to ourselves" (C. S. Lewis), which can result from moral (Luke 13:2) and natural (Luke 13:4) causes. It is such hurt—such suffering—that is behind the worst of our perplexity and distress. It is such suffering that causes us to ask why (Matt. 27.46). And it is with regard to such suffering that we most struggle to find a balanced response.

Denominational author Warren Wiersbe tells about a family friend who was hit with serious trouble. Her husband had gone blind and had then come down with an incurable disease. While trying to deal with this crisis, she had a stroke that forced her to retire from her job. Although they had many friends, they had no children. One day while visiting, Wiersbe sought to encourage her by saying, "I want you to know that we're praying for you." In response she said, "I appreciate that, but what are you praying for God to do?" This caught Wiersbe off-guard, as he had never been asked this question before. Trying to come up with an intelligent response, he said that he prayed for her healing and strength, and for mercy to deal with her pain. To this she replied, "Thank you, but please pray for one more request. Pray that I won't waste all of this suffering."

When I read this it hit me right between the eyes. In seeing her problems as an opportunity, this lady had a perspective on suffering that is thoroughly biblical, but is one, I'm ashamed to say, I have too often lacked.

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 says something important here. On three occasions Paul prayed that his thorn in the flesh (a metaphor for his suffering) be removed (ironically, not only was Paul's suffering not traceable to himself, but resulted from a blessing given him by God [12:1– 4,7]). The Lord's answer to this was, "My grace is sufficient for thee." It is my opinion that Paul's thorn (12:7) and Christ's grace (12:9) here refer to the same thing. This wasn't a case where Paul was suffering, he prayed about it, and although the Lord didn't remove his suffering, He did send him some sort of blessing (grace) that made his suffering bearable. No, I believe the Lord is telling Paul that his thorn in the flesh was a manifestation of His grace! What Paul called a grievance, the Lord called a gift. What Paul saw as something the Lord needed to remove, the Lord saw as something Paul needed to receive.

Christ's answer put Paul's problems in a radically different light. And when Paul saw them in this light, and learned that his suffering was, rightly understood, grace from his Lord (which, among other things, was meant to keep him from soul-destroying pride, 12:7), he started viewing his problems as something not to be wasted—and his pleading turned into praise (12:9–10).

In the book The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis makes two points that are worth passing along. First, if God is truly wiser than we, it follows that His judgment may differ from ours on many things, so that what seems good to us may not seem good to Him and what seems bad to us may not seem bad to Him at all (37). Second, given God's wisdom, we should never doubt that when there is a discrepancy between Him and us concerning what is best for us, what He thinks and determines is always in our best interest (39).

If we can just wrap our heads and hearts around such things, maybe we'll learn what a waste it is to waste suffering.

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Leaving it up to man's interpretation of what can't be seen with the eye, is meaningless and dangerous. To obtain all of God's promises of salvation, comfort, and protection we need to see what the Holy Spirit has revealed about God and leave it at that.

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
'Oh my! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!'

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: 'Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!'

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, 'I see,' quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!'

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
'What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,' quoth he;
'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.'

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; 'E'en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!'

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
'I see,' quothe he, 'the elephant is very like a rope!'

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen! 

John Godfrey Saxe

 

Consider the goodness and severity of God

Many want to view God as an indulgent parent who only wants to make His children happy. They want to skip over or soften the scriptures that speak of God's discipline, firmness, and even severity. For some reason they think this takes away from God's love.

Have you witnessed a child with indulgent parents who gave them whatever they wanted except discipline? Have you seen parents who give what is good for their child, including needed, reasonable discipline? Which do you consider more loving? Which child is going to grow up more balanced with more maturity? 

Do we need to see God's severity, as well as His love? Is this a contradiction?

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Rom 11:22)

What good does it do to see both the goodness and severity of God?

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The right perspective: Others
 
 

 

(Love your neighbor as yourself.) 

Who is My Neighbor?

(Luke 10:25-37) 

Why is it I've heard the story of the good Samaritan since I was a young child and I still forget the answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Often, my perspective of who a neighbor is, is forgotten. I wave to my next door neighbor as I leave the house and head out into the world without a thought that I'm about to be surrounded by neighbors. I get content with thinking I'm a good neighbor because I'm friendly, helpful, and not difficult to live next door to. My perspective of who  my neighbor is, is wrong.

The word, "neighbor," in the Greek means a fellow who is close at hand  and it is this definition that Jesus tells us to take literally on a daily basis, anytime, anywhere. We are not leaving our neighbors to go out into the world, we are leaving our neighbor to go be with other neighbors who don't happen to live nearby. When there is an opportunity to help these neighbors, we should, just like I would help my next door neighbor. (Of course using wisdom as these neighbors are strangers to us.)

In the story of the good Samaritan if the lawyer had answered the question, "Who is my neighbor?", his response, most likely, would have been, "My neighbor is a righteous Jew," (and purified ones, not half-dead). 

However the Samaritan had a different perspective of who a neighbor is because he had compassion. True compassion emcompasses all who are suffering. He didn't care if the one robbed and beaten was a Jew, Gentile, or Samaritan. Compassion doens't look at race, status, outward appearance, age, or if the person is a believer in God or not.

Having the right perpective of who is a neighbor means we see a "fellow nearby" who needs care in whatever form and we are willing to help. Jesus removed the limit of space in His perspective of what a neighbor is.

 

Your Neighbor

Marty Pickup 

You may or may not know me by name. I'm the guy who works the same shift at the plant. I'm the woman who sat at a nearby table the other day at the doughnut shop. I'm the grease-stained mechanic who periodically works on your car. I'm the old man who walks his dog past your house every morning. I'm the teenage hot-rod who cut in front of you on the freeway yesterday, and then glared back in disgust as if it was your fault. I'm the feeble old lady who lives in seclusion in her house down the street. I'm that obnoxious beer guzzler you had to sit by at last night's baseball game, whose loud mouth you endured through extra innings.

No, I'm not a Christian. I'm just your neighbor.

You might not like the way I live or the way I act. As I see it, a little dishonesty now and then is natural, even necessary. I can use profanity as well as anyone, and I don't mind proving it on occasion. I think that happiness in life depends on what you have, what you can get, or what you can accomplish. My life is centered totally around self. Isn't everybody's? Maybe God is up there, but I'm not concerned with him. If he has any concern for me, why did he take away my loved ones? I suppose religion is fine for some people, if that's what they want. But I think those fanatics who let it control their lives are fools. Life is too short, there are too many problems, there's too much pain. Why should I burden myself with something so restricting? And yet, no matter how hard I try, I don't ever seem to be able to find the happiness I'm looking for. I don't understand why.

I'm not a Christian; I'm just your neighbor.

You can see what my problem is even though I can't. My concepts of God, morality, and true happiness are distorted. I've misunderstood the purpose for my being here. I don't see sin for what it really is, a crime against my Maker and a cruel oppressor that holds me captive. And I don't realize that eternal punishment is only a heartbeat away. But you understand all this. Will you allow me to continue in my ignorance without even lifting a finger to help? Isn't there anything you can do?

Perhaps if you'd show me some kindness even when I don't deserve it. Strike up a friendly conversation, show an interest in me. And don't be afraid to mention God or morality. Yes, I'll probably think you're a little strange at first but don't you see I need help in thinking about such matters. If left up to me those things would rarely enter my mind. Show to me the joyfulness that you say accompanies one who serves God. Let me see that there really are some people who have found contentment in life. Prove to me that total dedication to Christ lifts a man's burdens instead of becoming an additional one.

But don't stop there. Invite me to come to worship with you. Ask me to come join you in a Bible study. If I say "no" at first, don't give up on me. Tell me about God's plan of salvation; teach me those noble truths that you know so well. Above all, be patient with me. Don't become easily frustrated when those passages so clear to you do not appear so to me. Slowly and gently remove the scales of denominational religion from my eyes. Help me to be what I should be. Help me so that my soul can be saved too.

You may or may not know me by name, but I'll tell you who I am. I'm one who was going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell among thieves. I was stripped, I was beaten, and I was left halfdead. Some have already seen me, and yet have passed me by. I'm not a Christian. Won't you please be my neighbor?

Two Kinds of People

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Two kinds of people, no more, I say.
Not the good or the bad, for 'tis well understood,
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man's wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life's busy span
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world's masses
Are ever divided into these two classes.
And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I wean,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

This one question I ask. Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labor and care?

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The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart and test the mind. (Jer 17:9-10)

SELFDECEIT.jpg

We don't read about a lack of self-esteem in the Bible because mankind's problem is not a lack of self-esteem, but the real problem is that we humans think too much of ourselves - from hating ourselves and thinking we are not good for anything to putting ourselves on a pedestal to the point of narcissism and everything in between. What do I need? What do I want? What's wrong with me? What's right with me? I don't measure up. They don't measure up to me. I'm unfulfilled. I don't have as much as they do. I'm lacking. I deserve more. I'm the lowest of the low.

I - II!

Why in the world would the Holy Spirit remind us to focus more on self when we do such a good job of that ourselves? 

SELF-DEPRECATION 

Insecurity is a distorted self-love  - it's self-focused and self-absorbing 

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"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all." c.s.lewis

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A humble person isn't thinking about self, she is engaging in the conversation and in thoughts of others. 

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"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (Mat 22:36-37)

Love the Lord "with all your mind." If our mind is continually filled with self-analyzing or self-gratification, how much room is left for thoughts about the Lord?

And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' (Mat 22:39)

Continual thoughts on self leave no room for the Lord or for our neighbor. 

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When we feel insecure about ourselves we may be tempted to  feel pressure to conform to the expectations of others and fear criticism and being unliked. While we may have a strong faith where we believe we will not "fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28), we may not be as strong as we think if we allow someone's comment to crush us because they didn't see things our way. 
 
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Feel too shy about talking to someone who you think has it all together? (Believe me, they don't - no one does.) Are you so afraid you will say the wrong thing to someone who needs encouragement, you remain quiet? Do you want to only talk to those you are use to and not go through the "stress" of meeting someone new? Do you pick and choose the smart, the wise, the wealthy, the popular, and the likable to befriend and talk to in order to build up your own feelings of self-worth?

If your perspective of your self depends on who you do or don't associate with, then you lack love. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love," (1Jn 4:18). 

Fear of others, whether it be in worry you don't measure up or in concern you must be surrounded by those you put on a pedestal in order for you, yourself to measure up carries a lack of love. If you fear strong, confident personalities you aren't loving the person enough - you are only being fearful of yourself. If you dismiss those who you believe who are beneath you and cater to those you will make you look good, you aren't loving either group - one, you don't want anything to do with and the other, you are just using.  

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"You can't love others unless you love yourself."

Baloney!  Forget that nonsense. The truth is, You can't love others unless you love Christ and keep your mind on Him and others, instead of yourself."

~~~ 

"One of my main regrets in life is giving considerable thought to inconsiderate people." 

SELF-CONCEIT

Pride is a deceiver: The pride of your heart has deceived you. Obadiah 1:3 

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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2)

Do you feel the need to conform to others (even to sisters in Christ) in dress, in material goods, in personality, in likes and dislikes? Renew your mind. Understand just because the majority are of one way, doesn't make it right or even good for you. Prove what is good and acceptable to God's will and conform to Christ. 

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"But the serpent deceived me!"

(The world changed because of self-conceit) 

The serpent indeed deceived Eve (2 Cor. 11:3), but how was he able to do so? He gave her just enough truth to make disobedience disirable and tempted her to focus on her self and her importance (Gen. 3:5). Satan deviated her thoughts from God and His will, to thoughts on self, even to the point of using her husband to satisfy her self-indulgence. 

The perfection of creation broke due to self-conceit. Eve focused on self and how to fulfill her desires of her body as well as believing she could elevate her wisdom to that of God's.  "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate." (Gen 3:6)

~~~ 

Don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”  ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 
~~~  

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us--and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! (1Cor 4:6-8)
 
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Not everyone who is filled with pride has a narcissist or histrionic personality. These personalities go to an extreme to where others will have a difficult time believing the experiences you have with them because they can go way beyond normal reactions. If you live with someone who has these personality disorders or if you deal with them, you may find this website helpful. I don't know who owns the site but instead of giving practical lessons on every day living, the writer gives scripture that helps you deal with your own hurt spirit. Someone who has these personalities has a great sense of vengeance in them and if you upset them, you will pay.
 
https://biblicalperspectivesonnarcissism.com/
 
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A narcissist paints the picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people's true colors.

 

 

Think Soberly. Rom. 12:3  

 (To be of sound mind/To be in the right mind.)

Which woman is thinking soberly? 

 

I'm better than you.
  • I have more, materially.
  • I look better than you.
  • I talk better than you.
  • I know more scripture than you.
  • I understand life more than you.
  • I'm more popular than you.
  • I have a well recognized name in the "brotherhood."
  • I'm definitely more righteous than you. 

You are better than me.
  • You have more, materially. I'm embarrassed about my clothes and house.
  • You look better than me. I feel ashamed.
  • You talk better than me. I'm going to stay quiet so I won't say something stupid.
  • You know more scripture than me so you must be a better person.
  • You understand life more than I do because you've had a much more exciting life.
  • You are more popular than me. I want to be part of your group but I'm below your standard so I'll keep to myself. 
  • You have a well recognized name in the "brotherhood," so you must be a stronger Christian.
  • You must be more righteous than me since you know more scripture, have more experience, and are well known in the church.

 
   
 

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Rom 12:3)

Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. (Exo 4:10-14)
 

If most of our thoughts are on ourselves, we are in danger. If we are worrying about ourselves, cutting ourselves down, living in fear of how we can relate to others, then we aren't thinking soberly - we aren't being rational. We deceive ourselves when we tell ourselves we don't have ability and worth. The more we tell ourselves how worthless we are, the more we will believe it. Satan has accomplished his work.

If we enjoy thinking about ourselves and how great we are, we are wrong. If our thoughts are filled with believing we are more wise, more beautiful, more popular, more socially accepted than those around us and that we are somehow on a higher plane, we have fallen into self-deceit. Our thoughts are not sound and Satan has taken control.

So how can we get out of the self-deception of self-deprecation and self-conceit? There is an overwhelming amount of spiritual exercises contained in scripture to help us, but for now, we will seek help in Romans 12:

1. Renew our minds. Think soberly. (Rom. 12:2)  Have a good self examination. Take away all pretense. This is very difficult to do when we have spent a lifetime hiding our true thoughts. We don't come out plainly and tell ourselves we are better or we are worse because we know we shouldn't think that way. We cover up our true thoughts about ourselves by allowing feelings to repress what we know to be wrong thinking. If we are thinking highly of ourselves it makes us feel good and we like being happy. We don't admit we are better, but our actions will prove that.

On the other hand, if we are demeaning ourselves when we shouldn't, after a while, it becomes a habit we actually seek. We begin to excuse bad thoughts about others and bad behavior within ourselves. We soothe our woes by trying to build ourselves up in ways that are not sound thinking as we look for faults in those we believe are better than us. We don't admit we do that, but our actions will prove we do.  

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. (2Co 13:5-6)
 

If we truly know and understand Jesus Christ is in us, why would we put ourselves higher than others when our Lord washed sinner's feet? Jesus, Himself, has called us brothers and sisters when we all are so weak and vile! Are we greater than our Lord?! Do we have the right to push people away that have less than we do? The next time we are with a sister who doesn't quite come up to par with our standard of living or perhaps she isn't as funny, as cute, as personable as we like to hang out with - go to God in your spirit and tell Him you choose not to speak to this person because you are better than her. Tell your Father you want to be entertained and have a good time so you will seek your own kind. How well do you think that will go over with God?

If we truly know and understand Jesus Christ is in us, why would we put ourselves down or someone else just because someone has more than we do? Who had less than Jesus?! He gave up heaven for us and His Father called Him worthy. Have we less than what Jesus had? He had no where to lay His head! The next time you are with a sister that has plenty of material goods and you believe she has it all together, go to God in your spirit and tell Him you choose not to speak with this woman. She has enough - she doesn't need your friendship or your encouragement. How well do you think that will go over with God? How did our Lord treat the rich young ruler?

If we understand and desire Christ to be in us, we must think as Christ and see ourselves honestly. When we do, all of us fall into the rational place of equality in Christ.

2. Pray for help. Pray to be self-aware and then to empty ourselves in Christ. Pray for self-control in our thinking - to quit thinking about ourselves, except in the area of good, honest self-examination.

3 Quit comparing ourselves to others. Of course others will have more. Some will have less. Material goods and knowledge isn't the measuring tool of our lives - God's word is. Comparing ourselves to Christ, not just in action, but in real thinking, without self-deceit, is the key.

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2Co 10:12)

4. Strive to become a servant of God's: Holy and sacrificial. (Rom. 12:1) We must be careful in our service to others. If we are thinking of ourselves too highly, we will be tempted to think we are doing our good deed to the less fortunate and we will be giving ourselves an even bigger pat on the back. This is especially true and obvious to the "less fortunate" when we have the attitude that we are so good because we are actually allowing them to be in our company. They know and can see plainly that our act of giving (in whatever form) is a demeaning act and not an action of true love.

On the other hand, if we have less and undermine ourselves, we will may not give (in any form) to those who have more because we believe they don't deserve it and are already full or the giving love we should have for them has been replaced with envy and judgment.

5. Quit conforming to the world! (Rom. 12:2) 

So what if you got nice things! So what if you're pretty and popular! 

So what if you don't have much! So what if you're not the pretty, popular one!

The Lord sets the standard, not the world. If you try and measure up to the world your entire life will be miserable. However, if you try and measure up to Christ, while we know we can't fully do so as He was perfect, the striving for completeness in Christ will bring joy, and the pressure of conforming will go away. Contentment will come, but most importantly, love will come. Rather than constantly comparing yourself to others, you will learn to appreciate them, knowing that physical gain or lack of such, doesn't matter in the world the Father created.

6.Transform into the mind of Christ.

How did Jesus think about Himself? Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Php 2:4-8)

What did Jesus think about material goods? "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:19-21)

What did Jesus think about appearance? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Mat 6:27) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Mat 23:27-28)

What were Jesus' thoughts about being different from those around you? "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. (Mat 7:13) If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (Joh 15:18-19)

7. Love without hypocrisy, knowing we are members of one body with different functions.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (Rom 12:9-10)

If we don't like a sister because we feel envious every time we see her, we are not loving her. If we are "kind" to the sister we consider lowly and feel like she's blessed because she actually received recognition from us, we are not loving her. 

"In honor giving preference to one another." What does that mean? Let's think about it. If you'd like to respond, please submit your thoughts here: 

 

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The Cure for Self-Deceit: Look to Christ

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:22

“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Lk 6:46

We sit and absorb knowledge. The more we absorb, the more righteous we feel. We become an authority and that makes us feel confident in ourselves and safe. And then we begin to look outward - not towards God, but towards man. Not to serve man but to judge man. The beam in our eye grows and continues to the point of blindness, covered by the film of self-deceit. "How is it so many can't see the truth like I can?" "Because I know what's right, I must straighten out my brethren. That is my duty to use all this knowledge I have."  We're not washing feet, we are sticking our feet out to be washed.

But we who are self-demeaning are not innocent. We are willing to wash feet but do so with envy, anger, and discontentment. We think too highly of ourselves when we discriminate against those we believe have more. •

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Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. (John 13:3-5)

 

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God." This verse serves as a commentary on the thought-process of Jesus, just before He does one of His most remarkable acts. The Man who fed the hungry, healed the blind and raised the dead saved His most stunning act for the intimacy of this upper room: He is going to wash His disciples’ feet.

He—the Master, the Rabbi, the Son of God Himself—will humble Himself to do the lowliest task done typically by the lowliest servant.

Why does He do it? John tells us that He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. He knew He was come from God. And He knew that He was going back to God. In other words, the Lord was so secure in who He was, both personally and spiritually, that He had no ego to be bruised by washing feet. He had no pride to be wounded by humbling Himself in such a way.

The Bible does not teach us to have high “self esteem.” It teaches us to esteem others greater than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Jesus perfectly demonstrated that here and John tells us that Jesus’ self-respect was tempered by humility and a desire to serve. He was not insecure as a person. He was secure and humble; being the perfect object for us to emulate.

Don’t have self-esteem. Have Christ-esteem. Have “others”-esteem.

And have self-respect. Have enough of it that you are willing to humble yourself and serve others.

Matthew Martin 

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http://ourhopeonline.com

November 2017