Monday Musings for July 31, 2017

Good morning, Musers,

We slip into August this week, so I have a devotional thought instead of a Q & A, and it’s about keeping a tender heart. It’s our choice to be either tender-hearted or hard-hearted — and the Nation Israel is our example here. Or to be more precise, they are our bad example here.

Don’t blame me, by the way. It’s God who decided to show Israel warts-and-all in his word… and he does it a lot. But, that’s because they failed a lot — and two things pop into my head.

First, they didn’t fail continuously. Remember, whatever else God is, he is also an author… so he left out the mundane parts of the ancient Jewish story. Indeed, authors are under no obligation to account for every moment of their characters’ lives. But this compression can make it seem as though they were continually messing up… but that’s not true. Life simply has its ups and downs… but the story is in the downs.

Second, the fact that I can understand those lessons means that I’m guilty of the same sins. As such, I’d better not go around beating my chest saying that I’m better than they are… or that we Christians are categorically superior… because that’s just not so either.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1)

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, (Romans 10:12, NIV)

What amazes me, though, is how so many knowledgeable Christians buy into some level of determinism. Where there are plenty of believers who echo Geraldine Jones’s (Flip Wilson’s character) saying, “The devil made me do it!” many other Christians say, “God made me do it!”

But are we prepared to say that God made us perform sinful acts? … because there’s no way we’re getting out of this without talking about free will… and we should. It is a big deal — and especially when talking about Israel in the wilderness. The nation chose to mess up. The alternative would be to say that God steered Israel into the ditch… like a malevolent puppeteer… and then beat them up because of it.

But, if what we do is indeed up to us, then we get to choose which face to put on… and that’s today’s point. Shall we turn our faces to flint — and not do God’s will or not serve our fellow man? Or shall we be supple and receptive of God’s will and do the kingdom’s work?

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)

It’s on us how we use our gifts and advantages… and much is at stake.

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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