Wobbling in the Dark

I read an interesting devotional in Our Daily Bread:  https://odb.org/US/2021/05/18/facing-the-darkness (btw, Our Daily Bread is worth the read any day.)

It gave a synopsis of a research study on the effects of darkness on the human psyche. The study is given more detail in this article: http://thescienceexplorer.com/brain-and-body/isolation-dark-drives-humans-brink-insanity-studies-find

“Science suggests that darkness can do all kinds of things to the human body and brain: It can make us more likely to lie and cheat, make mistakes at work, and even see things we don’t normally see. ‘Darkness is like a mirror: It shows you what you don’t want to see.’” From   https://elemental.medium.com/darkness-can-do-all-kinds-of-things-to-your-body-and-brain-beb3d0da2fb4#:

Darkness may be defined as the absence of light or the absence of God.

Isaiah 8 gives us some Words that God has about darkness and light:

20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

And another verse over, He says: Isaiah 9.2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Walking in the dark will cause us to take the wrong path: the crooked way instead of the righteous way. If we persist down this path, we will continue to stumble and fall (these are like roadblocks that God will use so that we fall and look to Him). We will begin to distort God’s plumbline in our hearts by altering, warping, and stretching it. We will blur the distance between where it is and where we are, therefore overshooting or falling short. When we wander in the dark, we forget what the light was like, how we cherished it and depended on it. We begin to cherish the dark. We put ourselves in danger of discounting God altogether, and eventually denying His importance or even His existence.

Beware of visiting or dwelling in darkness. Darkness is disorienting: walking in it leads to errors, believing lies, and stumbling.

Hosea 12.8 And Ephraim boasts: “How rich I have become! I have found wealth for myself. In all my labors, they can find in me no iniquity that is sinful.”

Alas for Ephraim, to be so lost in darkness that he thinks he is innocent and smart. But the Light speaks:

Hosea 13.1When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel. But he incurred guilt through Baal, and he died…. 4Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, for there is no Savior besides Me. 5I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. 6When they had pasture, they became satisfied; when they were satisfied, their hearts became proud, and as a result they forgot Me.

Let us never become satisfied by the works of our own hands, may we never be so enthralled with the darkness that we wade in deeper and deeper, becoming lost.

Oswald Chambers: “Seeing is never believing. We interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.”

When we make our own “light,” we can believe anything in the dark.

If we walk toward the true Light, but do not step into it, then we are still walking in the dark.

The Light calls you, beckons you with tenderloving kindness. Accept Jesus’ invitation, Step into the Light.

Nothing Can Change Until I do

I was reading through Facebook, and someone shared a nice post about what a privilege it is to be a mom, how all the hard work is worth it, etc. One woman responded with bitterness, saying that in the old days women had all day to take care of the house and kids, but modern day requires both man and wife to work; and it must be nice if both of them pitched in with the kids and housework, but her husband never lifts a finger around the house and she has to do it all.

My first response was to pray for her (“Emily”). Then I thought, “Nothing can change until we do.” I can see that God must be working on her heart, giving her life lessons to cleanse her bitterness. But she won’t learn those lessons until she receives the position where God put her, and thanks Him for it.

Psalm 16.  5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

God always has a good reason for where we are. We might not like it; in fact, if it’s a hard lesson we’ll probably hate it. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. And – here’s the important part: He’s right. God is always right, and He always loves us.

Lord God Almighty, You created Heaven and Earth, and You designed and created us, each individual Us. Thank you. You work from Love, and You continue in Love. You desire us to live Your abundant life; but we cannot accept and live that out until You show us our sin, we repent, and You cleanse us from sin. Thank You for Your Life Lessons, for Your gifts. Teach us to forgive, Lord, and increase our faith (Luke 17.1 – 5). May we accept You and Your ways with grateful hearts. Please bless us with teachable spirits. I love You, Lord. Amen.

What Kind of Fruit?

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John 15.1-8  1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

From this passage I understand that I am grafted into the perfect vine of Jesus. With that life force flowing through me (the Holy Spirit working through me), I am to produce fruit. The fruit of Jesus is bountiful and nutritious and refreshing, and useful for many things.

Mark 12.1-9 1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others

From this passage, I understand that God gives me choice. I can decide how to manage my vineyard. He planted wonderful seed in me (His Holy Spirit), and I have the ability to access that life force for growing wonderful fruit. But I can also decide to keep that fruit to myself and / or to grow that fruit in a different way. My way of growing fruit is not good, as God’s is; therefore, I will produce poison or malnourishing fruit.

From this same passage, I understand that God sends people to me to collect His fruit. Again enters choice: How do I treat those whom God sends?

What kind of fruit am I producing, and what am I doing with it???

Good fruit from the vine of Jesus vs worldly fruit is like eating real food vs junk food. Worldly works “taste” good to the world, but there’s no nutrition, and leaves you wanting more of the junk. Jesus’ fruit is real, and it is satisfying.

As new or immature Christians, coming from the world, we may still like the worldly fruit better. Often, this bad fruit gets pruned away and it hurts.

  • John 15. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and
  • v6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered
  • Isaiah 64.6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses areas filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

As Christians we yearn more and more for the nutritious fruit of the vine.

How do we get fed the nutritious “fertilizer” and nutrients to produce good fruit? Connect to the Source:

  • Jesus is the Living Water
  • Jesus is the True Vine
  • God’s Holy Spirit abides in us
  • God’s Word is Truth: read it

Romans 5.8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and – Ephesians 3.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us  — Did you get that? The power that worketh IN US. That’s God’s power IN US!

This is the mystery and miracle of God working through us: We are to be channels of God unto others – we commend God’s love to others while they (we) are sinners. To do this, we must die to ourselves. We allow God to take away all those branches and leaves that are our flesh; and we step aside to let Him live through us. Then we will bear His fruit, and it will be so abundant and good that there will be plenty for ourselves and to share with all those whom God puts in our paths. And we will give God the glory!

Galatians 5.22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

Philippians 1.11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

* images collected from google images

His Blood Be on Us

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Matthew 27.25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

As we approach Easter, let us consider the crowds that demanded that Jesus be crucified. Barely a week prior, this crowd had hailed Jesus as He rode on a donkey, as their Messiah and King. They were right about that. But they had not eyes to see from God’s perspective. They had only human, earthly perspective. They wanted a political king; they wanted to be saved from their current predicament.

Before Pilate, the crowd asked for Barabbas to be released, and for Jesus to be crucified (under the chief priests’ and elders’ persuasion). Pilate washed his hands and declared himself “innocent of the blood of this just person.” The crowd replied, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”

They were right about that, too.

In the book of Acts, Peter set them straight about what, exactly, happened. Acts 5.27-30 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28Saying, you… intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said… 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree

All humanity were a part of that crowd – we were a part of that crowd. In our flesh, we want nothing to do with the Holy and Righteous Son of God. Just as Eve decided in the Garden, we prefer to be our own gods and decide for ourselves how we want to live.

But God had a different plan, and a different love.

Jesus’ blood, that blood that we spilled, the blood on our hands: That blood is the same blood that God planned all along to save us. He used that blood to cleanse us from the sin of desiring that blood.

Ephesians 1.7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. John 3.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

*image from google images

Only a Little Sin

Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Some might think it was only a little sin – why cast them out for one sin?

Well, the sin was deciding they wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil, for wanting to decide for themselves where the plumbline should be.

Where does God draw the line on sin? Certainly not where we would decide to draw the line.

And, if God did not cast them out for “one little sin,” how could there ever be a perfect place to live for eternity? Do we really want Heaven to be a place where we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil?

I say NO; we already are living in that place, and it certainly is not Heaven.

With this “wisdom” we have, we make ourselves the judge and jury of all we see. That’s one concern with the media. Every wrong is displayed for everyone to see, and everyone has their own opinion on how the issue should be addressed. Everyone decides for themselves what is good and evil. We can easily see how this causes division.

“One little sin” leads to another – it’s a slippery slope. Look how quickly that sin in the garden turned into murder with Cain and Abel.

We absolutely must recognize that only God has the true plumbline, and that He has the power, the love, and the right to rule over His creation and decide the rules for holiness and righteousness.

May we bow before God’s wisdom, authority, majesty, power, glory, honor, and love.

Revelation 4.11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

“Forgive and Forget” or “We Need to Talk”

Matthew 18.21, 22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

In our everyday lives, we have occasion to cross paths with many other people. Sometimes those paths are smooth, sometimes not so much. Forgiveness is in order.

Someone cut you off on the road? Forgive. Your husband/wife sounded disrespectful? Forgive. Your sister forgot your birthday? Forgive.

Do we simply forgive each and every time, and go about our business as if nothing happened? Sometimes that is the wise route to take.

The Bible also says, Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Matthew 18.15-17

So sometimes we are to sit down and discuss things with others. If there is a relational problem, we must seek to solve the matter. Whether it be friend-to-friend, husband-wife, parent-child, siblings, co-workers, church relations, or others; if we have continuous relations with someone, we need to work things out.

God is a God of relations. We are to relate to each other in a Christian sort of way. If we are angry, we must be certain to discuss in love. If that’s not possible due to emotions, then set a time and place when all parties are able to set emotions aside.

We are to be accountable to one another. If one person is running roughshod over another (and perhaps does not even realize it), s/he should be held accountable. Again, Matthew 18.15 tells us to go and tell him his/her fault. But be sure to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4.14, 15 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.)

And keep all things in prayer. The Holy Spirit will guide you in all things: timing, setting, spirit, words, and body language. Pray with the person you need to confront, or pray with a trusted friend. If needed, have a trusted friend sitting by as you have your discussion; the friend will provide accountability.

Matthew 19.19, 20 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Proverbs 27.17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Sometimes a third party is needed. Godly counseling is also indicated: Proverbs 15.22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established. Proverbs 19.20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Proverbs 1.5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.

Pray God for wisdom and discernment. Read God’s Word, learn of Him.

Proverbs 1.1 – 7

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

God’s Big Little Solaces

It smells like cinnamon rolls in my house. That’s because I just pulled them out of the oven, along with a loaf of bread.

It’s a wintry day in my neck of the woods. It’s been cloudy, drizzly, freezing for a few days now, and we’re all ready to catch a glimpse of the sun.

It’s not just the weather. Sometimes life can bring us a bit lower than the “Rejoice in the Lord always” moments.

When that happens, we can consciously bring to mind that God is with us. Always. That means “ALWAYS.” Sometimes we can picture ourselves dancing in the palm of His Hand. Sometimes it means a vision of curling up in His Lap (He is our Abba, after all).

As we purposefully spend time with our Savior and Friend, we can accept His love and comfort and joy because we know that He ever commends His Love toward us.

Besides cinnamon rolls in my warm cozy home, I read ‘More Cinquains’ by Lee: https://leesbird.com/2021/02/01/more-cinquains/ , and this image cheered me.

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) singing by J Fenton2

I think it’s a beautiful picture of joyfully singing praises to our Lord.

God also cheered me with two more blog posts, both from faithful writers who consistently point to God: Vickie’s https://vicklea.com/2021/02/02/shield-of-salvation-and-gentleness/ and Brenda’s https://becominghistapestry.com/2021/02/02/this-is-love/ .

I encourage you, whatever your “feelings” might be today, to look to God, embrace the gifts He is offering you even now, and thank Him from a grateful heart.

Obey God Rather Than Men

Acts 5.29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men

This was the apostles’ response to the council and high priest when asked, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” (v 28) and the apostles were correct.

Sometimes it is easy to remember this verse when faced with a BIG, clear directive in opposition to God’s Word, when obeying that directive sends clanging warning bells.

To how big or how little a thing does this apply?

What about peer pressure? What about advice from a trusted friend? What about when your boss hints that a task should be done ~this~ way? How about a spouse’s suggestion that’s a bit “off?” What about that television show? What about when everyone else in church thinks this is the way to go? What about when the pressure to do something is tremendous, and you think you have no choice?

How faithful and obedient can a person be to God in every. little. thing? Do we even stop to consider? Do we, like the Bereans did (Acts 17.11), stop to examine the Scriptures to see whether these things are so?

When we don’t examine God’s Word, when we don’t have our daily devotionals and time with God, we can quite easily go singing merrily along in our own power and the power of the culture that surrounds us – bombards us, even. The more we stray from God’s Word, the easier it becomes to stray even more.

Be grounded in the Bible. Read it every day. Compare what you hear, what you believe to be true, with what God has to say about it. Pray before, while, and after you read; pray the Holy Spirit will guide and interpret to your poor mind what the truth is in any given situation.

In big things and small, God always blesses obedience. Always. You may conjure up consequences to your actions, but God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3.20). Trust Him.

Then go forth, and obey God rather than men.

Faithful in That Which is Least

Are you faithful in the little things?

Little things:

  • Did you get your daily chores finished before you went to bed, or did you leave some undone so that you could do stuff that may not have been on God’s list?
  • Were you faithful in showing love to your spouse and children?
  • Did you return that little item? You don’t know exactly how it ended up with you, but you know where it goes.
  • Did you spend quality time with God?
  • Did you rejoice in the day the Lord has made, or did you grouse?
  • Did you remember to thank God for all things?
  • Were you respectful to others, counting them as more important than yourself?
  • Did you walk and speak with integrity all the day long?
  • Were your words needed and edifying? How about your facial expressions?
  • Were you wise with your resources: time, money, gifts/talents?

If we are not faithful in the little things, that is an indicator that our faith is small.

God trains our faith. Notice the disciples. In Luke 17, Jesus is in the midst of teaching them about temptations, trespasses, and forgiveness. As happens so many times with the apostles and with us, they were cloudy as to the meaning of Jesus’ Words. Verse 5: And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

One of the first and most important lessons in faith-training is to read God’s Word. He tells us to pray that He will increase our faith.

Pray God to increase your faith.

Also in God’s Word are hundreds of examples for us to follow or learn from:

Noah, by faith, built the ark that saved humanity. He probably did not jump into faith the moment God called him to start collecting gopher wood. Like all of us, he started by being faithful in the little things.

I’m guessing Abram, when he was little, had many little lessons in faith. In adulthood, he was able to, in faith, fully obey his God. How? Abraham had learned that God is always faithful, that God always loved him, and that God would always protect him.

Joseph’s faith was tested in his teens when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was faithful in Potiphar’s house, he was faithful in prison (remember that part about thanking God for all things?), and he was faithful as a high ruler in Egypt. Here, too, Joseph probably had much faith-training as he grew up, and was rewarded time and again for that growing faith.

David was called the Friend of God. He learned as a boy how faithful God is, and he carried that with him all his life.

Study the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. All these people were able to look back on their own lives. What did they see first? The faith of God. And they could see what God had worked through them.

Faith does not come easily. God has designed us so that we learn through trials, tribulations, and struggles. It has to be that way because our flesh is so strong, and we must learn to put away the flesh.

James 1.2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

AND – look what God can do through those who are faithful!

In the Bible, we get to see the results of the faithful work of others. Every once in a while, God gives us a peek at the results of our own faithfulness (I love it when He does that!). We know not what God intends when we carry out His tasks, when we are faithful stewards with the resources He gives us. Sometimes we get a peek at the results when we are not faithful.   Arrrghh!  Those are faith-lessons, too.

Are you faithful in the little things? Is your faith increasing? What is God showing you about faith?

Hebrews 11.6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

I’m Better than You Because _____

Our Sunday School class has been going through some of 1 Corinthians. The theme recently has been division. Everything we read about and discussed from the Book was relevant to today.

The culture of the city of Corinth was that of a divided economic status. [I think of what I’ve heard of India and the caste system: whatever order you are born into is the order you stay in for life.] The wealthy of Corinth could pretty much do as they pleased (and they did) without concern for losing status. The poor of the same city could do whatever they were able, and never leave their poverty or circumstances. Into whichever level you were born, you expected to stay there always. It was accepted and understood, and no one considered mingling with others of a variant status.

Into this culture walked the apostle Paul, “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2.3). Happily, God had prepared for him some true friends in Aquila and Priscilla, and then also Apollos.

This small group, armed with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word and His direction, set out to change the culture of Corinth and set them free.

Corinth was an important city along a major trade route, with large numbers of sailors and merchants. It was also one of the wickedest cities of ancient times: immorality, scores of pagan practices and heathen religions

It must have been a shocking thing for Corinthians to hear that God created all men equal, that God loves everyone equally. Of course, hatred of God’s Word and violence against Paul’s messages were not new to Paul. It happened in Corinth, too. But in Acts 18.9, 10 God encourages and consoles Paul: “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Was Paul surprised to hear that there were many people to be saved in such a city? I think not, as Paul had before seen the miracles of God’s salvation.

Paul shook his raiment when the Jews in the synagogues opposed the Christian group and blasphemed; Paul declared that he would go to the Gentiles.

Not having lived in Corinth at that time, I don’t know if the Jews living there were any more moral or kind or loving than the Gentiles. But God had given Paul a mission, and Paul knew he had the power of God to fulfill it.

I’m visualizing Paul making his tents, talking with people who pass by or want to purchase his wares. I picture him walking around to meet other people, speaking as often as the opportunity presents itself to declare Jesus Christ. He would invite them to hear more.

Christians of course did not have churches then; they met in people’s houses. Perhaps there was a group that met in and around the merchant stall where Paul and his friends had set up their tent-making trade. Can you imagine rich and poor and in-between, sitting together for the first time – no seats reserved for the mighty or the lowly, everyone taking a seat where there was one.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians often touched on the topic of division. He must have witnessed it. Even after he left, he still received ill reports of their behavior.

This is a hard thing to embrace! God thinks I’m just as valuable and loveable as that guy over there?

The rich may think: Impossible! I’m better than anyone else in here.

The poor may think: Impossible! I could never be as important as the rich and mighty.

How about us? Do any of these thoughts barge in, unannounced?

“I’m better than you because I’m married.”

“I’m better than you because I have children / grandchildren.”

“I’m better than you because I’m not poor.”

“I’m better than you because my fingernails aren’t dirty after I scratch my head.”

“I’m better than you because I have healthy foods in my cart.”

“I’m better than you because you’re fatter than I am.”

“I’m better than you because I still have my job / I have a better job / I like my job / I get promoted in my job.”

“I’m better than you because your house is a mess.”

“I’m better than you because my house is bigger / I live in a nicer neighborhood.”

“I’m better than you because I take more medications.”

How many more can you think of?

Philippians 2.3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

What a hard lesson this is! Most of human flesh depends on assuring ourselves that we are good, and the way we look good is by looking better than others around us. We fall into this trap so easily because it’s our weak point. Look at how easily Hitler gathered Aryan followers. Look at how easily advertisers sell their products.

Look at how easily our nation has divided. “I’m better than you because I’m right.”

In a book I’m reading, the author posed the question, Do any of us really understand how much God loves us? I thought, No, only Jesus did.

That’s how Jesus could look on every single person with love. Jesus knew how much God loved Him, because He loved Him equally right back. God’s love is perfect, infinite, true. It is impossible for God to love anyone with anything less than perfect love.

If we are looking upon others with the eyes God gave us, instead of our own, then we will understand that we are, indeed, no better than anyone else on any level.

This is why we are able, in Jesus’s strength and wisdom, to serve others. When we access the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16), when we work from the love that God puts within us, we receive special wisdom through the Holy Spirit to look upon others with tender hearts and with understanding. We can see that all other people are on the same level we are: in need of the grace of God.

Will God use you to serve that grace to others?

1 Corinthians 1.10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Romans 15.5 – 7 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.