Life Lessons from Hard Times – Part 5 of 12
So far in this series, we are working on understanding living successfully with wisdom. So long as we have the gift of life and health, the challenge remains in front of us.
In summary, our first four lessons for skillful living during hard times, from James 1, are as follows: God has tailor-made hard times for us, gratefully received by us, and embraced, to grow us up, to allow us to make skillful life decisions with generous direction from God; for those who don’t argue or challenge God as to our life circumstances, recognizing our lower or poorer position is actually an honor, and reward and maturity comes with perseverance.
In the normal course of life, nothing is more counterproductive to growing up, to maturity, than the blame game. It’s not my fault! I am a victim of my circumstances! I had a bad childhood! Life is not fair! On somewhat of a regular course, in my work as an attorney, and in the courts, I see men, for example, who NEVER grow up regardless of their age! It continues to surprise me. I never get used to it. Critical to spiritual growth is an understanding personal responsibility.
James writes, in the earliest of the post-resurrection epistles of the New Testament: James 1:13-15 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Three critical levels define wrong thinking in the area of personal growth and spiritual maturity.
1. The Source of Evil in this World is Not God. While God is the source of all of life, of our whole created order, He is not blameworthy for evil. From the Garden of Eden forward, while our ancient parents Adam and Eve tried to blame each other, or to blame God, no soap. Within the realm of free agency, both they, and now we, as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve cannot blame God. Time to put that thought to rest.
2. The Source of Evil in my Life is Me. In some of the lowest moments of my life, when my decisions were least honorable, I had to recognize that I had deceived myself. Despite being born again, the flesh and the Spirit still war within us. We are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desire. For the courts, judges regularly use hair follicles or urine analysis tests to cull out the truth as to substance use or abuse. For us, it is not a physical test but a mental review. If you are blaming God or others for your bad life decisions, it’s past time to own up. Admit your sin. Confess and make amends as you have the opportunity. That is what I am doing on an ongoing basis.
3. The Result of Evil is Disaster and Death. No reason to soft-peddle this. No fence-sitting in the Kingdom of God. There are two courses for spiritual growth. Maturity (called discipleship) or demise and/or death. And the litmus test is how you view God and how you view yourself and life decisions. The irony of the language – full-grown, yet death. Get objective outside input as needed. Maybe this is why, later in James, we are told: James 5:16 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
The good news is that these are common challenges for EVERYONE in life. Stop lying to yourself. Own up. Grow up. Keep on keeping on!
– John Moore