"For where you have envy and selfish ambition there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:16-17
And, Good Evening! I don't usually open with a verse, but this verse came to me as a result of about a week of discerning prayer and I just had to put it up front tonight. It has been a very trying week to say the least and I've had to ask for some direction from God. This time not what to do, but rather for conviction of how to go forward and recognize where I've let myself, my friends, and my family down. I was in kind of a coasting pattern for a little while, all to eager to lash out in anger and scorn those who would persecute me, when in reality what I should have been doing was taking a hard look in the mirror. I somehow fell into the foolish belief that if I did things with best intentions that they were God's intended work. The problem lies in the term "best intentions".
These "best intentions" aren't always rooted in truth. Sometimes, in fact, they can be rooted in anger, revenge, and spite. Best intentions may make someone's life far better, but at a cost to many. I don't know how often Christians fall into this trap, but I've found myself in it. Let's give you an example that might help. Have you ever watched a person near to you be wronged by someone and wanted to get even or have you ever wanted to get even for something somebody has done to someone you care about? In the end your mind has probably told you things like. They deserve to hurt for hurting my friend and "I" should do something about it! What do you notice about that sentence? Is it clear? Its a word with only one letter isn't it? Its the root of selfishness, the root of ambition, the root of envy, and in the end if you focus on only it you will inevitably find disorder and evil practice won't you? If you focus on "I" you will fall into a trap of selfishness. It doesn't matter if you think you are being selfless you aren't. You are performing one of the most selfish acts a human can do and that is REVENGE. What does it serve you Christian? What does it serve you Steve Ruckman? Yes, that is the question I was left asking in the recent past. The answer is it doesn't serve you well and it certainly doesn't serve me well.
Next time somebody hurts you or someone you love I want you to pause before action and pray over the verse above. Let it sink deeply into your heart and soul. Let it soften you so that you can live with the wisdom that comes from heaven which is all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Try this as an exercise to help you along the way. Take that "I" from you selfishness and place it into the verse as follows and see just how good it sounds:
I will be all pure; I will be peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Wow! Isn't that the heart of walking the way that the Lord Jesus would have us walk? Can you say that sentence and mean it? Right now I can't, but I pray that I will continue to strive for it. Will you walk with me? I hope so!
Love and Peace to you from our Risen Savior,