Thursday, July 23, 2015

Golden Child?

Some families have what I like to call a “Golden Child.”

This is the individual who, from the perspective of the parents and/or grandparents, can do no wrong, and is clearly the favorite.

Whether their being singled out for special regard is intentional or not, it usually doesn’t bode well for ingratiating the “Golden Child” with the rest of the family. We clearly see the outcome of such favoritism in the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37).

I don’t believe special status and treatment can be lost on the “Golden Child.” Perhaps sometimes it is and they truly are oblivious to it. More often than not, however, they know full well that they have an “in” with mom or dad or grandma and grandpa that others do not. And they often can’t help but relish their exalted status.

In order to maintain their good standing, many “Golden Children” never make the attempt to positively point mom or dad or grandma or grandpa back to the other siblings or cousins, and fail to put in a good word for them. Instead, they bask in the fact that they are held in higher esteem than others.

We as Christians are not to act like or nominate ourselves the “Golden Child.”

While we are to be confident in our standing as beloved children of God (Proverbs 3:5-6, Ephesians 3:11-12), we are never to feel or think we are superior to others (Philippians 2:3). God loves all and desires that none perish (2 Peter 3:9). Unlike human parents and grandparents, God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34).

We are to always live in humble gratefulness for God’s love, acceptance and adoption (Colossians 2:6-7), and pray for those who have not come into the knowledge of God (Luke 10:2), though God loves them the same as He loves Christians (John 3:16).

We are not to disparage non-Christians amongst our Christian family, but love everyone (Mark 12:31). 

We are not to accommodate worldliness in anyone (Romans 12:2, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20), but feel burdened by it and follow God’s lead as to how to Biblically interact in relationships. We are to sincerely desire that everyone be in the family of God and not jealousy covet our position to their exclusion.

As a maturing member of the Body of Christ, we are to point all, Christian and non-Christian alike, to the Triune God and ask God in prayer to bless others with His grace and matchless mercy. In this we harbor no resentments, but instead join with God in the desire that all be saved, believing that no one is beyond His reach (Romans 12:10-13, 2 Peter 3:9).

A mature Christian stands on the foundation of Christ humbly (Colossians 2:6-7), and deliberately avoids a foundation of human favoritism (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, James 2:1-4, 1 Timothy 5:21).

A mature Christian does nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility values others above themselves (Philippians 2:3).

A mature Christian remembers their status as sinner; yes, redeemed, but sinner nonetheless (Romans 3) and is careful that, in our attitudes and actions towards others, we ourselves do not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

copyright Barb Harwood

“Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” 1 Corinthians 14:20

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-15

Monday, July 13, 2015

Be Informed on the Prosperity Gospel

Here is an excellent teaching on the Prosperity Gospel:

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. 'Get behind me, Satan!' he said. 'You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'"

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34

Friday, July 3, 2015

Five Ways Pride and Ego May Still Exist

The amazing thing about pride and ego is that, even when we think they're gone, they can still be inside of us.

These are the ways I have deluded myself into thinking “it wasn’t about me” when in actuality it was still about me (maybe to a lesser degree than previously, but still present):

     1. “I’m doing this for God.” I have been so sure that I was “in God’s will” that I missed my ego’s motivation entirely.

     2. I compartmentalized “ministry,” “church attendance” and various movements and separated them, like the scenes of a play, one from another. In so doing, I held these things at arms length and evaluated my spirituality by them.

What went on in my life in between these “scenes” got lost in the Christian striving to be more and more “Christian.” In my pride, I wanted to measure up to what the current standard of being a “Christian” was. So even though I was meeting one on one with God every day, and reading my Bible, my mind and ego were easily distracted and led astray by doing all the things that “strong Christians” do.

It’s funny how competitive being a Christian can become, all thanks to our wanting to keep up with the Christian Joneses.

 3. I asked God to bless what I determined “His will” to be.

Sometimes when we don’t get an answer to prayer, we plunge on ahead anyway, instead of waiting for God. This is tricky, because we can’t sit passively all our life, waiting for an answer from God. Sometimes no answer means “do whatever is good and aligns with Scripture.” But oftentimes it means: “I need you to be patient.”

Here’s the thing: every single time I’ve gotten ahead of God it was out of impatience on my part. Every time.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 bears this out:

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.”

The times that real ministry has happened has instead followed (not preceded) God putting something or someone on my heart who I would never have singled out myself. Certainly we pray for those around us that we are aware of. But when those we wouldn’t have thought up ourselves appear on our radar, or we find ourselves in a place where God is using us and we can’t remember getting there ourselves, we know ego and pride were not the motivation.

     4. Ignoring “red flags.”

When we want something so bad, and it looks good on paper, we often ignore those little doubts or concerns that really ought to be addressed. Many times we say “Satan is attacking” and we won’t dare “give an inch to the devil” by even addressing these doubts.

I don’t know where we Christians ever got the idea that anything that would dissuade us from what we want to do or feel “called” to do is of the devil!

We forget that the Holy Spirit is to counsel and guide us. The Holy Spirit warns us all the time about sin, so why do we not believe the Holy Spirit can also warn us to not do something that may look perfectly fine on paper? Just because a ministry, potential spouse, church or service organization is legitimate in God’s eyes does not mean carte blanche for our involvement with it.

When there are red flags, we do well to stop attributing them to Satan and ask ourselves if they just might be a warning from the Holy Spirit.

     5. Talking about our service, faith or church involvement as a “testimony” so others see Christ, when actually we are bragging.

There’s nothing wrong with faith discussions, or sharing what we’re up to. The point is motivation. Are we signing up for a mission trip so that we can talk about it with friends and family? Do we always manage to bring up how we are serving in every day conversations?

I used to justify this by saying that if other people can go on and on about their golf game or their politics, then I can go on and on about my faith. But wait. I am not supposed to be of the world. I’m not supposed to do things just because other people do them. I am not supposed to operate out of pride or a need for human affirmation.

Certainly our faith is not to be hidden:

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:15

Notice that the verse says “it” gives light. It’s not up to us, but the light. That light can shine quite well on it’s own power, which is Christ in us.

Abiding humbly in Christ is the goal, whether other people notice or not. It’s not our job to get their attention. Christ will do that on His terms and His timetable:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37

With that assurance, we have the freedom of being released from the burden and limitation of pride and ego and can become content to just be a follower of Christ.

 copyright Barb Harwood

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
1 Corinthians 13:4

“The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’” Obadiah 1:3

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

“The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”
Isaiah 58:11