Saturday, March 20, 2010
Not You, but God
You do what you do and you feel how you feel because you think what you think.
This is one of the foundational principals in biblical counseling, and I suppose that if modern psychology were truthful, they would agree that the way a person thinks affects their feelings and actions. It's a pretty simple concept that we tend to take for granted. But the truth is undeniable - our actions reveal our mind.
Let's look at a few examples to flesh this out. First, Lot. He chose the most fertile land for himself and his flocks when his Uncle Abraham offered him his choice. We are told he chose the land in the south because it reminded him the most of Egypt. So he moves near to Sodom and Gomorrah, both exceedingly wicked in the sight of the Lord, and eventually moves within the city gates. He becomes involved with the leadership and offers his virgin daughters to the men who are ravenous to get their hands on the angels/visitors. He barely escapes destruction with his daughters, but loses not only his wife but his married children who think he is joking when he tells them to leave. And in the end, he fathers the children of his daughters because he drinks himself into oblivion every night to forget why he's living in a cave.
What do Lot's actions reveal about his thought process? Why was Lot drawn to a worldly, materialistic way of life? Did he live with an eternal perspective or an earthly one?
Now, granted, we have to make some assumptions here because we don't know the mind of Lot. And we are also warned of being judgmental, but for the sake of self-examination and application, we will continue on. We are told in II Peter 2 that Lot was tormented by the sin that surrounded him, but why didn't he separate from it? I think we'll all agree that Lot's actions reveal a mind set on pleasure and prosperity, at any cost. The torment he experienced was from knowing what was righteous and still choosing to ignore it.
Joseph. We have studied him in depth and we know that from serving his father to overseeing Potiphar's house to running Pharaoh's prison, Joseph worked hard, displayed integrity and showed compassion to those in his charge. Once he moved from prison into the Egyptian leadership position, he remained the same person - responsible, reliable and compassionate. When his brothers fell in fear before him, he calmed their fears by revealing his thoughts - not you, but God. He recognized God's undeniable hand on his life and he held no contempt, for he knew that God was sovereign over his life. This thought process produced great prosperity in Joseph's life, and I am not talking about material prosperity. I am talking about the fruit that comes from living with an eternal perspecitve - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness. I will save you the reading of how each of these qualities were present in Joseph's life, but the fact that these words describe him tells us that his mind was set on God. It's the only way to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
So, gals, stop for a moment and write out a description of your life. Don't go all the way back to childhood, just hit the highlights of 2010. What situations have you found yourself in? Marriage struggles? Parenting challenges? Financial stress? Moving? Loss of job? Maybe you've had a pretty smooth first three months of the year. What filled your time? What did you put your energy into? If someone was going to assess only your actions, what would they conclude that your mind is set upon? How would they describe your thought process?
"Not you, but God" is a great motto to adopt. No matter what happens, can you put that mindset into play? If your husband is cranky after work, can you step back and ask yourself, "What is God trying to teach me? What does he want me to learn here?" And when your husband asks forgiveness, can you smile and tell him what God is teaching you through that circumstance?
It's a whole new way of thinking, isn't it?
And that's exactly the point...