This is as close as you will see this blog go to discussing politics. At one time I was very outspoken, but I have learned that I add little if anything of value to the mix. There is very little rhetoric that is helpful.
Since the shooting at the ball field of the congressman and others I hoped some of the rhetoric might have calmed, but it has not, and I hear a lot of reference to free speech with little thought of the value that it adds to the discussion, and there is this one passage that the Lord keeps running through my head. It has been there the whole time.
Sadness or Anger
I look at the rhetoric and listen to the news and wonder; what is the temperament of the nation. I look at God’s Word, and its conspicuous absence from the public square and I am saddened. No one is looking to God for answers or allowing Him to guide their answers. They are allowing their selfish motives to drive their actions. Each so certain that they are right.
I look around and pray that someone could see. I pray that just a few might realize that their anger will not change the course, but God can do anything and this verse grows from a whisper to a ringing in my ears.
I thought of Romans 13 this morning. Paul told us in chapter 13 to submit to authorities. Yes, there are points where man’s law goes against God’s law and there we stand firm in our faith.
In the close of Romans 12, Paul is very specific.
Romans 12:16-21 (ESV) 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
God’s desire for us is to live peaceably with one another. But Romans is not the passage that has been lingering in my heart. It is in 1 Corinthians, and it is tied to our freedoms; the inalienable ones given to us by God.
As the talking heads spoke of free speech this week and how important that was and how important tolerance was I kept thinking – All things are legal, but not all things are favorable. That ran through my head for days and I knew it from somewhere but I was not sure where. Finally, it dawned on me that it was from God’s Word, but I was not sure from where.
I whipped out the handy-dandy Google and did a search on my feeble paraphrase and I found the verse in 2 places in 1 Corinthians: Chapter 6 and Chapter 10.
1 Corinthians 6:12
The first time it is used Paul is discussing sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV) 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
Paul goes to great lengths to describe our freedom and how not everything is helpful or how we cannot let things dominate us then he explains the difference about sexual sin.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV) Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
That passage chapter 6 is powerful. But I went on to chapter 10.
1 Corinthians 10
In chapter 10 the passage begins in the 23rd verse. It begins the same way, but makes a different point. I felt this was what the Holy Spirit had been showing me… poking at my heart.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV) 23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
As I pondered this passage I just kept thinking, “What is so hard about this?” “Why is it seemingly impossible for us to put someone else first?” Then I remembered, “Oh yah, the Bible is no longer allowed as part of the public discourse.” I remembered when the “Golden Rule” was on every classroom wall and the 10 commandments too. But that is no longer the case.
I look at these two passages that both begin the same way and I see the freedom and also the fact that though I have no constraints not all things are good. I also see that Glorifying God comes first in my decision on how to act and next the good of my neighbor.
I will not lie about this. The frustration about the seeming heartlessness of some in this country rekindles old passions; ones that do not serve me well, and the Holy Spirit has taught me many things through the Word. The most important. When I resort to my old passions to solve a problem the battle is lost. I may scare away the threat. But for me and my heart I have lost the battle. But, When I call on the Lord for His wisdom and strength the battle is often won without starting.
I think of this picture I have seen posted on face book. This woman is praying, “Dear Lord give please give me wisdom, because if you give me strength I am going to need bail money.” I know that it sounds silly, but there is wisdom in it.
With wisdom, she will rely on the Lord. With strength, her passions will rule.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Father, please help me to hold fast to Your Word in all circumstances. I know Lord that all things are lawful for me but not all helpful. Let me not forget that.
Help me never forget to put others before myself and remember that my real strength comes from you. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen