Friday, September 21, 2012

Blessing Others…Looking Out For Myself…Where Is The Line

How many of us have ever been given advice that was some version of, “You’ve got to look out for number one”? Recently Michele and I were involved in a minor car accident. We were not at fault, and the other person was very apologetic. No one was injured and on the surface the damage to the vehicle was barely noticeable.  

Almost immediately, okay, after the 45 minute Police report, Michele and I started discussing the idea of not filing the claim. We talked about the hassle of fighting it out with the insurance companies, the need for people to take responsibility for their actions, our right to have and maintain the “nice things” we’ve earned, as well as the reasons we see so many people driving around in beat up old Junkers.

That conversation about a very common human experience got me thinking about a very real spiritual truth. Christians are wired differently than Non-Christians. On the Christian side of the scale we operate from the prospective of “Blessing Others”, while Non-Christians operate from the prospective of “Looking Out for Myself”. I have to admit that on more than one occasion I’ve attempted to find a balance between these two mutually exclusive prospective. Have you ever looked for the dividing line between your best interest and the potential to bless someone else?

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” (NLT)

As Children of God, no problem should shake us. At all times our trust should be in Him as our help and strength. That sounds good and we quote it back to ourselves when we are faced with extreme difficulty or overwhelming stress, but it only works if we commit to living by faith 100% of the time.

Living by faith is not throwing up our hands and accepting circumstances as inevitable events fate has laid out for us. It is living everyday in the assurance that no matter what happens God will sustain us. It is God’s pleasure to bless His children. Children copy the actions of their parents. It should be our pleasure to bless others. It is our responsibility!

Proverbs 3:27-35 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—when you already have it with you. Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse anyone for no reason—when they have done you no harm. Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.” (NIV)

Christians have a higher code of conduct than Non-Christians. Don’t withhold good. Don’t plot harm. Don’t accuse without cause. Don’t envy or copy violent people. We have a responsibility to live as God’s representatives to the world. We must bless and not curse. God will take us into His confidence and bless our homes. We will be honored for our service to Him. No, it may not be recognized in this world, but it will be remembered. This world is not our home and I’m thankful we will not be here forever, but God takes care of His children both in the present and in our ultimate future.

Isaiah 26:7-10 “The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the Lord.” (NASB)

Each of us is on one of two paths. We are either on the path toward righteousness, or we are on the path toward wickedness. The path of righteousness has rewards along the way, but the path of wickedness has judgments. Yes, from time to time even on the path of wickedness we may experience grace; that grace does not teach us righteousness. Fortunately for us the highway to Hell does not have NO U-TURN signs posted. Actually we all started our journey on that path. Grace cannot teach us righteousness but it can open our eyes to the majesty of the Lord. Once our eyes are opened we have the opportunity to change paths. Being in the presence of God becomes the desire of our soul. Have your eyes been opened to the majesty of the Lord?

If God’s grace has opened our eyes, and we have responded in faith, we have already crossed the line from “Looking Out for Myself” to “Blessing Others”. When we make the selfless actions necessary to meet the needs of others, God impacts our lives in miraculous ways meeting our needs. We do not have to worry about what is in our best interest. God has promised to take care of that for us.

Romans 12:9-18 “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

These verses instruct us to share our lives and our blessing with others. My biggest problem in this area is stepping back over the line and attempting to decide who is worthy of a blessing and who is just getting what they deserve. I must be the only one that struggles with this because it’s a daily fight. Especially when I am dealing with insurance companies, the urge to cross the line and be completely Non-Christian comes out in force. In those times the voice of the Lord whispers, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Granted most of the time He has to whisper it with a two by four because the Garlit’s are so known for their quiet compliant nature.  

As we each look out for the interests of others God is glorified and we learn to operate from the flood of compassion He has shown us. In effect, “Blessing Others” is “Looking Out for Myself”. When I see to it that you have what you need and you see to it that I have what I need we are truly the Family of God.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. Let no one then seek his own good and advantage and profit, but [rather] each one of the other [let him seek the welfare of his neighbor].” (AMP)

Christians have liberty that goes beyond constitutional and legal rights. We, according to Scripture, have been “set free from the law of sin and death”. As a result of our liberty we should be helpful, expedient, profitable, and wholesome. That means that even though we have the ability to do anything we choose, our choices should reflect the character and love of God. Our actions are a window into our spiritual life.

Philippians 2:1-4 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NASB)

So, go out into the world as ambassadors of God’s good will toward mankind. Share your blessings and allow God to meet your needs. Remember “Blessing Others” is “Looking Out for Myself”.

Oh, about the car accident, once I stepped out of the frustration of the situation and back onto the path of righteousness. God was free to work everything out in the best way for both parties. The car gets its two day make over. Michele and I enjoy, once again, peace and harmony within our home and we are back on the road to blessing others. Being a Christian is a wonderful experience, if I can just remember to stay in the RIGHT lane.

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