It’s okay to want things done the way you feel is right. It’s okay to be particular…to be a perfectionist…it’s okay to be detailed.
It’s okay to provide constructive criticism, but it’s not okay to be petty or hypocritical.
It’s not okay to hold people to a higher standard that you hold yourself.
It’s okay to try to maintain control in your life, but not everyone elses.
Remember how Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. Read the entire chapter for context, but check out this verse…
Matthew 23:4 (NKJV)
For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Jesus rebuked them for being ‘nitpicky’ and overly critical hypocrites. They were obsessive about criticizing others and expressing their expectations while not holding themselves to the same standard.
People are much more willing to hear what we have to say if we aren’t nitpicky over every little detail in regard to them. We can get to the point to where people won’t even listen to us when we are right.
People not only will avoid your good advice. They will avoid you.
People will view you as obnoxious, nasty, and overly opinionated…even those closest to you.
The term for this obsession, derived from Freudian psychoanalysis, is referred to as anal-retentiveness, or simply ‘anal’.
Don’t be so ‘anal’ that you become an a**
Remember what the Apostle Paul said…
Romans 12:18 (NKJV)
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
It’s time to re-examine our traditions that are clearly in conflict with the word of God, and stop making excuses to justify what we want to do.
Matthew 5:33-37 (NKJV)
33 “Again you have heard that (A)it was said to those of [a]old, (B)‘You shall not swear falsely, but (C)shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you,(D)do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is(E)God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of(F)the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 (G)But let [b]your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
James 5:12 (NKJV)
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into [a]judgment.
As a child, did you ever play with a top? If so, when you spun the top it fun to watch it move around the top of a table. You allowed the top to spin on its own. If it got close to the edge of the table, you had the choice to intervene and stop it from falling, or you could allow it to fall. Now imagine if that top had its own consciousness and will.
Many people, even believers, ask how can a good, loving God allow evil to exist in the world. This is one of the spiritual realities that is difficult for our human intellect, not matter how sophisticated, to understand…
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God created us for relationship. Real relationship. He doesn’t want robots, He wants to be loved. That’s why we want love and affirmation because we were created in His image. If God forced us to love Him, or if He forced us to believe, that love would not be genuine. If our actions were forced, they would not be from our hearts.
One spiritual reality is that you can’t have good without evil. In order to have the reality of good, there must be also the reality of it’s absence. Another spiritual reality is that if good always exists, then evil must also always exist, otherwise how would we know that ‘good’ is ‘good’. The good thing is that God has the power over both.
There must be a means for both good and evil to manifest for be displayed and exist. There must be a place for both to ‘reside’,
So, God gives us FREE WILL to come and go… to think for ourselves… to believe…to love… to reject…and to choose evil.
1. FREE WILL
Look at us, people, as that top spinning on the table. As we spin, if we have our on consciousness and will, we have a choice to choose where we spin on that table. We have the choice to choose good, and we have the choice to choose evil. If God forced us to choose good it would not be free will. God reserves the right to STOP us from falling off the table…to catch us if we fall…or to put us back on the table if we fall. Notice that when the end of time comes, God is not DESTROYING evil, He will SEPARATE good from evil…
Revelation 20:10-15 (NKJV)
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[a] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before [b]God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second [c]death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
It was the devil’s, who was originally an angel, choice to choose evil. That choice thus made him the personification of evil. He was the first to choose it, and it is in Him it resides.
John 8:44 (NKJV)
44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Any ‘villain’ in biblical history wasn’t cursed by God to be evil. Their heart made them an ideal place for evil to reside. From Pharaoh to Ahab to Jezabel to Judas to Herod…to Hitler, they chose evil. They were not ‘victims’ of God doomed to evil. Their hearts made their ‘house’ a comfortable home for evil.
2. HE USES BOTH GOOD AND EVIL FOR HIS PURPOSE
God uses everyone and everything He creates for His purpose. Sometimes He has to discipline those whom He loves, and those who choose Him. Sometimes He allows bad things to happen as judgment and as a consequence of people choosing evil to prove He is sovereign. Sometimes this is done through a natural disaster, but sometimes He does it through people. It was prophesied that the Lord would be betrayed. God was not going to use anyone who ‘chose’ good to do this, so Judas made himself that choice because of his heart…
John 17:12 (NKJV)
12 While I was with them [a]in the world, I kept them in [b]Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is [c]lost except the son of [d]perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
There were several occasions God used those who chose evil to fulfill His purpose…
Exodus 14:4 (NKJV)
4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
Isaiah 10:5-12 (NKJV)
5 “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation. 6 I will send him against an ungodly nation, And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Yet he does not mean so, Nor does his heart think so; But it is in his heart to destroy, And cut off not a few nations. 8 For he says, ‘Are not my princes altogether kings? 9 Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols, Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 As I have done to Samaria and her idols, Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?’ ”
12Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has [a]performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”
3. GOD HAS AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
I love the way that the Complete Jewish Bible translation refers to eternity as eternity past to eternity future…
Psalm 90:2 (CJB)
2 Before the mountains were born, before you had formed the earth and the world, from eternity past to eternity future you are God.
God exists outside of time. He has not beginning or end. WHY GOD DOES NOT NEED AN ORIGIN STORY… So, everything God does is from an eternal perspective. No matter how ‘bad’ things may be for us now whether it be war, sickness, disease or disaster, He uses it for His purpose because He knows that even 1000 years from now, when we are experiencing eternal joy with Him, that the temporary ‘ugly things’ of life and time will not even matter. His eternal perspective can see that top spinning on the table, and He already knows that if it falls He will pick it up, or when the table is no more, He will hold the top in His hand.
Romans 8:18 (NKJV)
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
So, when we see the extreme evils in the world… When we see the tragedy of children with horrible illnesses… When we see those who are evil doing what they please with what appears to be impunity… We must still trust God and know that He is working what is sometimes difficult for us to understand for His eternal purpose…
Ecclesiastes 5:8 (NKJV)
8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent [a]perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
Remember, that as we spin on the table, God’s eyes are always on us (El Roi: The God Who Sees Me). Choose Him. Trust Him. Love Him, Work for His purpose and He will work all things out for our good…even when we don’t understand.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
One of the most difficult things to understand in the Bible is used by unbelievers as one of the first bullets they shoot to say there is no God.
Why would a loving God allow people to be stoned to death? They go on to say, ‘who would want to serve a God like that?’
I’m quick to say, ‘Me!’ And, this is why.
Relationships fail because of expectations not being met. The Bible is a narrative about two relationships, God and those who claim to be His, and those who don’t.
There are also two dispensations of these relationships… Old Testament and New Testament.
The powerful thing about the Old Testament is that it’s where God gave us His expectations through His relationship with Israel and Judah.
Through THE MOSAIC LAW, we learned what behavior God loves and what behavior God hates. When we look closely at how God reacted to Israel’s behavior. Yes, sin is sin, but to put it simply, some sins piss God of more.
For example, if a stranger were to hack your bank account and stole one dollar, you would be angry. You would be angry that they invaded your privacy and sacred space. You would be angry that they stole from you, but not as angry at the amount they stole. But, what if someone close to you hacked your retirement, stole your life savings and used YOUR money to hire someone to kill you to get insurance money as well? How much MORE angry would that make you?
In the Old Testament there were some sins that led to being exiled, while there were other sins that led to death.
During that time, Israel was our example to let us know God’s level of displeasure.
1 Corinthians 10:10-12 (NASB)
10 Nor grumble, as some of them [a]did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
God allows different things happen in different times. Back then they had the benefit of great miracles and hearing directly from God. Today we have the benefit of their experiences and technology that would seem like magic to them.
It’s in the Old Testament that we learned God’s expectations…
Romans 7:7-25 (NKJV)
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, (A)I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, (B)“You shall not covet.” 8 But (C)sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evildesire. For (D)apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, (E)which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.12 Therefore (F)the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
However, when Yeshua came and fulfilled the law, His death satisfied not only the penalty of eternal death, but also extended grace that the law didn’t. For example, look at His response in these two situations..,
John 8:1-11 (NKJV)
8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Now [a]early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and (A)taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, [b]this woman was caught in (B)adultery, in the very act. 5 (C)Now [c]Moses, in the law, commanded us [d]that such should be stoned. But what do You [e]say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they (D)might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with Hisfinger, [f]as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He [g]raised Himself up and said to them, (E)“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it,(F)being[h]convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up [i]and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers [j]of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, (G)“Neither do I condemn you; go [k]and (H)sin no more.”
Matthew 19:7-8 (KJV)
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
So was the level of consequences left for our example in the Old Testament fair to the people living then relative to us today? Maybe not, but God never claimed to be fair, only just. GOD ISN’T FAIR, BUT HE’S JUST…
Because of this today we know God gets just as angry now at forsaking His day of rest by working unnecessarily, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, idolatry, or witchcraft as He did then. Now we know that stealing or coveting makes Him angry, but not as angry as the fore mentioned sins…yet all are sin.
The law and its consequences is our teacher.
Galatians 3:24-25 (NKJV)
24 Therefore the law was our [a]tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
I encourage you to read through the Old Testament from the perspective of intentionally noticing how He reacts to Israel’s behavior. It gives great insight into how He feels when we do the same things today.
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