My Fitness

Thursday, June 29, 2017

natural vs spiritual gifting

Briefly, the difference between a natural gifting and a spiritual gifting is its use to the Body of Christ. Someone can be a gifted speaker and not be edifying or up-lifting. Whereas another person might be clumsy and ineloquent and yet still edifying and up-lifting. If you are merely talented, then you have natural giftings. If you are a natural or not, but God is using your talent (or lack of talent) for his glory and the building-up of the Saints, then you are spiritually gifted.

Similarly, if you think it's your duty to "speak up" for the "truth" and can't do it lovingly, i.e. a way that others can receive it and hear it, then you do not have that spiritual gifting.

I'm writing this because I've known and have personally encountered people who think they are somehow more "spiritually aware" than those around them. It's not been true thus far. If you have to tell people how spiritually aware you are, you are most likely a very new believer. And "new" doesn't always correspond to elapsed time. You can be a believer for 60 years and still be "new".

My problem comes from receiving these people's rebukes and "words from God" that if in the Old Testament they'd be stoned for speaking because of their lack of truth. But no matter how many times these people speak to me and try to "lovingly correct" me (over things that are simply not there) they've never been right. Even if part of what they say is right, their conclusion has always been faulty, hurtful, and godless. For a long time I felt that maybe these people saw me more clearly than I saw myself. I thought I was crazy. Luckily, their lies were revealed. I no longer live in slavery to their vindictiveness. I don't know why these people chose me to bully. Perhaps they saw me as easy prey since I was wanting to please God and they used a spiritual front to attack.

But now I attack back:

If someone says something unloving even if true, this is not the spirit of God. God is love. If they come back with, "What do you want me to say? You want me to LIE?" This is a sure sign of immaturity. A mature person knows that you don't have to say anything. A mature person knows that God works with people through his Word and the Body of Believers and that just because someone has an unresolved issue still doesn't mean they always will. A mature person knows that their past is not the standard by which other people are measured. A mature person knows to not compare someone else's struggles with their own strengths. A mature person won't send you a text message accusing you of things they heard from another source without at least finding out the circumstance; and they probably won't assume that it's their place to correct. A mature person won't sit a group of people in a circle and single out someone about something without first talking to them; they certainly won't then ask if anyone else has anything else to add. These are the actions of hatred, not love.

It's the lack of humility in these actions that is the tell-tale sign of the lack of the Spirit. If you can't admit that you're a hypocrite, then how can anyone believe anything you say? You're still lying to yourself. Every mature Christian I know will readily admit their hypocrisy. They readily admit their constant need for repentance. They readily admit that they still suck and are in need of Christ. Even while they have Christ they recognize that they are messing up and it's only by God's grace that there is anything worthy in them - it isn't them, it's Christ in them.

So if you find yourself thinking of yourself more highly than you should, bring yourself low before God does. It's must easier and pleasant to humble yourself than to be humiliated by God. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

the third commandment

With the understanding that people debate over the numeration of commandments, let's go forward here knowing that I mean Exodus 20:7: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. It is the same as Deuteronomy 5:11.

When I was a kid, pop culture often used the various names of God as a means of cussing or filling in for "um" or other mental pause. Rarely did I actually hear someone use the name of God as a cuss. Usually it was an exclamation of "wow". I asked why we weren't to use the name of God "in vain" and what did that mean anyway. The best explanation given to me was that God only wanted people using his name to get his attention. Wouldn't I find it annoying if people went around saying, "Lauren" all the time and not wanting to talk to me? 

Well, that's dumb. 

Do people really think that's the reason? I was given so many stupid answers to my theological questions as a kid that I quickly decided to read the Bible for myself and read commentaries and studies because the adults in my life gave really dumb answers. 

God isn't sitting around in the cloud waiting for someone to say his name and then getting disappointed when they weren't actually talking to him. He isn't like some cosmic dog waiting to go for a walk only to be disappointed when his owners pass him by. God knows who is talking to him and who isn't.

So why doesn't he like it? I can think of two reasons.

The first is a different meaning of "taking in vain". 
Matthew 7
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7
These verses lead me to conclude that many Religious People take the name of God such as "Christian" but it's for nothing. Just because you call yourself a Christian does not mean you are a Christian. I took my husband's name when we married, but if I only changed my name that would not make me married to him. I could even bake him things and clean up after him but that would not mean I was married to him. 

The second reason God doesn't want his name used in vain is what it does to our hearts. Along the lines of speaking a word so that it loses its power, when we speak God's name in irreverence we numb our hearts to Him. He says of himself, "I am Who I am" is his name. He is not a god named Yahweh. He is Yahweh. He is not separate from his name. While God's name does not actually lose its power, using it in vain is the product of our hard hearts. Just like all the other commandments are products of sinful hearts, Christ has to explain that it is more than just the action itself that is sinful; it is the heart that is sinful. He wants us to worship him. He deserves our worship. He deserves our reverence. Using his name in vain is disrespectful, rude, and irreverent to God. I wish I were more eloquent and could better articulate and adequately describe what I mean. 

Culturally, some people say "Mr." or "Mrs." and in others "-san" to the end of one's name, but these are not God's cultures. His name is revered based on what he says. And he says "don't take my name in vain."

The take-away is this: check your heart. Are you a "christian" in vain or do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do you speak the name of the Lord in love and reverence or do you use it to fill a pause in your sentence?