By Eric Boothe
This has got me thinking lately about "picking and choosing." It is something we all do to a degree, even if we do not like to admit it. If we didn't we would have the complete mind of Christ and our thoughts would never be clouded. We would think clearly and truthfully about every issue on earth and above the earth. We would see things as they really are and not really even have to think hard about them. There are two things that bring uncertainty and cloudiness to our thoughts about truth, the selfishness of our hearts (or "the flesh" as the Bible calls it), and the father of lies, Satan.
Our Selfish Hearts
Consumerism has preyed on the self-centeredness of the heart of man. There is an innate desire in each and every one of us to want our own way and to rebel against God's will for us. Our consumerist culture has realized this and used it for its own benefit to satisfy it's own way for personal gain. The marketing and advertising world preys on our selfishness. Ads are often focused on selling us something by making us believe that we need something in order to be successful or to feel happy and fulfilled. Take a simple slogan for instance, Wal-Mart says "Save Money, Live Better". While there is nothing wrong with saving money or living better, this slogan can prey on our desire to amass "things" in order to have a better life. It can easily create within us a money centered lifestyle in which we rely on money for our fulfillment. Our thoughts can easily become, "For me to be prosperous I have to shop at Wal-Mart!" which simply isn't true.
The father of lies
A friend of mine, Roland Filbrun recently wrote this:
A truth that God taught me about lies is this: a lie is nothing more than elements of truth twisted together so you cannot see the whole picture. There is not one element in the entire universe that Satan created. As the father of lies, his profession is none other than taking different parts and pieces of God's creation and presenting them in a different manner than God intended.
I believe one of the most important things in creation, if not the most important thing, are our relationships. Our selfishness and satan's deception can be very detrimental to relationships. God has created us as very relational beings. God himself is relational as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man and woman as the highlight of God's creation was meant to be a reflecting image of this. Seeing marriage as something that God has created as a reflection of his glory and relational characteristics is proof that God exist. Our marriages and friendships that we have with one another are something that God sees as very important and he cares about them a lot! God does not see them as something disposable, as our "picking and choosing" minds often tell us they are.
The Bible has a lot to say about our relationships, and I believe that relationships are something satan is seeking diligently to destroy. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." We must work hard at our relationships. It is easy for our selfish hearts to be easily angered (or jealous, envious, lustful, etc. I think many emotions apply here) when we don't get our way. If we let these negative emotions consume us we are giving the devil a foothold in our lives. He can distort the truth through things we hear and the actions of others until we have come to believe something that isn't true. This only get's worse the longer we let a relationship go un-reconciled. It's at this point the foothold of destruction can come to a relationship. We must be diligent in seeking understanding and reconciliation to any hurt relationship. God, as creator of relationship, is the only one we can seek understanding from if we want to have healthy relationships with one another.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.
The new self makes sense, it gives us hope, gives us joy, gives us love, gives us forgiveness, gives us vision, gives us purpose, gives us mercy, gives us compassion, gives us perspective on life, gives us hope in the direction of the world, gives us a reason to celebrate even when life is hard, gives us clarity of thought when cloudiness is all around, gives us a way to think logically, gives us a logical explanation how we came to be, gives us a reason to press on when we mess up, gives us a way to overcome our selfish hearts, gives us definition to prosperity, gives us a way to live better, gives us security, gives us purpose and direction in our relationships, gives us reconciliation, gives us an eternal perspective, most of all it gives us a victor over death, satan, and wrath. Jesus gives what no one else can give. Today I pick and choose Jesus because he first picked and chose me.