Personal Responsibility; October 23, 2019

Proverbs 19:3 A man’s own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the Lord.

This is so common! Time and time again I have seen people who were mad at God, not recognizing that it was their own choices and reactions that got them into the situation they so dislike. I couldn’t begin to count how many people I have dealt with who chose resentment over humility, “more of the same” over genuine reform. It can be quite tragic, really. We see women who go from one abusive man to another, rather than stopping to consider their own part in the mess that is their life. We see men who get obsessive over something, whether it is video games or drugs or any of a number of things, and then blame anyone or anything else (God, really, as this verse says) for their situation. Everyone encounters things in life that require wisdom and humility to overcome. Jesus was very up front about that but He also told us to rejoice, because He has already won the battle. (John 16:23) The devil is already out to get us; we don’t need to play into his hands by our reactions to the challenges of life. God allows all of this because He wants mature children, not immature brats. It is in facing challenges of all sorts and overcoming them that we grow to be like the perfect Son of God. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

As a pastor, dealing with people like this is part of my job description, and frankly, it’s one of my own major challenges. As has been said, the difficulty of pastoral ministry is the people! However, I remember my own foolishness and how God has been so gracious to me, and it helps me pass that grace on to others. My heart has broken many times over people who fail to understand Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” They operate in a strictly humanistic framework, even when they claim to be Christians. By failing to start with God, they lack understanding of what is really going on in their lives. They somehow think they have to “fix everything” themselves, and naturally get depressed and/or angry when that doesn’t happen. I have come to expect accusations of all sorts when I’m dealing with such people. I’m certainly not perfect and I say and do the wrong thing at times, so I must maintain humility, but I also need to remember that these people are really railing against God. I’ve got to keep speaking the truth in love, regardless of the immediate response, and trust the Holy Spirit to work those words into the heart of the person in His timing. At the same time, I’m reminded of a secular saying: “You can’t fix stupid.” I need to pray God’s mercy on us all.

Father thank You for this reminder. You know who came to mind as I was writing that. I do ask Your grace and mercy for each of those people, and wisdom in relating to them, so that the works of the devil may be destroyed (1 John 3:8) and people set free, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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