Not me – I’m not like that, am I?

Eugenia Price wrote Woman to Woman, in (Copyright) 1959. It was printed by Zondervan and in the entire text she does not use any Scripture references. I found that a bit odd for a text used as a devotional. Either way, she did have some information useful for self-examination. Her text is in italics.

“James wrote a deep truth about human nature when he wrote, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” He is.

And our instability shows nowhere as flagrantly as it shows in our dispositions.

She wrote that both men and women excuse their dispositions on the grounds of heredity, or circumstances. She believed that women had another excuse, exclusively theirs she said. “Deep within our feminine personalities is the conviction that we are permitted some temperament simply because we are women! More commonly referred to as a woman’s prerogative.

She felt that men had no right to excuse their lack of domestic ability simply because of their gender qualities, “neither do women have a right to excuse their irritability, and nagging, unbridled tongues on the fact that, by nature, women are just like that.”

A woman’s disposition is merely an outward sign of what she really is within. An outward sign of what is predominant within her inner self. If she is predominant there, her disposition shows it. If Christ is predominant there, her disposition show that, too.

The Scriptures in Luke 6:45, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

So before Christ, what was in my heart, changed with time, experience, fear.

When I got married my ex could bring the worst out in me…and it showed. Mind you, I was saved in 1982, so I was already a Christian when I got divorced. So I learned, in raising my children alone…that they too could bring the worst out in me. One thing that I knew about myself…that in spite of myself…I loved my children. They could try my last nerve, but they could also give me immense joy just with a smile, or and “I love you mom.” I wanted to give them the one thing I never had as a child, love, acceptance and acknowledgment that they mattered. God used that love I had for my children to teach me – about myself, but mostly about Him.

God used my wretched character, my inherent qualities to teach me His ways. Because my ways, are not His ways. They couldn’t be. Nothing in me could be like Him without His Spirit living in me. It was not like establishing a new habit. It was about getting a new mind. The old was gone and new was controlled by the Spirit of God.  It took years for the Lord to work in me because my flesh was stubborn. My “inherent qualities” always wanted to rule.

For me as a woman that confesses Christ, whose only desire is to be pleasing to God, to live as such has taken years for the Spirit of God to work in my life, to transform my thought life, to trust in Him in all things, and to be content in all things and to finally put the flesh to death. Yes, because this flesh had to die to conform into the image of God. There was nothing I could do, or change that would stick. The flesh wanted to rule.

I have been blessed to be surrounded by Christians since my salvation in 1982. I wasn’t always in church. I didn’t always read my Bible. But God was always near.

Being around Christians allowed me to see the various types of Christian personalities that are produced by any particular church. Yes. I said church. Baptists, Fundamentalists, Assemblies of God, non-denominational churches, Bible churches, Christian churches  – churches where the Gospel of Christ is preached. I’ve attended different types depending on where we lived. Different name – similar teachings. Some teach speaking in tongues, grace, others don’t. Some expect you to faint when a man of God touches you during prayer. I remember I went up once to get prayer, for something, don’t recall what. When the visiting speaker put his hand on my head, he started to pray really powerful, but all I could feel was him trying to push me down. I didn’t want to fall. I couldn’t understand why he was trying to knock me down. Then, when he finished I saw other people on the floor, or going down, and it struck me, he was probably expecting me to go back. I was like… oh.  I messed up.

I’ve only met one Christian woman that I truly wanted to be like. She was the wife of a Navigators Bible teacher back in 1989. She was and still is the sweetest woman I’ve met. She was soft spoken. Very likable. Hospitable. I don’t know if she was always like that. That’s just how she presented herself during Bible study. I expect she was though…

I’ve used women as a sort of mirror. I would asked the Lord, do I act like that? I’m not like that, am I? Am I like that with others? Do I talk down to others like that? Am I that vain? Am I that selfish? I didn’t compare myself to these women. I didn’t judge them. I just wanted to check myself. We tend to be reflections of our reference group, or groups. The world knows this too clearly. The only person I want to reflect in thought and behavior and in interactions with others – is Jesus Christ. It’s not an easy thing to do when we are influenced by so many other forces.

Ephesians 4:17-24 “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

When my husband and I travel we make sure to check our vehicle, make sure all the lights are working, tires are good, oil is good and so on. As a Christian woman, I want to make sure that I examine myself – in daily interactions. If not, the Lord will examine me and He might find me falling short in areas where I feel confident. Why? because this flesh always wants to resurrect, to revert back to “inherent qualities.”

Psalm 139:1-4; 23-24 says, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Taming the tongue… not an easy thing for a woman to do.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Being content … not an easy thing for anyone to do when the world is continually selling us things we don’t want, don’t need and can’t afford. Yet, we constantly whine and frustrate ourselves because we want something we can’t have. We walk over people, we use people to get what we want. Even people who have nothing are hard-pressed to settle for their lot. So whatsoever is in my heart, whether I have much, or nothing – that’s what will spew out of my mouth.

Jude 1:16 ESV These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

I need to never forget what the Scripture says about this heart of mine. 

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

I know – now – that apart from Christ, nothing good dwells in me. As I wait on God’s return I pray that He will keep me, that He will give me the grace to accept His will for my life, to be content in all things. What’s in my heart is the one thing I want the Lord to keep in check. To God be the glory!

Thanks for reading. Be blessed.

Self-control – In me I trust

It is about 2 am in the wee hours of the morning. I finally finished reading the first five books of the Bible and what a revelation it was. I think the most resounding revelation, for me, was that the God of the Old Testament, the God that is criticized for initiating so much violence against humanity is the same God that gave His only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, His creation. God in all His glory took responsibility for His creation.  He gave us the first look at the fierceness and compassion capable in parenting. Yes, to God be the glory.

As sinful creatures we have an innate desire to be in control, to provide for our own needs through our own abilities. Blind trust is difficult, especially when trusting in God whom we cannot see, feel, or touch. Jesus came to do the will of the Father. He was obedient to the cross. Self-control was never an issue, because all He considered was the will of the Father.

Our first challenge as believers is giving up our need for control. The flesh wants it, if not demands it. Others alike expect you to take control of your life, your desires, if not to embrace your desires, and your walk with God. We believe there is always a degree of control that we must have, but I don’t think that’s how God meant it. He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” this implies obedience, not self-control. For every action there is a consequence. God was always testing His people to see if they would obey Him. We obey His commands out of fear and reverence, respect and yes even habit.

This is what the Lord shared with me, so when I finished writing everything down I went back to bed.

In the morning I awoke and the message continued.

As infants and children we learn self-control. As newly born humans, it’s the flesh that drives our behavior until we learn obedience.

An infant that cries for food, for a diaper change, or feels ill and wants attention the babe knows no other way of communicating other than crying, this is the flesh demanding. When a baby takes its first step, it opens up a whole new world, and he wants to go everywhere. He takes a few steps here and there. He has no concept of danger. His little body wants to go. He fights any restraint. It is up to the parent to put up safety guards and establish limits to keep him mobile, yet safe.

A toddler has the worst of times because all he wants is his way. You hear people refer to these behaviors as the terrible two’s, but the child is learning obedience, patience, sharing, etc.. As we grow, we learn to bring the flesh under submission, we come to expect certain things, so the flesh learns not to be so demanding. The flesh no longer dictates because it knows that certain things will take place that satisfy its needs. The need for sustenance is a great example. we know that mom will fix breakfast, lunch and dinner.  As the flesh hungers, what we learn is patience, to wait. When we lack self-control we gorge ourselves while waiting for dinner, and then eat a complete meal.

Self-control we learn as children. Self-control is about behavior and when we have the mind of Christ, the mind of Christ only wants to do the will of the Father. Having the mind of Christ allows God to always be in control.

Self-control is carnal mindedness. It has to do with the self, I, me, my, the flesh, it’s desires, it is never satisfied.  From an early age, if basic needs are not met, if limitations are not set, the child never learns self-control. The flesh then goes into overdrive to satisfy its desires.

The mind of Christ is focused on the things of God. The flesh is put to death. We are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We are to give the devil no ground. Surrender is not easy.