Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Brass Tacks

 Being an immigrant who hails from a country whose language is basic, I’ve always been fascinated by the richness of the English language. Granted, Romanian is not as basic as Bantu, but as far as nuance goes, there isn’t much there to work with. Even so, we’ve had our share of poets and writers, and what we didn’t have in our toolbox of words, we borrowed from other languages and made our own.

Words have meaning, and the power of the word cannot be understated. While a harsh word might stir up anger, a soft word turns away wrath. Proverbs even goes so far as to say that death and life are in the power of the tongue, which is no small thing.

Just because we don’t like what a word means or implies, we cannot take it upon ourselves to transform it into something it was never intended to convey. By the same token, just because the flesh recoils at certain Scriptures, it does not mean we have the authority to twist them to the point that their meaning becomes uncertain and their light is dimmed.

When it comes to overcoming temptation, the Word tells us that we can and we must and that God has given us all the necessary tools to see this endeavor through to the end. That’s the one that gets some people, the end part. We can all start a race, no matter our physical condition. We can’t all finish that race; inevitably, some will fall by the wayside because either their heart, their lungs, or their will, will give out.

2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge, will give o me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

You fight to win, you run to finish, and you keep the faith throughout because the prizes are handed out at the finish line, not at the starting line. You can’t bribe your way to the finish line, you can’t cheat your way there, the path is clearly marked, and you must adhere to it, lest you be disqualified.

We’ve come to this perplexing crossroads where most professing Christians believe they can create their own race route, make it as short as they deem comfortable, stop for snacks and do some window shopping along the way, then get the gold when they declare themselves the winner. As I am forced to remind my kids at least a dozen times a week, you don’t get to make the rules. If you invent your own race, you’re not running His race.

Anyone running a race, ad running it to win, will do their best to have the right shoes, the proper clothing, and not carry anything on their person that would weigh them down. If you show up to a marathon in steel-toed boots, a parka, and a fur hat, chances are those who showed up in shorts and sneakers will outpace you to the finish line.

Although God never promised the race would be easy, there are certain virtues we can possess that make it less difficult. One of these is being full of the Spirit because only by being full of the Holy Spirit can you possess the fruit of the Spirit. Granted, it’s not the most popular of the fruit, but self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. We want to laude and heap praise on love, kindness, peace, and joy, but self-control also has its place, especially when overcoming temptation.

So many relapse and return to the mire because after they first succeeded in chasing the enemy away, they do not pursue being full of the Spirit. When the devil returns, he doesn’t see a No Vacancy sign on the door of their heart and strolls right in, bringing a few friends along for good measure.

There will always be a resident in the heart of man. You always have a tenant, an occupant, someone who dwells therein. Whether it’s the light or the darkness depends upon you.

Another way we can resist temptation is to avoid the situations, places, and individuals that the enemy can use to tempt us. That’s not revelatory by any means; it’s practical, but perhaps practical is what we need in today’s day and age. Nobody drove you to the club; you drove yourself. You can tell yourself you’re just there for the music, but then why are you freshly showered, manicured, quaffed, and made up?

Most people get in trouble because they are in places where they aren’t supposed to be, interacting with people that are detrimental to their spiritual walk. Even so, they won’t acknowledge this obvious truth because to do so would mean having to choose between following their flesh or following after Christ.

James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

If submitting to God and resisting the devil makes him flee from you, what would doing the opposite accomplish? A harsh truth is still truth. It is because men resist God and submit to the enemy that the enemy has free reign over their wants, desires, and lives. Rebellion is a cruel mistress and will take from you more than you were willing to part with.

The Bible tells us we are to flee evil, not limp, pretending we twisted an ankle, hoping it catches up to us and overtakes us. A matter of life and death is still a matter of life and death, no matter how much we pretend otherwise.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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