Being Mindful of Our Choosing

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Photo credit to someone on the internet.

“Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7

Have you ever felt truly let down by those around you?  Have you looked around and seen people who should have been standing up for one another, tearing each other down?  Have you seen people who should have been doing right, doing wrong?  Have you been surprised by the response of someone else?  Has a friend or co-worker turned against you?  Are you feeling lost and perplexed?  Don’t be surprised.  You’re not alone.

This was all going on in Micah’s day and it still goes on today.  He even shares, “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” (Micah 7:5,6)  That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?  So are we to trust no one?  No, that’s not the point.  But our ultimate and final trust should not be in other people but in the LORD.

Micah follows these thoughts with this statement, “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”  The truth is that men and women fall short.  Men and women sometimes break promises.  But that’s not the worst part.  Sometimes, men and women choose to live life their own way, outside of God’s directions, and that just turns things topsy turvy because then people lose respect for their fellow people.  When you take God and His ways out of the picture it becomes an every man for himself mentality.  And when every man is for himself and not for God and others, he’ll do whatever it takes to uphold himself at the expense of those around him.

It’s sad, but it’s true.  It can happen on a mission team where just one person won’t submit in love.  Instead they choose to dislike someone else on the team.  They cling to that dislike so that every time they look at the other person, they see something to be despised.  They spread that feeling around to others on the team.  Division erupts.  People don’t show up for missions because of who is on the team.  There’s a heart of contempt and gossip.  There’s no desire to make restitution and work it out.  Where there should be pain because of a broken relationship, the one party chooses bitterness and to pass it on to other team members. 

It’s funny, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable of the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.  Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:21-26)

So, if this is what You said, Jesus, why don’t we live out Your words?  Why do we stand back and watch while others who profess to be believers murder their brothers and sisters in their hearts?  Why don’t we stand up like Micah?  Or, even worse, why do we choose to let ourselves murder in our hearts and minds those who were created in Your image?  Isn’t that like murdering You and Yours?

I think of all the times we coat our thoughts and deeds over with some kind of justification.  We’re good at making excuses.  It was there in the garden, it was in Israel in Micah’s day, and we still fall pray to it today.  We excuse ourselves and blame You for not doing it right.  At least Eve blamed the serpent as having deceived her and accepted her part of the blame in eating.  Adam actually blamed You God, for giving him the fouled up woman that he listened to, and then accepted part of the blame.  Isn’t that how it goes?  “If only they had done right, I would too.  Therefore, I’m justified in my wrongness. You should have kept them in line so I didn’t have to.”  Oh, really?

The way I read the story after the fall, Adam refused to trust Eve and respect her decisions, and Eve felt that lack of trust from Adam and looked for someone else to turn to who might trust her and respect her decisions.  You’d think we’d learn already that doing things our way screws everything up.  But humans are hard-headed and hard-hearted.  We’d rather often choose mistrust, bitterness, revenge, disrespect, manipulation, denial, justification, and control over love, forgiveness, repentance, and renewed relationship.

Here’s the truth, when You, God, said to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you,” and to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life…,” (Genesis 3:16,17) it wasn’t a curse on Adam and Eve.  You were simply stating the consequences of their choice.  Because they did this, this is the consequence.  And since that is the truth and that is the case then to me, that also means that God is saying to Adam and to Eve and to the Israelites and to us that if we choose Him and His ways, we can return to living a better life, the one we were created for.

Eve was deceived by a serpent.  She maybe thought she could love Adam better by knowing more.  It’s still misplaced trust.  She can’t love Adam better outside of God.  Adam knew.  He wasn’t deceived.  He made a choice- God or Eve.  He chose Eve and then regretted it and was angry at God.  It was a break in trust.  Any time we put our trust in any one or anything over God or other than God, we set ourselves up for a tragic fall.  But the good news is that we can choose rightly.  Like Micah, I can determine that “I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”  And even if I fall because of my enemy, “when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.”  The truth is, even in my righteousness I don’t sparkle one little bit next to God without His light shining through me.  I’m a sinner and I’m only made clean by You, Lord.  Like Job learned, and Micah, it’s worth bearing Your indignation because we know who we are and what we’ve done.  But I can bear it because You promise to plead my cause and execute judgment for me.  You promise to bring me out to the light and I’ll see Your vindication. (Micah 7:9)

You never had to vindicate me because I was guilty, just like Adam and Eve, and Micah and Job, and every person who has ever lived.  It wasn’t Your duty.  There was no clause that You had to do this.  But You did and You do.  You sent Jesus who was delivered up for our sin and raised for our justification.  Only Jesus’ sacrifice of holiness on the cross is a sufficient act of righteousness to meet the requirements and bring us back to relationship with You and our fellow man. 

I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t act like us.  If He had, He would have asked to be excused.  “Why should I die for them?  I’m holy.  I haven’t sinned.  How do they deserve this?  What about my rights?”  But He didn’t worry about His rights or what He deserved.  He didn’t even count it as an excuse to be equal to God.  But He humbled Himself for the glory of God and to save His people.  He didn’t entrust Himself to any person because He knew what was in man.  (John 2:24,25)  Instead, He loved us and bore God’s indignation for us because He trusted God first and foremost. 

What about me?  Who am I trusting?  Have I misplaced my trust?  Does it need to be returned to it’s rightful owner?  It’s my choice.  I can choose who or what to trust.  But I will pay the consequences of my choice.  I want to say like Joshua, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  But even though I make that choice, what if my relatives or friends or neighbors choose not to?  What then?  I will choose to trust You, Lord, because only You have the words of eternal life and Your words are life itself.  I choose to live and trust Your words and live and trust You.  Keep me ever mindful of Your words and my choosing.

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