The Principle of Sowing & Reaping

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“Do not be deceived:

God will not be mocked,

a man will reap what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

I love how often God speaks to us in the Bible about the importance of reaping and sowing while we are here on earth.  This is possibly one of the most powerful spiritual principles to understand, because it impacts almost every area of our life and even into eternity!

And side note: I’m currently reading these books pictured.  Two I’ve read before, but commenter Earl suggested a new one, “Ungodly Rage,” and so I picked it up ASAP.  All three have to do with this principle of reaping and sowing – very interesting to see it applied to our modern day.

Here is the rest of the passage in Galatians 6:7-10:

“Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

So we must not get tired or weary of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up.”

It amazes me that we are warned here, “God will not be mocked!”  We have to take this principle seriously, and live as though we firmly believe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in this life.  When we sow things in the flesh, we are going to, for certain, reap the consequences of that later on in another season of our life.  This is something that has the capacity to be a beautiful opportunity to sow into the hearts of others around us, however, we should also have a healthy fear of the potential for negativity and darkness coming back to us, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The Bible actually has many examples we can learn from where people sowed sin in another’s life, and then had to reap that same sin coming back onto their own heads later on.  It’s a mysterious Jewish principle from the Old Testament, that God will bring back someone’s actions onto their own heads if they’ve wronged or even planned in their heart to wrong someone.

“Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster and do not appropriate their possessions in the day of their disaster.

For the Day of the LORD is near, against al the nations.

As you have done, so it will be done to you;

what you deserve will return on your own head.”

Obadiah 13:13b, 15

So we see this in the Old Testament (and in many more places than just Obadiah), as well as in the New Testament in Galatians (the opening verses).  Modern churches, you could even say modern “Christianity,” teaches that this principle of reaping and sowing, especially the negative aspect, is only relegated to Old Testament earning of God’s approval.  In truth, it is more like a timeless Truth, which is why we see it both in the Old and New Testaments, because regardless of whether or not we are saved, we are still bound by earthly (and even spiritual) ramifications for our decisions.

In other words, even if we’re saved, Galatians tells us, “God will not be mocked,” we’re still going to reap what we sow.

***

Think about all the biblical examples of traps that so many people in the Scriptures left for others they were trying to harm.  They ended up falling into their own traps, and what was intended to harm others, actually ended up happening in the exact same manner to them!  This is not to say that God-fearing people cannot be harmed by evildoers, though.  Here are just a few examples off the top of my head:

  • Haman in his hatred and envy of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, ending in being hanged on the very same gallows he had built for Mordecai to hang on!
  • Nabal in his treatment of David, ending in Nabal’s death because of his insults!
  • Daniel’s accusers getting him thrown into the lions’ den, then being thrown in themselves after the truth is finally outed!
  • Hagar treating Sarah (her mistress) with contempt when she thought she had the upper hand, then being subject to Sarah disciplining her extremely harshly (and God commanding Hagar to go back and submit to that mistreatment as part of her reaping what she had sown in Sarah’s heart).
  • Saul’s treatment of David, his envy and trying to kill him, ending up losing everything he was trying to keep – his kingdom and his life – being killed himself, but not at David’s hand.

And many many more.  God has an extremely accurate measure of justice.  He admits this several times to us in His Word, and that He cares very much about seeing that justice is done.  This simple, yet profound principle of reaping and sowing, is a way He carries out His justice here on earth.

There’s also a extremely important point we should be aware of and that is that: we will often reap MORE than what we have sown!  This is both good thing and a bad thing, depending on if you’ve sowed good or bad things in life!

If you’ve sowed good in the way of giving and generosity, the Bible does tell us that you will reap more.  I should note that doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap more financially, more in the way that you will be lifted out of living under a curse, and will reap more blessings in your life because of your faithfulness to sow.

“By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions, you are suffering under a curse, yet you – the whole nation – are still robbing Me.  Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house.

Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts.

See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.

I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the LORD of Hosts.”

Malachi 3:8b-12

And from the Parable of the Sower –

“Consider the sower who went out to sow seed….

other seed fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100 times, some 60 times, and some 30 times what was sown.  Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 13:8

But if you sow bad things (sin), the Bible also says that, when the time is right, you will reap MORE of that sin than what you actually sowed.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love;

break up your untilled ground.

It is time to seek the LORD until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

You who have sowed wickedness and reaped injustice;

you have eaten the fruit of lies.

Because you trusted in your own way, and in your large number of soldiers,

the roar of battle will rise against your people, and all your fortifications will be demolished in a day of war.”

Hosea 10:13-14

In the book Earl suggested, Ungodly Rage, which is about the “hidden face of Catholic feminism,” it is clear that “you have eaten the fruit of lies,” is directly linked with these Catholics in the book sowing wickedness.  The truly unfortunate fact of this spiritual principle is this reaping more of what has been sown, especially in this case.  They sow wickedness and eat the fruit of lies, and reap an entire war.

“Indeed, they sow wind and reap the whirlwind.

There is no standing grain; and what does sprout fails to yield flour.”

Hosea 8:7

Wind may be annoying (and in truth, is sowing literally nothing), but look how much more was reaped!  A whirlwind came back on them, increasing dramatically the force and consequences of what they sowed.

And we also know that when we sow sin, the end result, the final reaping, is death.

“Then after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:15

 

So what should we do?

Sow in righteousness, sow in mercy, sow in good deeds, sow in repentance, sow in Bible reading and prayer.  Sow goodness and gentleness into the hearts of family, friends, and enemies.

And always remember that bad things can be sowed… lusts, sins of all kinds, fear, envy, pride, etc. and when you sow something, you WILL reap it later on, and with a terrible increase of more than the sin that you sowed.

Every person is actually a sower and a reaper!  Whether you want to be or not, your actions are extremely powerful spiritually, and they not only have real life consequences, but spiritual consequences that are deep and mysterious and hard to comprehend.  You do not have control over those consequences and what they’ll be or look like!  So this is a critical warning about how important it is to understand this and avoid sowing sin into the lives of others.

What is often sowed in tears, will be reaped in joy-

Sometimes doing the work of sowing good things faithfully, is hard and tempting to give up.  Raising children could be a good example of just how hard it can be sometimes to see our end result.

Nevertheless, we need to sow in faithfulness, trusting in God’s will and ultimate decision on what to do with what we sow.

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.

Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed,

he will surely come back with shouts of joy,

carrying his sheaves he’s gleaned.”

Psalm 126:5-6

I’ve personally found that this is true.  What is sown in tears, will be reaped in a later season (sometimes years after the fact) in joy, as you’ve been given the gift of seeing it redeemed.  Sometimes this is doing a work God’s given you to do, sometimes it is finally seeing vindication.

The Reaping of Your Righteousness Shining like the Dawn-

For me personally, standing on God’s promises remind me of how powerful He is, and how trustworthy He is.  We can faithfully sow, and never worry that He doesn’t notice.

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

For they wither quickly like grass

and wilt like tender plants.

*

Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in Him, and He will act,

making your righteousness shine like the dawn, 

your vindication like the noonday.”

Psalm 37:1-2,5

Stephanie

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They Will Be Known for Their Love

The past few months, maybe even this past year, has been quite a journey for me spiritually.  I’ve been convicted, in August/September of this year, of not focusing on what God wanted me to focus on, of continually getting too easily distracted, or using the time God’s given me unwisely or at the very least, not maximizing its potential to do what I should be doing for Him.  Since that time, I’ve implemented many changes in my life.  It’s been such an amazing, beautiful journey.

And since I was starting a basic journal, almost a daily diary of sorts, to track my emotions/moods as I knew I was grieving a loss and wanted it not to unknowingly affect me, I now have pages and pages of lessons learned, prayers prayed, scriptures and sermon notes, spiritual growth moments, and acknowledgments of gratitude almost every night.  I recently looked back in my prayers from a couple of months ago, and found that I had asked God if He would teach me how to appropriately respond to people who insult, provoke, or mock my words, or my ministry.

And when I read that prayer, I realized with joy that He’s answered me in this!  Our God is such a faithful God.

Yesterday, at my sweet, wonderful, I-can’t-say-enough-great-things-about-them women’s Bible study, we were discussing how our failures to be all God wants us to be can either define us, and hinder our growth, or be used to refine us, and develop us into better Christians.

By taking me through this journey this past year, even in my failings and shortcomings, my own lack of discernment in responding to sinful or evil people in ways that weren’t helpful, God’s been using my weaknesses to refine me.  It’s amazing to have a physical journal with all of the notes in it that follow this growth path to grace and more wisdom.

I worried too much about what other people thought, when they misunderstood my motives or even accused me of having terrible motives that I knew were not true, I wanted to correct them and show them they weren’t acting godly.  I hated seeing injustice continue, with no one being brave or godly enough to call it out.  I didn’t trust or understand that God didn’t want me being worried about all these things.  That even focusing my attention on them was derailing my purpose and not doing what God wants, it wasn’t submitting to God.  Caring too much about the verdict of what others thought about my ministry, or me, or my life became way too high a priority, above pursuing God and what HE wanted for me.

But He used ALL these things, my failures in responding correctly, my seeing people I trusted use and twist my words I said to them, my seeing people actually lie about what I said to fit their agenda – my trying and failing to intervene on my own behalf – all this was useless, and yet useful in teaching me the goal of His lesson.

To not be afraid.  To trust in Him.

When it was all too much, and I prayed that He would just make it stop, He clearly spoke to me in my spirit saying

“My grace is sufficient for you, even in this.”

There are some trials that He will not immediately deliver us from because He has a very specific lesson for us to learn in them, and so sometimes he keeps us in a position that’s painful, or leaves a thorn in our side, so that we can be refined in the pain of it.

I realized I was reacting in Fear.  Fear of not being approved of by everyone.  Fear of being written about negatively and having other people turn away from me.  Fear of being mocked or insulted and having others influence or ruin my reputation.

I’m not defined by how I responded poorly at times, instead, He’s used it to teach me better ways – His own ways.  I’m excited in that I’ve now had opportunities to put these new ways into practice, making Him pleased with how I’m choosing to respond now.  It’s making me into a more graceful, fearless woman.

It’s making me into a more peaceful woman – I didn’t realize that all my striving to defend my own reputation, or correct misunderstandings, or confront mockers, or go to others to get them to see my “side” wasn’t pursuing peace.  I thought I WAS pursuing peace in trying to make everything better, trying to influence women who mock to be better themselves.  I didn’t realize that this wasn’t done using God’s power, and that it only negatively influenced my own spirit.

What makes a woman truly beautiful?

God wants women to have a gentle, peaceful, fearless spirit.  Or in His own Word, 1 Peter 3:1-6

“A peaceful gentle spirit… that does not give way to fear.”

When I choose to respond slowly, with godly wisdom and assurance, when I first go to Him and ask Him “How should I respond to this, if at all God?”  I please my Father in Heaven with submitting to Him.

Submitting to Him is acknowledging that He is in control.  I am not.  And when I try to control all these outcomes, I’m sending Him the message that I don’t want to obey Him, that I don’t trust Him to do what’s right, that I don’t think He’s enough.  I had NO idea I was disrespecting God Himself like this, but it truly has been quite a journey.

I’ll post again on some more things I’ve learned over this year, thank you for reading!!

Abigail – The Heart of the Matter

I hope you readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I feel like I’m still overflowing from the joy and happiness of spending time with beloved family members, eating so many delicious foods, and enjoying each other!  We got to see my brother again, it’s been a few months since we’ve seen him, and it was so good to see how well he’s doing.  He’s been growing in his own journey of masculinity for a couple of years now, going through various phases of pro-masculine awareness, and it was just so wonderful to see him doing so well!  We all had so much fun together, and there were several times I laughed until I cried 😀

I’m grateful for this involuntarily-imposed break, it’s given me more time to think about the way David, Nabal, and Abigail’s situation played forth.  How can a good, intelligent, godly woman do what Abigail did and be honored, even rewarded for it?

Since there seems to be so much to cover, and for time’s sake in writing for me (and reading for you), I’ll break this topic up into a series, with Abigail – The Heart of the Matter, being Post 1.

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I’ve seen many conflicting interpretations when researching it this past week; quite a few say that Abigail is the prime example of a wife that was unsubmissive and disrespectful to her husband, therefore giving us the perfect example of cases in which the wife isn’t to submit.  Here is an excerpt from a woman’s blog that promotes this idea,

Abigail is not what we would call a leader, but she is hailed precisely because she took the lead in a crisis situation.  Had Abigail followed the rules of wifely submission, she would have honored her husband’s commands, and then everyone in her household would have died.  I recently watched a video clip where John Piper (a Reformed pastor and Complimentarian) urged women to submit to their husbands unless/until the husbands wanted their wives to sin- even in situations of abuse!  But here, Abigail is praised for doing the exact opposite.   Her story proves that even in the intensely patriarchal culture of ancient Israel, there is a limit to wifely submission.

I’ve also seen interpretations in the past where Abigail is accused of being disrespectful because of how she talks to David about Nabal.  Hopefully I’ll be able to address both of these misconceptions from our point of view (my husband’s and mine) in this one post – although their situation is so complex there may be something you readers would like to also point out – please chime in, this topic is very deep and confusing to many Christians.  So if you are reading this and have something to add to the discussion, feel free to do so!

***

First, let’s just look at the biblical passage starting in 1 Samuel 25:

Samuel died, and all Israel assembled to mourn for him, and they buried him by his home in Ramah.  David then went down to the Wilderness of Paran.

A man in Maon had a business in Carmel; e was a very rich man with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and was shearing his sheep in Carmel.  The man’s name was Nabal, and his wie’s name, Abigail.  The woman was intelligent and beautiful, but the man, a Calebite, was harsh and evil in his dealings.

While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep, so David sent 10 young men instructing them, “Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, greet him in my name.  Then say this:

‘Long life to you, and peace to you, to your family, and to all that is yours.  I hear that you are shearing.  when your shepherds were with us, we did not harass them and nothing of theirs was missing the whole time they were in Carmel.  Ask your men, and they will tell you.  So let my young men find favor with you, for we have come on a feast day.  Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David.'”

David’s young men went and said all these things to Nabal on David’s behalf, and they waited.  Nabal asked them “Who is David?  Who is jesse’s son?  Many slaves these days are running away from their masters. Am I supposed to take my bread, my water, and my meat that I butchered for my shearers and give them to men who are from I don’t know where?”

 

The hearts of these men matter greatly here.  David has a beautiful heart, a generous heart, and a good heart – and it is especially revealed in his request to Nabal.  His request speaks blessings over Nabal, and blessings over his household.  His words and actions displayed the goodness of his character– his men didn’t have to watch over Nabal’s shepherds, they could have even bothered them or stolen from them, but David had integrity and made sure his men did what was right in this particular cultural situation.  Nabal’s men described David’s army as being a “wall” around them, protecting them and giving them security as they worked.

David was on the cusp of becoming king, indeed he had just spared Saul’s life in a battle, and even received a blessing from his enemy, as Saul acknowledges that David was more righteous than him, that David repaid him with goodness when Saul only did evil to him.  Saul even acknowledges to David as he spares his life, that he knew for sure now, that David would become king, and that the kingdom of Israel would be established in his hand.  Saul asked for David to spare his family and descendents, and David graciously promises (and later fulfills that promise) to do so.

Requesting in a gentle, humble way to be added in their feasting, but only given whatever Nabal could spare or afford, was a modest, gracious and humble response.

Nabal, however, shows the depth of the wickedness in his heart in his reply to David.

Nabal insults him in a particularly ugly way – “Who is David?  Who is Jesse’s son?  Many slaves these days are running away from their masters. Am I supposed to take my bread, my water, and my meat that I butchered for my shearers and give them to men who are from I don’t know where?

Nabal no doubt knows who David is, and even more than likely understands what and who David will become on some level, but he shows his wickedness in how he chooses to slander David, condemn and disregard his obvious good character, so that he would not be required to give him anything from their prosperous feast.  A feast that David and his men in part ensured was protected and made possible!  But Nabal knows David still hasn’t become king, and so because of his position and wealth, it appears that Nabal takes advantage of David’s humbling himself, opening himself and his men in their vulnerability in asking to receive food from Nabal, and insinuates that David is no better than a runaway slave.

In reading Nabal’s reply, one can almost taste the evil he speaks to David’s men – this is a man who does not care how his words impact others, and feels free to tarnish the reputation of a good, humble, and eventually powerful man.  Even though David has an army of men with him, Nabal doesn’t even seem to comprehend how his words may provoke violent natural consequences.

His foolishness is in believing that his wicked actions will never come back to haunt or harm him, and that, as we’ve seen, is one of the hallmarks of the Proverbial fool.

Even wise people can and may act in very foolish ways at times, however, they are open to feeling conviction, open to a wise and well-founded rebuke, and while they may have acted in foolishness, they often feel deep shame for their actions.  This shame or guilt is godly and produces in them the fervent desire to do better, indeed, to become a better Christian.

A Proverbial fool requires a lot more in the name of consequences to ever feel even a smidgen of shame for their wickedness.  Instead of being open to acknowledging their wrongs against others, and apologizing or changing their disastrous ways, a Proverbial Fool holds fast to their arrogance, and believes their wicked words are either well-deserved, or that they rightly describe another’s character.  In the case of Nabal, he may have thought that David deserved the insult, condemnation, and humiliation of being compared to a runaway slave for even asking to share in Nabal’s feasting and wealth.  Or he truly may have believed that David in fact was comparable to a runaway slave, and would eventually amount to nothing in his life.  A Proverbial fool has a way of overlooking the potential of someone they may despise for no reason.  Even though it was clear that an evil spirit was using Saul against David, Nabal may have thought that Saul was still the rightful king, and that David condemned himself and his reputation in falling out of Saul’s graces.

But why did Nabal say those things to David even though it is highly likely he knew exactly who David was, and that David would be offended by his careless words?

Proverbs 18:2 ESV 

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Nabal didn’t care to take into consideration the goodness of David’s words to him or actions in generously watching over his flock and shepherds.  He enjoyed airing his insulting and condemning opinions of David to the very men who helped provide Nabal’s prosperity, fully knowing those words would be repeated back to David.  Fool’s do not take delight in understanding a person or situation, but they love hearing their own voice or thoughts.

Proverbs 29:11 ESV 

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Nabal gave full vent to his thoughts about David – insulting him, mocking him, even provoking him – daring him – to react in kind.  We know we are acting foolishly when we give “full vent” to our emotions without care of acting godly with wisdom in how we respond when angry.

Proverbs 18:6 ESV 

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.

Because of Nabal’s words, he invites great harm on not only himself, but all the male servants in his household who may have better character.  Nabal’s folly endangers not only himself, but innocent people as well.  His provocation of David and his army invites them to come and destroy him.  Fool’s regularly mouth-off at the wrong time, or offend people who have particular power over their life or livelihood, causing themselves to lose their job or even their life depending on the degree they provoke a person.

Proverbs 29:9 ESV 

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

Nabal mocks and belittles David and his great accomplishments, no doubt if David was to “argue” with Nabal, he would never be able to get through to him how wrong his actions were.  David was well-known around the country for his success in battles years before this, however, Nabal still feels arrogant enough to take advantage of David’s humbling himself before him.

Proverbs 18:7 ESV 

A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Nabal’s words condemn him and his entire household in the anger they provoke in David.  Because the Proverbial fool excuses their lack of self-discipline, their lips ensure their demise or departure from acting godly.

Proverbs 10:23 ESV 

Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.

Nabal we’ll see later, not only enjoyed mocking David and his army in their time of hunger, need, and humility, but he then went on to enjoy his feasting and drinking wine.  He may have remembered how David “begged” for food from his table, and laughed to himself as he enjoyed his bounty as if it was a great joking matter.  The Proverbial fool loves to mock, make jokes of those who are righteous or acting godly – mocking their humility or goodness, even calling their righteous words pesky or annoying.

 

The Proverbial Fool provokes, it’s how they choose to find their enjoyment of life, and both Christians and non-Christians may act in this way.  If you watch a Proverbial fool for long, you will undoubtedly see that they actively seek out arguments to get into where they gleefully insult another believer or person, without a care to how their words will impact their future or the other person.

The Proverbial Fool feeds off of questioning another’s character to “get away” with continuing in their wickedness.  If Nabal can make David appear to be no better than a runaway slave, someone worthy of death anyway, then he doesn’t feel the guilt of not allowing David and his men to take part in his feast.  A wise person recognizes a person acting in righteousness and authenticity, but the fool only deals in insults and ridicule, and provokes to anger even a person committing themselves to doing the right thing, and living with integrity. 

David’s response to the Fool was rage, and immediate plans to commit violence.

I don’t think we should overlook this crucial part of the story, as it is actually a common response – a human response – in reacting to a fool.  A Proverbial fool will do almost everything they can think of to insult or bait a righteous person into an argument with them.  They will lie about them, call them every name in the book, mock them, try to slander their reputation to others, and it’s normal for a person facing this kind of behavior to become extremely angry, try to defend themselves against blatant lies being told about them, or otherwise try to reason or argue with the Fool.  Of course, fighting with a fool using any kind of natural response that a wise person would respond well to, doesn’t work, it would only be fulfilling their deep craving for drama and the feeling they get from controlling another’s response with their provocations.

Even though David’s innate response was wrong, it doesn’t mean it’s not understandable.  Folly seems like it is contagious.  When one person sins against another, insulting or mocking or degrading their character as Nabal did, it can easily incite a person to respond out of character and against their better judgment.

Abigail protects her husband in his foolishness, his household servants from death, and David from reacting rashly, and having innocent blood on his hands due to a mere fool’s careless provocations.

Abigail’s heart and actions will taken apart in the next post.

 

 

 

Staying Focus

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am, and have been, having a hard time for the past few months in the discipline of staying focus.  There are so many times when I’ve been sorely tempted to stray off onto tangents, and even when these tangents are supposedly “good things,” it became obvious that in saying “Yes” to entertaining them, I was saying “No” to what I actually needed to be doing instead.

With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.

When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path.  When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.

When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing.  The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time.  To stay focus.

There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation.  These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival.  And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.

When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions.  I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life!  The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.

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Staying focus is not only a discipline of physically obeying by doing the right things, it is a mental obedience to adhere our thought-life to the right things.  Our thoughts eventually determine our actions.  If I am constantly (or even sometimes) thinking about things I shouldn’t be, wandering into places to look for contention with people I know I have friction with already, I will eventually end up following through on these thoughts with actions that take me off course.  I have to be mentally on course, staying focus, if I ever want to achieve and keep my physical obedience on course and staying focus.

Here are some verses that I’ve been dwelling on for the past few months regarding Staying Focus, from the Amplified Bible, because I love it and am a complete nerd who actually talks this way (with parenthesis because I’m awkward lol).  If you’ve never read the Amplified version, I encourage you to take a look at these scriptures with a fresh eye and mind attentive to hearing them explained in depth based on the actual language used in the text:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man) produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

Why Gossip Backfires

“Personal integrity generates trust….  Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.  People can seek to understand, remember the little things, keep their promises, clarify and fulfill expectations, and still fail to build reserves of trust if they are inwardly duplicitous.

“Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty.  Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words….  keeping promises and fulfilling expectations….

“One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.  In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present.  When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.  …

“(when you gossip) You may get the golden egg of temporary pleasure from putting someone down or sharing privileged information, but you’re strangling the goose, weakening the relationship that provides enduring pleasure in association.”

Confrontation takes considerable courage, and many people would prefer to take the course of least resistance, belittling and criticizing, betraying confidences, or participating in gossip about others behind their backs.  But in the long run, people will trust and respect you if you are honest and open and kind with them.”

Not everyone will appreciate someone who refuses to participate in gossip or cruel jokes of others – in fact, I’ve encountered a few people in life who mandate that their friends act this way, and will make you out to be an Enemy if you disapprove of their behavior!  🙂  But what does that matter?  People who have this weakness in character are never truly happy anyway, and it is much better to be friends with those who you know would never stab you in the back.

In the work environment, it is devastating to your reputation to display this kind of behavior… associates or your employees will never fully trust you, and you risk losing their loyalty – and in business, loyalty is everything.

It is MUCH better to have integrity and keep people around you who you trust and who trust you – keep those few people close, don’t let them go.  They are treasures in this life… true gems.

 

(quotes from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)