Show Me the Real!

Mark 16:14 NIV  Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

A short verse, quite easy to follow.  Why did it catch my attention this time?  These disciples stubbornly refused to believe what they hadn’t seen for themselves, and Jesus rebuked them, plain and simple.  Or is it?  If we “hear” Him rebuke as we have known rebuke ourselves, it is.  But, let’s “listen” more carefully to Jesus in His rebuke.

Jesus had already conquered death, hell, and the grave with His victory on the cross.  Satan no longer had the ability even to tempt Him to function with man’s mindset or attitude.  He couldn’t be tempted to be angry or sarcastic with them, despite their stubbornness.  In no way was He arrogant towards them, or judgmental.

Those things Jesus didn’t do in rebuke seem to be part and parcel of most rebukes today – even among Christians.  What are we missing?  Could it be as simple as motive?  Jesus’ motive was to bring the disciples up higher – out of the already dead old man and into the new man in Christ.  His motive was love, pure and simple.  He not only rebuked because of love, He also rebuked in love.  In this very love, He rebuked the disciples for choosing their old ways, then showed them His better and higher way in the next verses.

Mark 16:15-18 NIV He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

A longing arose from my spirit man as I cried out, “Show me what this looks like, Jesus!  I’ve never seen it Your way, and I’ve certainly never done it Your way.  Show me.  Let me hear it Your way from others.  Even when You’ve rebuked me in the past, I’ve heard a mixture of Your loving rebuke and the enemy’s taunting condemnation.  Help me hear only You in rebuke, Lord, that I will go forth in the greater and higher call to shine Your Light for others to find their way, too.  Show me the real, Lord!”

What I Learned from a Garbage Bin

Romans 15:2, 3 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  3 For even Christ did not please himself . . .

Romans 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

In our community, everyone has the same large, green garbage bins – the kind the trucks can pick up and dump without a human leaving the truck.  In addition, we have recycling bins that are emptied the same day as the garbage.  Most people dutifully remove both their bins from the street within a day of their emptying.  There are a few, however, who aren’t so prompt in the pick-up, and, frankly, it irritates me.

There was one neighbor who began leaving his bins streetside throughout the week, though it hadn’t always been this way.  At first, I was irritated week after week, seeing the green “decoration” every time I passed that way.  Then I remembered how much of a struggle this man has now with his own physical limitations and his wife in a wheelchair; so, I began to lug those bins down the driveway to their keeping places when I walked the dog.  (Please, don’t start thinking how thoughtful I am, for I’ll quickly prove you wrong. :))

I honestly don’t think I would have done anything about it if it didn’t bother me.  My motivation was not, as Christ’s, completely for the benefit of my neighbor.  While it wasn’t to make me feel good about myself for helping someone who could use the help, it was for personal benefit in a different way – to make me feel better by not having to look at the big green garbage cans.

Add to my wrong motive the fact that there is a grown granddaughter living in this home who is fully capable of helping with things such as the garbage, and any good attitude was gone.  I didn’t grouse (in my mind) while doing this “act of kindness” because of the elderly couple.  My grousing was about the granddaughter who should take on the responsibility, or on other nearby neighbors who could pitch in.  While entertaining all these thoughts, I did try to tell myself it must only bother me, so just find personal satisfaction in doing it.  I praise God that He wasn’t willing to leave me in this messy state!

In my regular Bible reading, the verses of Romans 15 began to minister to me about my garbage can attitude.  I know this is not what Paul had in mind with these verses, but the Lord used them that way for me.  It was time to get rid of the stinking attitude for good, not to stop being a helpful neighbor.  While I understood immediately, I wondered how to break out of this attitude until I came to the phrase, “in my service to God.”  There it was, plain and simple.  The reason for doing whatever I do is to serve my Lord and glorify Him.  It’s not up to me to determine other people’s motivations, or lack thereof.  It’s only my place to do what He gives me to do, serving Him while I serve others – regardless of who else might be able to do it.

There is a possibility that the Lord has crafted me in such a way as to be bothered by things like garbage cans still by the street long after pickup, knowing it will attract my attention to help a neighbor, ultimately serving and glorifying Him in the process.  I needed these verses to expose the ugly motives (for I had definitely seen them), but to root them out and return my focus to Him.  Oh, the glorious transforming power of His Word!  I’ll bet the next time I do whatever the Lord shows me, I will find much greater joy because it will be another opportunity to serve Him – all because of His Word.