Unnecessary Attachments (Part II)

Sometimes we confuse being attached to someone with being committed to them. Jesus walked with His disciples for 3 1/2 years. He was committed to them from day one, but He didn’t allow ungodly attachments in His relationships. His relationship with His disciples changed over time. The truth is that commitment looks different in different seasons and so should the attachments.

True Discernment (Part V)

Jesus warned us about the hirelings among His sheep. He also spoke about wolves in sheep’s clothing. (See Matthew 7:15 & John 10:12).  These kinds of people are going to be around us, but how do we discern them successfully!?

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

To discern wolves and hirelings,  it first involves our continual desire to grow in the word of God. Those who put the word of God above the word of man are going to have a greater chance of identifying the hirelings and the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

On the other hand, those who have a celebrity-oriented mentality and quote a preacher more than they quote the scripture are in danger of being deceived. They have learned to rely on man for God’s truth, so when the integrity of the message changes, they are still following the personality not discerning that the message is no longer authentic.

Second, we need to exercise our senses as the above passage tells us.  Just as physical exercise cannot be done by others for us, neither can discernment be done by someone else for us. Others can teach, coach, and encourage us, but we are the only ones who have to exercise our body in order to keep it healthy and strong. Similarly, no one else can do the discerning for us. We cannot rely on others to discern what is good and evil.

If we rely on others for discernment, we will remain weak, unskilled,  and susceptible to being deceived. Our confidence in others’ judgment should not minimize the importance of exercising our own spiritual senses and learning to discern between good and evil.  When people rely on others’ discernment, they remain child-like in various areas of life.

For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  2Timothy 3:6-7

Third, we need to avoid being gullible. Both men and women can be gullible. Those who are gullible are easily persuaded about something. Discerning people are not gullible. They ask a lot of questions and try to discern the motives.

Furthermore, we need stay away from those who flatter us and tell us how special and capable we are. This means we have dealt with our lusts, yearnings, and desires  so we are not baited by others’ flattery. What is the motive of the flattery? Are they trying to encourage you to rise higher in Christ or are they trying to make you discontent with your current circumstances?

Based on the above passage, gullible people think they lack knowledge. Instead, they need to exercise their discernment, so they can gain a heart of understanding and avoid falling for various claims someone makes.

I have seen individuals being manipulated, and they did not even know what was happening to them.  They relied on their natural senses, affection, and familiarity with the person, and they completely missed the person’s manipulation. Generally, the manipulators are smart enough to give it time and earn people’s trust before they manipulates the person.

If we are going to be discerning people, we need to pay more attention to someone’s actions than words. If people’s actions are not matching up with their words, it should raise a flag for us.

Regardless of our level of relationship, we cannot abdicate our responsibility for being discerning. This is especially important if we are in a leadership role. Our allegiance to Christ and His flock should supersede our natural affections. We need to remain alert and discerning for the sake of the Kingdom, so the sheep can be protected.

Reflect, Remember, and Resolve

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

In David’s era, Kings evaluated their strength by the number of their chariots and horses. However, King David knew that chariots and horses were not the measure of his success or power. Many times God had delivered him when he owned none of those things, and he knew unless God protected him, his possessions had no power to deliver him nor to protect him! Therefore, King David’s trust was in the Lord and he remembered the Lord for His mighty power on his behalf!

In this day and age, most of us don’t have any chariots or horses, but people still put their trust in people or things. The chariots and the horses of our day could be high-paying jobs, impressive education, co-dependent relationships, connections to high places, nice retirement, or a beautiful house! While those worldly things are nice, they are not the answer to life or Godliness! They cannot protect or deliver one from evil. They cannot provide discernment in choosing between right and wrong nor can they bring health and wholeness to a person. Without the Lord we can do nothing! As Paul stated, in Him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28 a). The Lord is the one who gives us strength in the body, soul, and spirit, and He is the one who leads us in the way we should go!

Similar to David, we also are to remember the Lord and His mighty work among us! At the close of 2019, it is good to reflect on this past year and remember God’s mercy and grace in our lives. How has the Lord directed, provided, and delivered you in this past year!?

In addition, evaluate this past year and determine if you had your version of chariots and horses that you trusted in. Was there anything that stole your focus from the Lord having the first place in your life!? Prayerfully, resolve what you could do better and improve upon in the new year. Is it having more regular quiet time with the Lord? Is it to make more time for loved ones? Does social media take too much of your time? Are there certain thought patterns that need to be broken off, so you can live in more joy and peace in life? Is it getting more exercise? Is it eating healthier? Is it saying “no” to distractions, so you can remain focused on your priorities?

Once you determine the areas that the Lord is leading you to improve upon, share your goals with a friend and develop a mutual accountability. Every couple of months, check in with each other and see how the other one is doing.

As we are about to begin a new decade, let us wean ourselves away from worldly chariots and horses and place our focus on more intimacy with the Lord! Have we significantly matured in the last ten years? What were the obstacles to growth? What needs to change in order for growth to occur? Those are all important questions to think about as we are heading into the new year!