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Be Careful What You Assume

16 Apr

During a stay at an expensive hotel in New York City, a man woke up in the Assumptions_LOLwithGod_Graphic-morguefilemiddle of the night with an upset stomach. He called room service and ordered some soda crackers.

Later, when the man looked at the charge slip, he was furious. He called room service and raged, “I know I’m in a luxury hotel, but $11.50 for six crackers is ridiculous!”

“The crackers are complimentary,” the voice at the other end coolly explained. “I believe you are complaining about your room number.” *

LOL!

The man’s assumption was absurd, and refuted.

Christians often make assumptions that are just as silly, and the Word of God refutes them.

Here are just four examples:

(1) The news or my friends will tell me all I need to know about life.

God’s Word tells us people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  Wise counselors can help us, but we need to be careful not to walk in the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1).

It’s always wise to compare what’s going on in your world (and the world) with the wisdom of scripture.

(2) If I’m godly enough, I won’t have any struggles.

A study of the life of Job should be enough to refute that.

But Jesus said we would have trials in this world (John 16:33). Our struggles are meant to develop character and make us more like Jesus (Romans 5:3-5), and to draw us closer to God, our only true hope and security (Psalm 62:5; John 10:28-29; Philippians 1:6).

(3) If I know and love the Lord, I won’t need people.

God didn’t create us to live outside a community.

People are God’s gift to us, to encourage us and help us grow, to bring comfort, to add wisdom, and to help us heal. He means for us to “bear one another’s burdens….” (Galatians 6:2).

Think about it. If we were meant to live a solitary existence, why did He give us all the “one another” scriptures?

(4) If I just make all the right choices, I’ll be a strong Christian.

This was one of my basic life assumptions. I mean, my whole ministry (Heart Choices Today) is about making wise, godly choices. And one of my blogs (Upgrade with Dawn) encourages wise choices too.

But God has been teaching me this important distinction: making choices is more than mere human will power. Will power can fall short because we are totally human. Instead, we need to surrender our whole self–mind, heart, will–to the Lord. We must have His power in our lives.

Sometimes, in ourselves, we just don’t want to do right. We have other loves or idols that keep us from making godly choices (Romans 7:22-24; Galatians 5:17)

We need the transforming power of Christ (Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 5:16-18) and the desire for holiness that comes from Him alone (Philippians 2:12-13).

Making right choices is the result of growth in Christ—not the other way around (Galatians 3:3).

There are many other assumptions we make that are based on lies the enemy of our soul feeds us daily. And if we keep on believing them, we may experience great regret.

That’s why it’s crucial to study the Word of God.

Know and apply scripture so you won’t be embarrassed with silly assumptions. 

Some questions to contemplate:

  • Do I know what I believe?
  • Where am I getting my information about life?
  • Do my assumptions square with and hold up under the scrutiny of scripture?
  • Have I redefined God’s Word to fit in with my assumptions or preconceived notions?

Paul gave instruction to Timothy that would be good advice for all of us:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV).

Knowing the truth will help you become holy (John 17:17) and wise (Psalm 19:7b).

Have you ever made an assumption and later found out it was false? How can the Word of God help that not to happen again?

 – *Humor: Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3945, 4-6-13; Graphic of crackers, courtesy of xandert, Morguefile

 – Dawn

Compassionate Candor

7 Feb

Sometimes candor, the quality of being totally frank, is helpful. Sometimes, it hurts.

I’m not sure what to think about this exchange!

“Soon after our last child left home for college,” the woman said, “my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. ‘You know, honey,’ I said sweetly, ‘Without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.’

“And my husband replied with a grin, ‘Honey, without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!” *

When we use candor, we are being open and honest with a person. But too often, the temptation is to become harsh or insensitive.CompassionateCandor

Paul tells us to become more like Jesus our conversations.

While the context of Ephesians 4:15 is the need to speak truth in doctrinal matters—that we must speak God’s truth rather than worldly philosophies, and do so lovingly—many counselors use this verse to remind Christ-followers how to speak to each other if they are to “grow up into every way into him . . . into Christ.”

Certainly, even without this verse, we know our speech is to be truthful, because truthfulness is part of God’s character. He is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 57:10). Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).

But Ephesians 4:15 says our speech must also be loving. And that’s not surprising, because God is love  (1 John 4:8).

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not speak with compassionate candor is our problem with pride.

  • We think we know it all.
  • We think we know more than others.
  • We think it’s our responsibility to set them straight.

Oh, how we need humility before we speak. Why?

1. Humility recognizes we have our own issues, our own struggles. That’s why Jesus encouraged people to consider their own problems before confronting others with the truth they may need to hear (Matthew 7:1-5). We’re not to judge others; God is the judge of human hearts. When we are mindful of (and even acknowledge) our own weaknesses and limitations, our hearer will be more receptive. This kind of authenticity also brings honor to the Lord.

And authenticity is a key word here. Pride and defensiveness will become evident in body language or tone of voice, even if our words sound “humble.”

2. Humility before speaking will communicate a Christ-like attitude. We are not to think of ourselves too highly, but to speak from a desire to serve others (see Romans 12:3 and Philippians 2:1-5).

3. Humility will allow us to listen first, choose our words carefully and not jump to any conclusions (James 1:19). Honesty must be accompanied by thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

4. Humility will allow us to be gracious, charitable, compassionate with our words. (Consider Luke 6:36-38.) The intention will not be to embarrass, but to help. [In the case of an erring believer, to goal is to restore! There is a proper way to speak truth in love, in that case (Matthew 18:15-17a).]

Humility is actually just part of speaking truth in love. Mary Kassian, author of Conversation Peace, said, regarding the kind of speech we need to share: “… tenderheartedness is just part of the equation, but you also have to add honesty in there, authenticity . . . humility and faithfulness.” **

Compassionate Candor is a matter of packaging truth for others in a way that will help and serve them and glorify God.

We must birth the truth in humility and wrap it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a love.

We practice this best in the home. How do we practice compassionate candor with a marriage partner? With our children?

Practicing Compassionate Candor:

1. Consider the most kind, diplomatic way to express a painful truth. Wrap it in love that the person will understand. Maybe you can even sandwich it between genuine praise and concern for the person’s perspective.

For example: “Sweetie, I appreciate your hard work in the yard this morning. Do you think you could put the tools away now? I know you don’t want all that stuff to get in the way or our neighbors seeing the pretty yard when they come home from work.”

2. But don’t think in terms of a formula: If I say this and this, he will do that and that. Just be genuine and speak the truth in love, but remember, your “packaging” of the truth may look different from situation to situation.

Kassian said, “People communicate in different ways, and so sometimes that’s just a matter of understanding , or sometimes understanding someone’s communication pattern. . . .” **

It often helps to ask questions for greater understanding before sharing your “truth” statement; but be careful to be wise and loving even in asking questions.

“You want to be very careful not to use loaded questions,” Kassian said, “or questions where you’re not asking a question but you’re passing judgement.” **

3. Don’t manipulate. Again, check your heart first. Are you humble? What’s your purpose?

4. Be alert to times your family members practice compassionate candor and praise it.

5. Be encouraging every day. Be sure you are practicing approval, genuine praise and gratitude so family members will be more open to the interaction of more difficult conversations.

Think about how you speak the truth in your home. Would a bit more humility encourage compassionate candor?

* Humor adapted from CybersaltDigest, 4-8-13

** From “Using Your Words to Heal,” https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/using-your-words-heal/

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Don’t Call It ‘Embellishment’

25 Jan

Pastor Mike was a wise old man. “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying,” he told his congregation. “To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17.”

HandsRaised_croppedThe following Sunday, Pastor Mike walked to the pulpit and looked over his flock. Just before he delivered his sermon, he asked for a show of hands.

“All right, people,” he said, “How many of you read Mark 17 this week?” Every hand went up.

“Now that’s interesting,” Pastor Mike said with a grin. “Mark only has 16 chapters. Now you know why I’m preaching on the sin of lying this week!” *

While that kind of lying is obvious, there’s another kind of lie that’s not. It’s called “embellishment.” Embellishment is a temptation for anyone, but especially communicators – even Christian ones.

When I traveled with a Christian ministry, people called it “evangelistically speaking.” Some speakers are known to pump up their evangelism statistics … as if God saving even ONE soul were not miraculous enough!brown and beige scroll textured border pattern

I caught myself embellishing the truth recently as I shared a story with a Christian friend. The story I had to share already had touches of the wonder of God all over it, but for some reason, I felt compelled to add to the story, to embellish it with extra details. It was all false “fluff” to make the story more appealing, I thought.

But later, as I contemplated why I did this, I believe the Spirit of God spoke to my heart: “The Devil is a liar, and you played into his hands. This was devilish embellishment.”

I didn’t like the sound of that – devilish embellishment. But isn’t that what embellishing the truth is? The more I thought about it, the more I knew God was convicting my heart. And with good cause.

It was Satan’s strategy from the beginning to ruthlessly misrepresent the words of God.

Sometimes Satan takes away from God’s Word; sometimes he adds to it. The Serpent (Satan) told Eve she would become like God if she ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:5); but all God had said to Adam was, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Satan embellished the truth to make a better story … to tempt Eve.

Revelation 22:18-19 warns people not to add to or take away from God’s Word. Some people choose to ignore that warning. They either overlook (ignore) parts of the scripture, or they make it say something it’s not. Some question it altogether! But God is clear when He says, “Don’t tamper with my words!”

Likewise, when we embellish our stories – especially our stories about how God worked – we’re tampering with the truth.

Why do we do this?

  1. We want people to admire us. Maybe we are insecure about our standing with people. We want them to think we are smart … knowledgeable … authoritative. We embellish to draw more attention, to garner praise for ourselves.
  2. We want people to remember us. If our stories are “better,” we think, they’ll be remembered and perhaps, quoted. We’ll become famous!
  3. We may even want people to be like us. And this is especially sad, because we should be pointing to Jesus. We should want people to be like Him!

Padding a story should never be called “embellishment.” And it’s not just exaggeration. It is lying, pure and simple. (Actually, it’s not so pure. It’s wrong, it’s foolish, and it’s all  rooted in pride!)

Satan, the Father of Lies (John 8:44), wants us to follow in his footsteps instead of following Christ, who is the Truth (John 14:6). Jesus, the greatest storyteller who ever lived, is our example. He knew how to wield the truth of scripture in creative ways. Sometimes He made up stories (parables) to teach a truth principle or make a point; but we never see Him “adding” to true stories.

The Word of God admonishes us to speak truth to each other (Ephesians 4:25). The next time I’m tempted to embellish a story, I’m going to stop, ask myself why I’m tempted … and then follow Jesus!

Whose example are you following? Are you struggling with exaggeration or embellishment of the truth? Ask the Lord to give you a truthful heart that only pours out truthful stories.

– Dawn

*Humor adapted from Christian jokes at broadcaster.org.uk

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