The error of my ways ∙∙

The error of my ways ∙

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. – 2 Timothy 3:16

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, propelled the team to victory, clinching three consecutive and a total of five NFL Championships in just seven years. He also secured the first two Super Bowl wins in 1966 and 1967. Lombardi was a master motivator and adept at utilizing reproof and correction to attain excellence.

“Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it ‘character in action.’

Mental toughness is essential to success.

Brains without competitive hearts are rudderless.

If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.

Teams do not go physically flat; they go mentally stale” (Vince Lombardi).

The Scriptures are a valuable tool for persuading individuals to acknowledge their mistakes and guide them toward the correct course of action (Barclay).

It’s just not natural to welcome criticism. It is typically unwelcome and unpleasant because it goes against human nature. Responding appropriately to criticism is crucial. Reproof and correction are critical elements in this process. The Father uses reproof and correction to equip and prepare the children of the King’ for success.

Wherever there are people, there are sparks. What you do with the sparks makes all the difference in the world.

Job 5:7 People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.

Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, troubles in life have been sure to come one way or another. Such hardship is the collateral damage of the Fall.

Genesis 3:17-19

 17 The ground is cursed because of you [Adam]. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.

 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust, you will return.

Sparks and challenges are inherent to the human condition. There are some instances where we reap what we sow. However, it’s incorrect to assume that we are always responsible for what occurs in our lives. Challenging times are not solely a result of cause and effect. The reality is that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. The world is not our enemy; it is not sentient. The world does not know we exist. There are no random, senseless, cosmic forces at work to somehow punish us personally for what our first parents did. 

Why is there personal suffering?

Consider Joseph. Have you ever wondered why the entire account of creation takes up only two chapters in Genesis, but the life of Joseph requires 15 chapters to tell? Joseph’s difficult times and his response to them provide life lessons for us all.

There was a great deal of suffering in Joseph’s life. It began with the jealousy of his brothers. They wanted to kill him. But instead, they plotted against him and betrayed him. He was sold into slavery in Egypt. Yet, Joseph was admired and promoted because of his intelligence and excellent moral character.

But for the same reasons, he was wrongly imprisoned and left to rot. But prison was a time of preparation! During Joseph’s time in prison, the Father equipped him for what was coming next. Upon his release, Joseph became Egypt’s second most powerful figure, next only to the Pharaoh. He devised a strategy to endure an impending famine that saved countless lives.

But his most outstanding achievement was inward. He went from the potential throes of anger, resentment, and bitterness to quiet wisdom and gracious forgiveness for his brothers who had wronged him.

Joseph explained the reality and theological foundation for all that happened.

Genesis 45:7-8

 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.

 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh – the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.

REFLECT & PRAY

Joseph learned and placed confidence in the Father, Who was in control of the storyline of his life.

Father I know and believe that You are always at work, preparing me to face and excel at whatever You have for me to do.

INSIGHT

The Father employs discipline to direct us away from ungodliness and to enhance our productivity. He may leverage challenging individuals or situations to trim away any deadwood in our lives – such as inappropriate attitudes, actions, and relationships inconsistent with our identity as children of the King (Stanley).

Reproof, criticism, correction, and discipline are not intended to be pleasant. Dark valleys are typical for every child of the King. When we are in the midst of the dark nights of our souls, we do not always respond well. We often fail.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

“Life is full of trouble. But in the hands of a loving God, our suffering is being used for eternal purposes” (Stanley).

Charles Stanley provides some helpful steps.

  • It’s important to respond well and evaluate criticism correctly.
  • Do not immediately reject the comment, blame the person, or defend yourself. Instead, consider what was said, and ask God to help you discern if it’s true.
  • Thank them for their interest in you. Tell them you will reflect on their observation.
  • Evaluate the criticism and determine what is under scrutiny – your beliefs and character.
  • View this as an opportunity for growth, and if necessary, apologize.
  • Rather than letting criticism trigger feelings of anger and self-pity, let it do good work in your life.

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© Dr. H 2023

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