If people overly focus on others, they can actually find themselves in unhealthy places. In some instances, they can move into the realm of doubt and unbelief. In others, they may find themselves struggling with jealousy and envy. They may even find themselves holding onto a religious attitude coupled with a condemning spirit. Each realm has its own dynamics, but all lead to crippled relationships, and that includes with the Lord.
As it stands, access is easy to doubt and unbelief. Sometimes, circumstances can nudge someone in that direction. If you require affirmation from others and that spills into your spiritual life, and if you need someone else’s permission to believe, you can be shoved through the doorway of unbelief. Do you suppose Jesus asked his brothers if they thought He was the Son of God? Do you think He would have performed the many miracles if He needed permission from His friends and family to listen to the Father? Nowhere do we find Jesus encouraging Himself in man. It is one thing to get wise counsel from others; it is quite another to rely on them for personal validation. The moment we need approval from others before we believe, we will doubt everything pertaining to the Faith. If a person has a difficult time admitting he is a follower of Jesus Christ because of the fear of rejection from others, then he is weak in the faith. Your identity has to be in Christ Jesus, you cannot find it in man. Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe (KJV).
It is good to have those who can mentor us, as it is good to fellowship with other believers to help exhort one another (see Hebrews 10:24-25). However, we must strike a balance in standing in our individual identity and following others. It is easy to mimic those for whom we have great respect, even to the point where a person takes on the mannerisms of another. All believers have their own relationship with the Father, as well as their own callings. Someone may instruct in you in the ways of the Lord, but his or her calling differs from yours. That means you cannot copy his or her life and make it your own. You need to be who God called you to be and do what He called you do; no matter what your mentor does. If he or she stops serving the Lord, will you stop as well? 1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (KJV).
There must be great care in not placing someone on the proverbial pedestal where he or she can “do no wrong” and follow wherever he or she may lead. The goal of anyone who disciples others is to get them to follow Jesus, regardless of what another may or may not do. Everyone must come to a place where the Holy Spirit is able to teach him or her the Word of God. The idea is everyone is dependent on God and not man. That is not to say you have no further need for teachers. That is dangerous doctrine. The point is that there is only One Holy Spirit, which means you do not ask, “What do we believe now?” It means you have to study Scripture for yourself, so that you have something to contribute, as the Lord reveals things to you. Teachers can be great clarifiers for what we learn along the way. When people put their trust in those they respect or even someone famous, and that person falls, it can be very devastating. In some instances, where someone of great renown failed in his personal life, there had been individuals so rocked by the incident that they left the church, and even departed from the faith. Those considered as mature in the faith are still human. They face struggles just as anyone else does. That is why it is vital to keep our foundation Christ, and not someone we respect as a spiritual leader. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (KJV).
In the days of His earthly ministry, the religious leaders found fault with Jesus; even though, the fault was with them. What was their fault? Mark 15:9-10 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for envy (KJV, see also Matthew 27:11-18). They were envious of Jesus, and therefore looked for ways to accuse and destroy Him. It is important to guard our hearts and our identity in Christ Jesus, so that envy does not gain a foothold in our lives. When we understand that we are well loved of the Father, and that everyone’s relationship is unique with Him, we will have plenty of room in our hearts to cheer our brothers and sisters on when our Father uses and blesses them. If we allow envy and jealousy to have their way, we can take on a religious spirit that seeks to condemn others. We can take on a false piety that rails against anyone who does not believe the way we believe.
At the same time, we must be aware that it would be easy to rail against someone who has a religious attitude. We have to come to that place where we will follow Jesus no matter what others may or may not do. Our relationship with God should never be predicated on another person’s walk with the Lord. John 21:20-22 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me (KJV). Regardless of what Jesus may do with another person, we are to follow Him. Should you begin to be concerned about another in an unhealthy way, remember the words of Jesus, “What is that to you? You follow me!”
The motivation of love is the benefit of others. It has no hidden agendas, as it is not self-centered. God Himself models love and its operations. He is Most Holy and the Most Holy is Love, therefore, love must be central in all that we think and do. Love takes joy in the recipient for the recipient’s sake alone, which underscores that it has no ulterior motives.
One of the ways that the Father expresses His love is by the invitation to join His family. That invitation was signed in the Blood of Jesus, with the purpose of reconciling us onto Himself. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and that means it cost Him dearly (see John 3:16). Has it occurred to you that this reconciliation was also a great act of humility?
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (KJV). Jesus humbled Himself, left His rightful place and served humanity. He died knowing that not everyone would accept the invitation. He freely gave, and forces no one to receive His Precious Gift. We are to be conformed to His image. That means because of love, we should humble ourselves as well.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (KJV). God loves reconciliation. He loves family and loves His children to love one another. If we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments, and He commands us to love one another. In our love, we will serve each other as unto Him. Likewise, we will seek to reconcile others unto God. One of the ways to express the love of God to others is by expressing our love one to another. When we, as the Church, walk in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, we express a love for which people are starving. They are ready to receive this same love when they see it in action. Unfortunately, when they see us fussing and fighting with each other they run in the opposite direction.
James 3:14-18 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (KJV).
If we truly want people to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we are going to have to get our act together with each other. This calls for great humility that is driven by love. That love begins with God as our First Priority. If we are God-centered; we will not be self-centered. God is the only One right; nevertheless, He does not insist on being right. In His humility, He sought to make us right through Jesus. As long as we “have to be right,” we will be wrong because we are not walking in love. Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (KJV). Denying ourselves insists on God being right, and ourselves subservient to His desires. Reconciliation with each other is dependent on love, because with love we become outward focused. What would happen if churches that had internal issues allowed the Lord to be the Arbitrator? Meaning, dump the “I thinks,” and seek what He really has to say concerning those issues. Since the only One right is God, it would behoove everyone to get on board with what He has to say. What would happen if we quit trying to be right about our “doctrinal truths,” and find out what the Father really intended by what He said in His Word. It is interesting to note that there is only One Doctrine of Christ, yet there are doctrines of men and devils. Love says Truth prevails in the purest form. Instead of trying to agree with each other, let us agree with Him. When we agree with the Lord, we will be in agreement with each other. That, by the way, ends compromise! Think about this, if we air our differences in public in the name of no compromise, we are compromising the Gospel.
Influencing communities in which we live for the Kingdom of God means that we need strong families. There are some nuclear and extended families, as well as some church families out there who are really struggling to stay together. In some cases, family members have been deeply wounded and some outright rejected. There are many dynamics involved in each case. Nonetheless, pride and selfishness has been a big contributor. We can use hurts as an excuse to despise others and not forgive them. It is a good thing that Jesus did not take that position, because if anyone had the right to hold unforgiveness, it was Him. Because He loved us so much, He laid His life down for us. If you want revenge, forgive one another. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more to than to take as many with him into the lake of fire as he can. If he can con us into unforgiveness, he may also trick us into bitterness. With that, comes an evil heart of unbelief. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (KJV). Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends (KJV). Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV). While there are boundaries that we may need to set with those who are abusive, we should also keep in mind that kindness does lead to repentance.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (KJV). Should a brother or sister fall or even sin against us, we have a decision to make. We can either condemn and reject them for their crimes, or forgive them and seek their restoration. We can judge them or help them. If we condemn them and reject them, we are carnal, and not spiritual. While we cannot reward bad behavior, we do need to see beyond it and not hold it against those who behave badly. Behavior is a symptom of something underneath the surface. For example, a sinner sins because that is his nature. He cannot help it. A wounded believer has need of healing; their anger is a result of the pain and fear attached to the hurt. Kill the root and the behavior changes. Love is the key to saving the sinner and healing the wounded. Reconciliation requires love.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (KJV).
As the saying goes, you have time for your priorities. The question is what are your priorities. When people say they do not have time to pray or read their Bible, when they do not have time to spend with God, it means that they are giving Him their leftovers at best. It is not an honest statement to say, “I will do anything for God, even if it means sacrifice” when one will not even spend more than five minute with Him.
Jesus stepped out of eternity to spend time with His people. He sacrificed Himself so they may spend eternity with Him. He gave the Best of the Firstfruits unto the Father so we too might produce fruit unto God. Jesus not only gave of Himself; He gave Himself freely. Jesus did not go to the Father because He was in trouble; He went to Him to save us from trouble.
Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed (KJV). Our Lord rose early in the morning, even before daybreak, to meet with our Father. He did not wait until the end of the day. He gave Him the firstfruits of the day. He lived the illustrated sermon that God strengthens those who wait upon the Lord (see Isaiah 40:31). As a result, He was able to give His Best for the people. If you want to be the best person for those in your life, you need to be the best person for Him Who is your Life.
With the giving of our firstfruits unto Him comes much more fruit to offer. One reason some people have not realized victories in their life or have been slow to realize them, is because they give Him their leftovers. In His presence is fullness of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. It is in the Secret Place that secrets are revealed. How can God impart these things if a person does not give Him the time of day? You cannot know someone’s heart without spending time with him or her. Likewise, if we do not begin with the Father, how will we expect to know His will?
Your talents do not make you special; they make you responsible. They make you accountable to God. Talents are intended to glorify God and further His Kingdom. They are gifts and abilities that you did not, nor could ever create. Your talents are not who you are, but they do point to Whom you belong.
Unfortunately, much of society celebrates the gifts instead of the person. They tend to glorify talents while discarding people. What would happen to those worshipped by the public, if suddenly, all their talents were gone? Would they be where they are today without them? Why do a number of people hang on every word of those who exhibit great talent in any given area, but have no character? Why do they not listen to the “common everyday person?” People are created to worship and if they do not worship God, they will worship people or things. That means people whom they worship must be special. In a sense, talents are miraculous. People look at them as miracles when their “gods” display them.
As a whole, society does not recognize how precious the individual is, because it does not recognize God. When people recognize and acknowledge God, they will place value on individuals. In many cases, those who do not acknowledge God, tend to devalue people. Psalm 139:14-18 says, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with Thee” (KJV). Every thought that the Father has toward people is precious. People are gifts who display talents. We need to celebrate them for who they are, and not what they possess or do.
Before going further, let it be clear that the Lord also designed us to follow others He placed in authority. This is another topic in of itself; however, in order to be in authority, one must be under authority. Those who are in authority are also held accountable for their use of that authority.
Frequently, when people are not loved and affirmed as they should be, they turn to their talents. They develop them in order to be noticed. They seek to excel in them so they will be loved, adored and admired. They are compensating for what they did not receive. Unfortunately, it never remedies what the need is, nor does it heal their wounds. That is why they are never satisfied with their current success, which is a counterfeit to our design. Meaning, while we as believers rest in the Lord, we will desire to labor for Him until our time on earth passes. As it written, “For we are His workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, KJV). We are not driven to fulfill a personal need or shortcoming. When a person truly receives the love of God, he or she will not have to seek affirmation. Those who turn to their talents will never be satisfied because they are not receiving the love they desire; their accolades are the center of attention. They find that they are not being loved for themselves, but they are “loved” for what they have to offer, and not for who they are.
When people excel in their talents, it appears to be good stewardship. However, if that excellence is for the expressed purpose of self-glorification, it is poor stewardship. One of the byproducts of compensating for lack is the individual who takes it to another level and seeks worship from others. For example, when a rock star raises his arms as he steps onto the stage, what is he looking for? He is looking for adoration from his fans, and the exhilaration that comes with the sense of power when they respond according to his desire. Granted, some raise their hands in appreciation to those who put them there. Unfortunately, some are trying to steal the glory that belongs to God. Again, we should be using our talents to glorify Him.
While a number of talented people appear to “have it all,” they are hurting desperate souls. Why else would we read about celebrities needing rehab or committing suicide? Their stardom, riches and accolades are never enough. Do not be too fast to envy their lifestyle. Sometimes those who are the most outlandish are in dire need of love.
Question: are you one who hides behind your talent? If so, why?
Sometimes believers ask if they should go to the doctor. This obviously has to do with faith and healing. Some have a misconception that going to doctors is a sign of unbelief. Where is that in the Bible? All healing begins and ends with God. It is ultimately His decision as to how people are healed. He does use a variety of ways, which are too many to make mention. Nonetheless, one example is the human body itself. God designed it in such a way that it can actually heal and regenerate itself in many instances, without any outside aid, including prayer. Lets get back to doctors.
Who gave doctors the creativity to do the things they do? Who enabled them to discover technological innovations, surgical methods and medicines to help humanity? Who gave them the insight as to how the human body functions? One could say that through years of study, humanity discovered these things. All right, who gave humanity the idea to even make such studies? God provided various plants, which includes herbs that are used for our wellbeing. The desire to heal comes from God our Healer. As it is written, “So God created man in His own Image, in the Image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27, KJV).
Where is a person to go who has never heard the Gospel, which includes healing as part of its message? Remember our Father is kind and merciful to unbelievers as well as believers, (see Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). One of the ways He extends mercy is through doctors. In His kindness, He provided a means by which people can find healing and relief, even in their ignorance. His kindness does lead to repentance (see Romans 2:4). There are Christians who do not walk in the fullness of the power of God available to them. In fact, a segment does not fully believe that healing is available for us today. Even in those cases, God extended mercy through doctors. Lets get honest. There are a great many Christians who are not walking according to the will of God. Therefore, signs and wonders are not following them. Part of the reason is that they do not believe the Word. Remember, signs and wonders confirm His Word.
Does that mean we should go to doctors in lieu of God? No, it means believers should go to God first. Let Him decide the course of action. Jesus healed the sick because He obeyed the Father. He did not simply start praying on people and casting out demons. He did what He saw the Father do and said what He heard the Father say. The Holy Spirit led him and so should we allow Him to lead us. We cannot be formulaic in our approach. We see in Scripture that Jesus said and did a variety of things in relation to healing. Sometimes, He merely spoke a word, sometimes He touched people and sometimes people touched Him. Jesus even used spit and mud to give sight to a blind man. Whatever the Father said, He obeyed. We should do likewise.
Sometimes going to the doctor is an act of faith. For example, a woman once said that she felt like the Lord told her to go see a doctor. She went on to say that she was going to walk by faith and not go. Someone told the woman that if she did not go, it would be rebellion, and not faith. She had a misunderstanding about faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (KJV). In order for something to be of faith, hearing must come first. Praying for the sick operates the same way.
Keep in mind that Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” That means our prayers should be in agreement with the Father. Sometimes people take it upon themselves to pray for someone without the leading of the Holy Spirit. Often, the results are not pretty. One of the quickest ways to doubt the Bible is trying to do things on your own. Obedience brings results; presumption never does. The Bible confirms praying on the sick is correct, but we still need to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The bottom line is that we have to trust God in all circumstances. Ironically, some avoid doctors because they are afraid they might be walking in unbelief. Is that faith? There are a myriad of reasons God may have a person go to a doctor. If nothing else, it may be to document a physical ailment before He heals it supernaturally; thus, attesting to its legitimacy for a higher purpose. However the Lord decides to do things, we have to leave the process to Him. 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (KJV). He does want your soul to prosper and be in health as well, it is not just about your physical wellbeing. That also means He has a purpose behind everything (see Romans 8:28). We cannot afford to put Him in a box. He will not reside there anyway. We must be careful about our absolutes.