The last post contained three VERY key messages from our Father, straight to our hearts. They are so important (and I am so slow and forgetful) that I just want to recap: 1) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; 2) your flesh patterns (another word for coping mechanisms) are not who you are; and 3) your flesh (and mine) was never designed to work in the first place.
Now that I’ve covered lots of things that definitely aren’t found in abundant living (TRYING HARDER, fear, and self-sufficiency), it’s time to look at some things that are (I heard the collective sigh of relief from your side of the screen :)). The first one I want to talk about is honesty. I know it seems obvious, but is it really?
This week in our Bible study group we got to an interesting place in Jeremiah chapter 26. In that chapter God tells Jeremiah to stand in the court of the Lord’s house, the temple in Jerusalem, and speak to ALL those who come to worship ALL the words He commands. And then just for emphasis God says, “Do not omit a word!” And yes, the NASB includes the exclamation point (verse 2).
Here is what God has Jeremiah say:
Jeremiah 26:4-6 (NASB) “And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.”’”
And here is the response of all who heard the words from God:
Jeremiah 26:8 (NASB) “When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You must die!”
Let’s just camp here for a minute. Jeremiah faithfully gave the word of the Lord and the immediate response of the people was a call to kill him. Can you imagine the look on Jeremiah’s face as they turned to grab him? I am sure he was confident of what the Lord called him to say, but don’t you think that at that moment he must have quaked in his sandals just a little bit?
If this were a game of chess then in a natural sense we’d have to question Jeremiah’s next move. He restated God’s first message to them (vv. 12-13) and then added:
Jeremiah 26:14-15 (NASB) “But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
In a very difficult, stressful, life and death situation, Jeremiah fully placed his trust in the Lord (he said he was in their hands, but we know who he really trusted in, right?) and he spoke the truth. He didn’t back down. He didn’t soften the message. He didn’t run. He didn’t even burst into tears. Even when his life was on the line he spoke the truth.
I can’t say that I’ve ever found myself in a life and death situation that depended on what I did or did not say, but I have been in plenty of VERY UNCOMFORTABLE situations where I was so worried about what was going to happen next (e.g. someone yell at me, someone get angry with me, someone not like me, etc.), that I either didn’t say what I was thinking at all or I didn’t say exactly what I was thinking in order to soften the message.
Let me bottom line it for you, I was not being truthful. I was trying to protect myself and trying to control outcomes so that everything and everyone remained civil and polite. But there was a war raging inside of me.
Not being honest about how you feel or what you really think (even if it is super ugly), is not abundant living. It’s painful living. When we do things to protect ourselves and control outcomes instead of trusting God, we are erecting walls around our hearts that keep Father God and those we love out. Eventually there’s a price to be paid for it too – a cold heart.
Since I said we were going to start discussing what abundant living and reigning in life DO look like, let me turn my example around to say, honesty and transparency are hallmarks of abundant living and reigning in life. But there’s risk involved, it can be dangerous to wear a tiara (or a crown in Jeremiah’s case). It gives people the opportunity to do you harm, just like the people who wanted to kill Jeremiah. But my trust isn’t in them, it’s in the Lord. Every time I choose to be honest and transparent it demonstrates that trust and draws me closer to Him. It opens my heart for intimacy with Him and others.