Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm afraid people will think badly of me.

Reputation: overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general

It's hard sometimes. How do we release what people think of us? How do we not worry about their misgivings or misunderstandings? How do we do what we know to be right and then let it go?

One of the hardest things for me to fully grasp is that the only opinion that matters is God's opinion of me. There have been times when I wanted to defend myself vehemently. There have been times I have done it. This is what I have learned: those who want to think badly of you, will; those who want to think good of you, will.

And there's nothing we can do about it.

I have been in a situation or two where I tried desperately to explain myself. I have wanted to clear the air, and bring understanding to issues which had been left unattended for too long. I have wanted explanations to strike the heart, and love to overflow. But it didn't work. Not one of my words made the least bit of sense to the people I was talking to. In fact, the words I said and the things I did only made matters worse because they perceived my motives to be dark and angry.

So, what do you do? That is an excellent question. Here in Matthew Jesus tells the disciples not to worry about what others say. He tells them everything that is hidden will be seen. He doesn't want words said by others to cause the disciples to stop doing what they were called to do. He tells them to talk to those who listen, and move on from those who don't. And this... this that he calls us to do, it is not as easy as it seems it should be.

Because sometimes reconciliation is truly desired. And it seems right, and good to want such a thing. But the recognition that reconciliation takes two is huge. Because if they don't want it, it wont happen. And this is what Jesus is saying, I think.

If they wont hear you, your words, your heart, your cries, then move on. Staying there can get you stuck. Move on and trust that God will reveal all in His time.

It's not easy, and I'm still learning to do this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The fear the truth will be hidden

Matthew 10:26
So do not be afraid of them.
There is nothing concealed
that will not be disclosed,
or hidden that will not be made known.

The disciples were being sent out, and being warned that people would say and do things to belittle their character. The “so” in verse 26 follows Jesus saying, “If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household?” This is reference to himself, for people did question who Jesus was and where he got his powers. Jesus is letting the disciples know, it will also happen to them.

While we may not be using our authority to drive out evil spirits or heal people, there are still times we come face to face with someone demeaning our character and who we are. It’s hard some days when we work to phrase things correctly, take the appropriate steps, and do what we think is right, and yet people twist it all. Whether they do it intentionally to cause harm to fall on us, or whether they do it because of a mistaken belief, it happens. It is not their motive we have to worry about, but rather our own.

There are times we should speak up when questioned, for we are told to be ready to defend our beliefs, but there are also times we should remain silent. It’s so very hard when you know people are talking bad about you to remain quiet and leave it all to God. However, too many times when we speak up on our own accord things don’t get any clearer or cleaner. Too many times we mess things up ourselves. But God is telling us here not to be afraid of those who will claim we work for the devil. We are not to be afraid of the words they say or the accusations they make.

Maybe Psalm 139 was reverberating through the disciples mind as Jesus was talking. “God knows our thoughts from afar.” But Jesus lets them, and us, know that what is not seen will be seen, whether motive, action, or thought God will reveal our character as well as those who He is warning us about.

Question 1: Have you ever been in a position where you believed people were talking negatively about you, but you couldn’t defend yourself? How easy was it for you to release the worry and anxiety about what others thought?

Question 2: Where do you need to alter your own thoughts, actions, and motives so that if the unseen within yourself were seen you would still be lined up with God?

Dear Father,
Help us to follow you and trust you
Help us to not fear our reputation being harmed
Help us to let go of the worry and anxiety
others bring with their words and actions.
You alone, Oh God, know our hearts.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The disciples' fear

Matthew 10 shares information with Luke 12:1-11. Considering the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are different takes on Christ’s life it makes sense that they would cover similar but different information. Here in Matthew the chapter starts out by Jesus giving the 12 disciples authority and sending them out on their own. He gives them instructions on what to take, and how to behave. He warns them about dangers they will face, and from whom they will face these dangers. And He comforts and encourages them with words of “do not be afraid” despite all that he has already said. Many think these words were not meant only for this time of sending out, but also for the time to come after Christ would be resurrected. Either way there is much here for us to learn. In a matter of six verses “do not be afraid” is said three times. Even though they apparently were said all at the same time I think each one represents separate fears we can take into our heart, and thus I want to take a look at each one individually.

Matthew 10 26

Matthew 10:26

So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. (NIV)  
So have no fear of them; for nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, or kept secret that will not become known. (Amplified)  
Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. (The Message)

Reformation Bible:
This injunction to fear God and not people is perhaps a development of Is. 8:12,13. It is supported by three arguments: first, the acts of the wicked will be shown for what they are; second, although people can kill the body, God can punish the soul and body; and third, God orders everything, down to the fall of a sparrow and the number of hairs on the head.

Matthew Henry:
With these predictions of trouble, we have here prescriptions of counsels and comforts for a time of trial. He sends them out exposed to danger indeed, and expecting it, but well armed with instructions and encouragements, sufficient to bear them up, and bear them out, in all these trials.

IVP NT Commentary Series:
In view of impending end-time vindication, Jesus' followers should preach boldly, fearing no shame from their peers in this world.

Clarke's Commentary:
A general direction to all the persecuted followers of Christ. Fear them not, for they can make you suffer nothing worse than they have made Christ suffer; and under all trials he has promised the most ample support. God sees everything.

Barnes:
They were to be willing to be unknown, despised, persecuted for a time, with the assurance their true characters would yet be understood and their sufferings appreciated.