I have a weird way of recalling memory. At least I think I do. I was watching Sherlock Season 4 when a memory came to mind, completely unrelated.
Does it happen to you?
Either way, it was something that came up in class a couple of times last year. That your strengths also end up being your weaknesses as well. My wife’s greatest strength is her heart. It was a weakness until she learned the value of boundaries to keep her from getting walked all over on.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This means we’re going to evaluate ourselves. I’ll go first.
I’m loyal. How is that a weakness? If it turns into a blind loyalty.
Independent. What’s the weakness? When you let it cut you off from others.
Work ethic. That’s good, right? Until it’s focused on pointless things that don’t move the ball forward. Or misplaced priorities due to being workaholics, ignoring family, friends, God.
Learning and applying. One of my greatest strengths. From experience, the downside is staying stuck in your head and disconnected from your heart.
What are your strengths? How can they also be your weakness?
My one big thing of 2017 was cultivating compassion. I had to learn what it was, and how to do it, and it involved a lot of studying. On top of God tenderizing my hard heart, this is what penetrated my thick skull and left an imprint.
Jesus, Compassion, and Me
To feel compassion, I have to think of others more and me less. To actually feel for others I have to get out of my head and actually see them. Jesus saw people and had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
That touched people. He was full of pity, sensitive with sympathy for the vague soul hunger and physical suffering around him. He loves and sees the actual potential worth of others and loves them.
Everyone suffers in this fallen world. Sometimes it is their fault, and at other times it’s not. The Garden of Eden shows us what God intended, and the promise of the new Earth lets us know that it won’t stay this way.
If I want to model Jesus, I have to notice people. Immanuel means “God with us”. Because Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, when we sit and empathize with someone God is there sitting with them also.
I learned to act wisely towards others (still a work in progress), making the most of every opportunity. My words should be full of unmerited favor and truth so that I know how to answer everyone.
An important thing I learned was how to compassionately confront. It’s humbly telling someone no while recognizing the evil in my own heart when I confront evil.
Jesus was best known for his eyes of compassion. When he saw broken people he knew this was not how it’s supposed to be. A by-product of Satan’s machinations in the Garden of Eden. Now he’s trying to call humanity back to him because grace isn’t fair, it’s generous.
2017 taught me who’s in charge, and I’m okay with that. Knowing that God’s running the show, I can see things from a different perspective. A transcendental perspective.
Get into the habit of saying “speak Lord”, and being quiet. Anticipate his voice in every encounter. Recognize the divine appointments He sets up, and leave the rest up to Him. Because God’s working all things together for the good of those that love Him according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), He’ll make sure that the good I do will be received by those that need it.
We cannot stop God’s plan. If I’m unwilling, He will use another. We are strategically placed in every moment according to His plan with this mission: to do good and right. All work together for good, He gives us all we need and withholds nothing we need.
He won’t remove anyone that’s needed. If one is called out of a ministry, He’ll put another in their place. A painful truth at the end of last year.
Wrath and Justice
Every year I come back to the issue of suffering and evil. I studied Job, I read Tim Keller’s book, even writing a post on it. God loves His creation and is angry at anyone and anything that is destroying the people and world He loves. If God is loving and good, He must be angry at evil. Angry enough to do something about it.
A God without wrath has no need to go to the cross and suffer incredible agony and die in order to save us. He took our punishment on Himself. He doesn’t need us but wants us to willingly want Him.
God doesn’t play favorites between me and you, or you and another. That shook me when I realized it.
Still one of His loved enough to die for, but He is just. He also isn’t surprised by anything that happens, and work it for an eternal purpose. Wherever there is a Christian, there is the presence of God, and that should make an impact.