I said this brilliant statement the other day here:
“The more miserable people get, the more they deny the very teaching that can answer their problems.”
This is a thought that has run through my mind for several years. I can give you a couple examples of people who make me think about this:
1) A person came to me wondering why they had no fruit in their life. They were sincerely bummed by this, and they were also sincerely bummed by the amount of sin raging in their life. This was also a person who didn’t think they had to do good works, they were saved by grace, “I don’t have to do anything.” I pointed them to Titus 3:14, “let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” You have to do good works if you want fruit. “I don’t have to do good works!” they insisted. OK, but you won’t have any fruit. “I don’t think so. I don’t have to do good works.” OK! But see, you’re the one coming to me because you have no fruit and I just showed you a Bible verse saying how you can get fruit, but you refuse to do it. If you don’t have to do good works, then don’t expect any fruit! “Well, I don’t think so, but I do wish I had fruit.”
2) A person came to me completely worried about everything, to the point of stress and anxiety leading to health problems, over-eating and all sorts of stuff. This was a person wrapped up in houses, jobs, money, possessions, expensive eating habits, and all manner of materialism. I showed them many verses in the Bible about material things, and how worry is eliminated once we put physical things in their right place. “Whatever, that’s not reasonable. I can’t just turn on all those things, I need that to live!” OK, but don’t expect your worry to go away. “I’m not giving up my stuff, and what about my kids?” The Bible says our relationship with Christ is most important, until that’s the case you will have worry. “I can’t do that. I do wish I could overcome my worry though.”
3) A person came to me with verses about rejoicing. “I need to have more rejoicing, Paul is always telling us to rejoice, yet I don’t feel joy ever.” I used the same context of the passage they brought up to show them that rejoicing doesn’t come from a determination to be happy, but comes from a humble, servant mindset like Christ had. “What? I live for other people and that makes me rejoice?” That’s what Christ did, and even though He suffered on the cross for others, He did it for the joy set before Him. “I don’t have to suffer for other people. I don’t have to sacrifice to show love to others.” OK, but don’t expect any rejoicing then. “That’s nuts. I’d be a mess if I had to worry about doing things for others all the time. I sure wish I had more rejoicing in my life, though.”
One thing I’ve noticed about each of these people is that, without going into detail about them, they each theologically work themselves out of any verse that tells them to do stuff. None of them thinks the Sermon on the Mount is for them. None of them thinks good works is part of who they need to be as believers. They all have the notion that since they are saved by grace they can do whatever they want. “The Bible suggests things, but I don’t have to obey, they aren’t commandments.”
This is so asinine to me from a theological standpoint, and the results of that view of Scripture wreak havoc practically. These are not happy people. These are not people I would ever model my faith after. These are people who are guilt-ridden, unhappy, worriers and yet all try to buck themselves up with false platitudes about grace and love.
Rather than listen to Scripture, they prefer to use human platitudes. If they won’t let me use Scripture, I have nothing else.
It’s amazing how simple-obedience to Jesus Christ leads to so much of what we truly desire. It is just as amazing that those who deny their obligation to be obedient have such horrible lives, sometimes even admitted to by they themselves.
Oh people, learn humility, obedience, service, love, and grace. Live that and so much of life will make more sense and what you desire will truly be fulfilled.