Monday, October 14, 2013

Thoughts on Oughts

Dear Friends and Fellow Beautiful Messes,

The real question:

We thought about the 'Comparison Trap' yesterday and the question of, "Is the grass greener?".  A wise comment was made during a discussion time about the positives a comparison can bring as it inspires us to do better.  True, comparisons can give us a goal and be that impetus to get us moving toward change.  If we look deeper at that, the motivation is in response to the question we decided was the better-"Am I reflecting Christ?".  A comparison of that sort is really a legitimate assessment and, though it is about 'me' in the sense of what I need to do better, it is ultimately a focus on God, who he is, and whether or not am I showing that in my life.  That is the good sort of comparison.

I Ought to?:

We need to be careful, as we try to stay out of the negative 'Comparison Trap', that we don't go back to that 'me' focus by confusing our 'Oughts' with preferences or just the reality of who we are.  Here's what I mean...  Ought I to like the color purple?,  Ought I to want pink marshmallow fluff? Ought I to be as organized as my friend? Not necessarily.

We can make sure our oughts are really oughts by lining them up with Scripture... does it have to do with the conformity to the character of God (holiness)?   If not, if it is just about personality, then change it if you like, but that's just a preference. If it is, then get about pursuing holiness and developing that quality in your life.  Remember it takes work and it is Truth of God's Word that TEACHES us to live godly lives under GRACE.

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age...
Colossians 3:12-14
Put  on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
J.C. Ryle tells of his wonder of God's loving and wise guidance, which he calls "inducements", for the practical daily living of the Christian life.
God is continually holding out inducements to man to listen to Him, obey Him, and serve Him... He has... shown His perfect knowledge of human nature, by spreading over the the Book a perfect wealth of promises, suitable to every kind of experience and every condition of life... "shalls" and "wills" (oughts), mercy, compassion, grace, strength for duty, comfort in trouble, guidance in perplexity, help in sickness, consolation in death, support under bereavement, happiness beyond the grave, reward in glory,-about all these things there is an abundant supply of promises in the Word.  No one can form an idea of its abundance unless he carefully searches the Scriptures, keeping the subject steady in view."
Through careful consistent study of the Bible, we must keep our pursuit of holiness "steady in view".  We can extend grace-the grace of learning daily to live out the 'oughts' as we reflect the glory of God.  If we place our focus and affections on that goal: "We can [do all things], and by his GRACE, we will".

As always, I pray for you Grace for the day...

P.S.  I'll post those follow up questions and resources in a day or so!