,Have you ever opened up your Bible and as you are reading a familiar verse, suddenly you are stopped dead in your tracks by ONE word? You try to keep reading but all you can think about is that one word shouting in your brain. It reminds me of the movie, Thor: The Dark World. Jane (played by Natalie Portman) is sitting at a restaurant trying to read a menu but she’s repeating “Seabass, seabass, seabass” over and over, obviously unable to focus on what was in front of her because she’s really thinking about seeing Thor again. (Yes, thanks to my teenage son, we are all Marvel movie fans.) For me, today that word was aware.
Following The Rabbit Trail
My entire life is chasing one rabbit trail after another. And I mean that in a good way. If you are trying to stay focused on business goals, etc, rabbit trails are not good. However, when we are focused on discovery, learning, and understanding….well, then we want to chase the rabbit trails as they lead to gold!
Today’s rabbit trail led to a wonderful gold nugget of understanding.
I was actually looking for the verse that mentioned how scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching and instructing (it’s in 2 Timothy 3). My purpose was to spend some time there, meditate on it, look up word origins and just let the Father give me understanding and wisdom through Holy Spirit. But I didn’t even make it that far! I was stopped straightaway at the beginning of the chapter.
You had me at “aware”…
In fact, I was stopped in the first sentence: “But you need to be aware...”. I tried moving on but it was no use. Aware, aware, aware kept repeating in my mind.
Ironically, just before opening my Bible to this passage I signed up to participate in a meeting about Insight in ourselves. Basically, asking ourselves if we have an honest and accurate perception of us and how others perceive us.
I’ve learned by now to slow WAY down when a word is brought to my attention like this and it seems to fit with something else going on in my life. I stopped and prayed for a bit, asking Father that I would understand what He is trying to communicate. Then I continued on with 2 Timothy 3:
…that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families…
The Holy Spirit stopped me right there.
Ok. Let’s be real….when you read that passage above, what were you thinking? Maybe something like, “Yup. That sure is right. We’re living that right now” or “Well, I certainly know some people like that”.
I know you were. I was too. That’s how we have been taught to think! When passages like this are preached from the pulpit it is always about “them” who are living this way and we nod and shake our heads and wave our hands, “Oh, Jesus, save them and protect us from them!“.
Suddenly it hit me. Be aware.
Suddenlies Take A Long Time
A revelation can hit us all of a sudden, but really, it has been a long time coming. An event or word will trigger everything that has been accumulating over the years to line up and create an “Aha!” moment. That’s what happened to me today. Loads of individual little thoughts, experiences, and lessons came smashing together into one thought, like a giant magnet that quickly pulls bits and pieces of metal to itself.
I don’t need to be aware that other people are acting horribly. Yes, it is a signal of the signs of times, so that we can be ready for the coming of Jesus (fill your lamps folks!), but honestly we also use these passages to judge others. The words of scripture are not so we can point fingers at other folks…they are written so we can judge ourselves!
“But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” 1 Cor. 11:31
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you…you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye…” (Matthew 7)
How often do we read warnings in scripture and believe it is referring to someone else? I used to do it all the time. I never considered that certain teachings in scripture related to me – unless it was something I wanted to hear. But a few years ago that started to change as I did two things:
- Prayed, “Father, open my eyes so I can see, open my ears so I can hear, and give me a heart that understands.”
- I began to ask, “does this apply to me” or “is this in me”.
You ARE the righteousness of Christ
Those two actions changed everything for me. One, I was able to believe things in my soul that I only allowed an obligated head-knowledge of previously. For example, that I AM the righteousness of Christ. Meaning, “stop trying to earn God’s favor, impress Him, and work so hard to be perfect!” That thinking dominated my life. I had to work at acting righteously every day and when I messed up I beat myself up emotionally (needless to say, I was my greatest abuser). Rather, my eyes were opened and my heart finally understood that I’m already righteous.
When you get a deep revelation of that…oh, man what a great day that is!!
Second, I wasn’t afraid to hold up scripture to my life. Even today, as I read 2 Timothy 3, my old habit of thinking about how that passage represents other people crept up until I heard the Spirit say, “Be aware!!”.
And that’s when the light clicked on that Father didn’t give us His Word to judge others, but to judge and test ourselves. Being aware is understanding that the righteousness of Christ IN you makes judging ourselves non-threatening. It brings awareness. I can look at this passage and ask, “Holy Spirit, is any of this in me?” Once I’m honest with myself I can then repent, losing the desire to be that way anymore, and thank Jesus that He is THE fulfillment of the Law, He IS righteous, and He IS in me. The more I can honestly test myself, the more I can receive the understanding of His righteousness in me and the deeper the intimacy I have with my Jesus and with my Father.
And I receive that.