With my cup of coffee in hand, I am sitting here pondering polar extremes. Two realities at opposite ends of a spectrum. For example, yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a day of calm, peace, and contentment. Today, the busiest day of the busiest season in the retail year, is a day of frenzy and covetousness. The suddenness of the shift from one extreme to the other is disorienting.
We all place ideas, thoughts, actions, and words on a spectrum and assess them. The polar ends of the spectrum are labeled “True” and “False” or “Right” and “Wrong” or “Good” and “Bad.” In our culture of relativism, those distinctions are quite blurred (Judges 21:25).
To bring clarity to the madness, God has given us His Word (Heb 4:12, John 6:63). From God’s perspective, there are other descriptors for the spectrum of man’s ideas, thoughts, actions, and words: “Holy” and “Evil.”
One extreme of the spectrum is characterized in the Word of God by
• Faith (John 6:29, 2 Cor 5:8, Heb 11:6)
• Others-centered/denial of self/humility (Matt 22:36-40, Matt 16:24, Matt 23:10-12)
The other extreme is characterized by
• Unbelief/idolatry (Matt 13:54-58, John 12:37-50, Is 42:5-8)
• Self-centered/indulgence of self/pride (Prov 6:16-19, Is 14:12-14)
In the light of God’s Word, we can quickly assess our ideas, thoughts, actions, and words as to their place on God’s spectrum. However…when it comes to the circumstances of our lives, we are unqualified to make assessments.
Losing a job. Getting a big raise. An illness or disease. A flat tire on the highway. A promotion that takes you to a new city. The death of a loved one. Cutting yourself with a knife. Getting in the mail a gift certificate for a free Baskin-Robbins banana split with whipped cream, cherries, caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, and nuts. Waiting in any line. Time in jail. The list of life’s circumstances is endless.
What seems to us to be “Good” could be, but it might actually be “Evil.” What seems to be “Bad” could be, but it might actually be “Holy.” If a “Good” circumstance causes us to indulge ourselves and become prideful, it is in reality an “Evil” circumstance. If a “Bad” circumstance humbles us and increases our faith in God, it is in reality a “Holy” circumstance.
A circumstance that results in me increasing and Jesus decreasing is “Evil,” regardless of how much pleasure it brings me. A circumstance that results in me decreasing and Jesus increasing (John 3:30) is “Holy,” regardless of how much pain it gives me. All circumstances are temporary, but they are used by the eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful God to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18).
Through study of (2 Tim 2:15) and obedience to (James 1:22, John 15:10) the Word of God, we see more clearly the realities of life. Ideas, thoughts, actions, words…and circumstances.
Thus, with the orientation provided by God, we are able to give thanks in every thing and let our light shine!
1 Thes 5:18