By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Have you ever noticed the relationship between “trusting in God” and “trusting in yourself” through the Bible? Throughout Scripture, it appears it is almost impossible to trust in yourself and to trust in God at the same time.
Proverbs 16:9 (NIV): In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
This is evident throughout the Bible, but it is a main theme in the Old Testament. God provided numerous signs, wonders, and prophets/prophetesses to show the people His way. However, the Hebrews continually relied on their own level of trust and comfort to make decisions. When Moses traveled up the mountain to receive God’s word, the Hebrews grew impatient and created the golden calf (Exodus 32). When God told the Hebrews, they did not need an earthly king, they harassed Samuel and ignored his warnings until they received an earthly king (1 Samuel 8). Even throughout the book of Judges, there was an all-too-clear cycle: disobey God’s word, receive punishment for their disobedience, repent and ask for deliverance, God provides them a deliverer (judge), deliverer (judge) dies, Hebrews disobey God’s word, and so on it went.
Romans 10:17 (ESV): So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
It is not that we cannot plan our course, nor is it that having goals is bad. The issue comes when we are not allowing God to establish our steps. When we make plans outside of God’s will, we are only taking our needs and wants into account. We are putting our trust in ourselves and what we believe will suit us best.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV): So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
As a result of them having more faith in themselves than they did in God, the Hebrews relied too much on what they could see. They wanted to see their relationship with God, so they build a golden calf. They wanted to see their ruler, so they begged for a king. They needed to see a representative from God, so they disobeyed His word whenever a judge died. The human desire to build faith by sight is not new. We find it difficult to grasp that someone can understand Jesus without “seeing Him”, so we create images in hopes to help build their faith. However, the apostle Paul says that it not faith at all. He also says there is more than enough “invisible” attributes in nature to understand God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). This foundation is understandable at all ages, and then it becomes an exercise of building on that foundation by studying the Bible. God continues to give us all we need to bring someone to repentance. Trust in God and His will, see what He has already provided and know that is enough for all to be saved.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
The Bible is full of passages warning about the danger of allowing yourself to be angered. Even verses that are used to justify anger, fall short of a full endorsement.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV): Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul warns Christians to be on guard because anger can lead to sin. To help them avoid sinning when they are angry, Paul gives them a couple of good rules to live by. He tells them that they should not allow the sun to go down on their anger. This means the issue and their anger should die with the sunset. This ties in well with Paul’s expectation that Christian’s should bear one another’s burden and not keep records of wrongdoing (1 Corinthians 13:5-6).
Proverbs 19:11 (ESV): Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
It is a person’s glory from God to overlook the offense of another. There is a saying that we seek “justice” when something is done against us and we want “mercy” when we do something to another. By setting the expectation that the sun should not go down on our anger, Paul is implying that the issue should not continue to be brought up. The word for anger in Ephesians 4:26 could also be translated as irritation, indignation, or exasperation; meaning we should not continue to be frustrated or bothered by the actions of another.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 (ESV): Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Psalm 37:8 (ESV): Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
You will notice that throughout Scripture, those who are angry are often compared to those who are fools or evil. While there is the example of Jesus being angered by the hardening of the hearts of those he was speaking to, Jesus did not have any ill-will with whom he was angered (Mark 3:5). The verse continues and says that Jesus was grieved (could also be translated as: felt great sympathy) by their stubbornness, meaning He wanted better for them… not himself. Oftentimes, anger is a sign of selfishness and shows an arrogant or prideful heart. That is why Paul ends his warning about anger by telling the church to give no opportunity to the devil. For in the manner in which we forgive others, that is the manner in which our Father will forgive us. We should not be angry for personal reasons and we definitely should not harbor ill-will. We should be willing to forgive and accept the glory that God promises for those who are willing to overlook the offense of another.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Have you ever noticed how God reacts to the idea of being afraid or worried? We find throughout Scripture that God does not see them as appropriate reactions. Regardless of the situation, God wants us to understand that He is always in control. What this means is even though things may not go as we would like, that does not mean that we should allow our fears to overwhelm us.
Joshua 1:8-9 (ESV): This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We are expected to find strength in the fact that God is with us where we go. Notice there are no caveats or exclusions. God promises to be with us wherever we go. All we need to do is remain faithful to him and stay strong in His word. The mistake many make is their source of strength is themselves or something in the world. The problem occurs when we realize we are not in as much control as we would like to believe. Whether that lack of control results in a broken relationship, a loss of your job, or a bad financial investment; it is tough to make the “best decision” and things don’t work out.
Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV): “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
If a relationship deteriorates, then trust that God knows you need some space from that person. As difficult as losing your job may be, trust that God understands where you need to be working. If you spent a small fortune on a “sure bet” and found out that bet was not so sure, be confident in the fact that God does not believe you need that money right now. God’s goal is for all to be saved and to enter the kingdom of heaven. Anything you are separated from on earth may have altered your salvation, and there is nothing more precious than your salvation.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
I remember when I first heard the phrase, “put on Christ”. It was in reference to putting on the whole armor of God found in Ephesians. The next time I heard the phrase “put on Christ” was during the invitation where nonbelievers are encouraged to put on Christ in baptism. In both instances, there is a reminder that knowing is not the same as doing. We must be willing to take action based on the beliefs that we espouse to hold true.
Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV): 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.
You will know when someone has put on Christ, there is a dramatic transformation that takes place. The apostle Paul encourages Christians to live a life of patience, kindness and meekness to show they are God’s chosen people. Paul also lists the need to show compassion for others, bearing with one another and forgiving each other. You may have noticed that these attributes are not common in everyday life. As God’s chosen people, we are to live a life that is aligned with His values.
Colossians 3:5-10 (ESV): Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
The mistake we sometimes make is we attempt to put on Christ without putting to death our old selves. You will notice in the above passages that Paul starts with the need to put to death your old self before instructing us to put on Christ. The reason is clear; before we put on Christ in baptism, we are walking with the world and participating in feelings of anger, wrath, malice, and slander. Peace and joy are found in the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the only way to be saved is to put on Christ in baptism. Even if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is the Son of God, we are not saved until we “put to death” our old selves. It is only by putting to death your old self that you have the ability to put on your new self. Similar to the need for us to put on the armor of God for protection. We cannot put on the armor God while wearing the armor of the world. So, I ask you, have you put on Christ… and do your actions demonstrate the same?