By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As the saying goes, “show me who you hang out with and I can tell you something about yourself”. This is because we traditionally hang out with people we are comfortable being around. Comfort can be derived in many ways, but the most common form of comfort is acceptance of who we are. This is not to say everything our friends take part in is a direct reflection on us, but it is saying people who frequently disagree with each other tend to have fewer interactions.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
We should not be confused by the notion we can have friends we disagree with on a core level. Our core values should be something we are unable to compromise; so each time a core disagreement arises, it will likely be a point of contention. If it is not an issue, then it is reasonable to conclude one of the participant’s core values have changed or it was never a core value to begin with. Much the same as siblings or a spouse will inherit characteristics of their loved ones; we will absorb tendencies based on who we surround ourselves with. This is part of the reason we often see the Bible telling us to limit our interaction with divisive and ungodly people.
Romans 16:17 (ESV): I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
If we maintain good character, bad company will not want anything to do with us. Shining a light in a world of darkness is the surest way to have a limited amount of friends and an abundance of adversaries.
John 15:18-19 (NIV): If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples knew if they lived as He did, the world would hate them. The passage also holds true for us today; if we live as the world lives, the world will welcome us with love. The people we befriend are a direct representation of this passage. If they are a part of the world and they befriend us, then we may be a part of the world or at least accepting of it. We should take no part in ungodly acts, but use our interactions to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). If we speak truth in love as Jesus did and shine our light, we will be able to influence those around us for the better. This leads us back to the opening statement; show me who your friends are and I will tell you something about yourself. The question for each of us to answer is whether that represents our understanding of ourselves, and if not, what can we do to change?
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Sometimes it is difficult to give credit where credit is due, respect where respect is due, and honesty where honesty is due. In life, people we traditionally disagree with will periodically make a valid, indisputable point. When that happens, are we able to admit it or do we try to dismiss it? We are led to believe if we support one stance today, then we are unable to support an opposing stance tomorrow. We are told if we align with one person on a particular issue, then we forfeit our right to disagree with them on another issue. This can create conflict and turmoil in our life because we can find ourselves supporting something that should not garner our support. Or we can find ourselves dismissing something that we traditionally agree with.
Romans 13:7 (ESV): Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
We should not force ourselves to conform to ideas that are contrary to our belief system for any reason. If we find ourselves disagreeing with someone we love and respect; that is permissible. We owe everyone our respect, honesty, and love; but we do not owe any person blind allegiance.
Romans 13:8-10 (ESV): Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Luke 6:35 (NIV): But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
That is why it is important to make sure we live in a manner that allows us the freedom to speak honestly and openly. We don’t want to accept anything from anyone that could be used to manipulate our decisions.
It is equally important for us to make sure we are not putting anyone in a situation where they have to compromise their belief system. Even if we believe leveraging our relationship with someone can be to their benefit, we don’t want anyone to feel forced into anything. Whenever someone is coerced into doing something, it implies love is absent from their motivation. There is nothing peculiar about someone leveraging a relationship to attain a desired reaction; but there is something peculiar about someone giving without expecting anything in return. We want people to see our love for them and know that is the love of God in us. Let us continue to be careful in what we owe others and what we allow others to owe us; we don’t want to hinder or be hindered in any way.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There are many good reasons we are not aware of the exact time and day that Jesus will return. When we do not know exactly when something will happen, we tend to devote more time in preparation.
Deuteronomy 11:18 (NASB): You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
Similar to a teacher informing his or her students there will be multiple pop quizzes throughout the school year. The teacher is attempting to get their students to pay attention in class each day; as well as study the material before returning to class the next day. We should also consider the motivation to get the students to show up to class every day. Teachers understand test days have the highest probability of all of their students coming to class. Students understand test days have the greatest effect on their final grade, so they feel compelled to come to school. By instituting pop quizzes, teachers want students to weigh each day equally important in an attempt to get them to come to class regularly.
Matthew 24:37-39 (NIV): As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Why does Jehovah want us to weigh each day equally important? Resembling a teacher’s motivation for not telling us when the pop quiz will occur; Jehovah wants to help us reach our full potential by fully understanding the material. When we know when and where the test will take place, we can memorize every answer the night before without actually learning anything. The test of life is not about whether we memorized all the correct answers, it is about us learning and creating a life style mirroring Christ. We want to know and live the material to the point it is a part of who we are and not something we will discard for any reason.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV): Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
It is in our best interest to live each day like it our last, make each decision like it is the most important, and treat each person we encounter as if they were Jesus Christ. Only then will we be able to truly absorb the words of God in our mind and more importantly our heart.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Mark 9:14-16 (NIV): When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
For those looking to be healed, they show a tremendous amount of faith. They travel incredible distances, endure ridicule and setbacks; yet their faith continues to strengthen. It is important to note this because as we continually see throughout scripture, it is our faith that heals us (Mark 10:52). We see a strong example of faith by the father whose son was demon possessed since childhood. This father likely explored several avenues over the years without success. He watched his son without control over his own body; try to kill himself by throwing his body into fires and water (v. 22). This father realistically spent most of his time in fear of his son’s (and his own) life being lost. And just when the father thought he found the solution to his problem, we see he was unsuccessful when he asked some of Jesus’ disciples for help in removing the demon.
Mark 9:17-18 (NIV): A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
Like all of us, the spirit can be willing but the flesh can be weak. The father in a moment of weakness uttered the words, “if you can” to Jesus and Jesus immediately noticed. When Jesus followed up with the father, the father without hesitation acknowledged his weakness and asked Jesus to help him with it.
Mark 9:21-24 (NIV): Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
We can see the example of the father requesting (praying) for his son to be healed and for help with his unbelief. We can also see Jesus crediting His ability to remove the demon to the power of prayer (v. 29). It appears the disciples did not pray as Jesus did, and like most of us, whenever we forget to pray, we end up failing. Let this be a healthy reminder that we have the power to change the world if we start with prayer. We have to lean on God’s strength and understanding, not our own.