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.
It is becoming more difficult to find TV shows that don’t have a hidden message. Whether that message includes references to evolution, a dig against modesty, or the normalization of sin; there is always something to guard against.
Romans 12:2-3 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
The apostle Paul warns us that taking part in the world runs of the risk of us conforming to the beliefs of society. It is Paul’s hope that Christian’s diligently study the word of God so that they may be able to transform their mind from the world. We are then immediately warned to humble ourselves so that our judgment can be accurate. Those who are proud and those who conform to the world are not thinking clearly and run the risk of losing their soul.
Romans 12:9-17 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
To ensure we remain sober and our beliefs are aligned with God’s, Paul gives a list of things we can do. Christians are expected to have a genuine love and affection for each other. They are sickened and hate being in the presence of evil, only finding peace absorbing what is good. They are selfless, meek, and humble with their interactions; and they are devoted to serving the Lord above all things. To follow the will of God is not the easiest thing in a world full of distractions, but it is achievable if we are willing to study and obey His word.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
How we view the world is directly related to the beliefs we have. Some of our beliefs are based on the country we were born, the region we grew up in, our ethnicity and even the traditions our parents taught us. As a result, we see things differently. We can have the best intentions, but our beliefs can cloud our judgement and impede our decision-making process.
Proverbs 16:1-6 (ESV): The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
This helps explain why you may have had a disagreement with someone and everyone believes the other person is the one that needs to apologize. As Scripture depicts, each of us sees our actions as pure. That is why it is crucial for us to be humble and unassuming in our interactions. If we are humble and respectful of the desires of others more than our own, we allow ourselves the ability to recognize the possibility that our beliefs are not founded in reality. While it may seem like “overkill” for God to call the arrogant person an “abomination”, it is important to understand the full implications of their arrogance.
Proverbs 16:16-19 (ESV): How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
A prideful person who believes their perception of reality is always correct is going to have a misunderstanding of most situations. They will likely find themselves assuming the worst of others, while frequently giving themselves the benefit of the doubt. With an improper understanding, they will entertain evil and make statements that offend others. It will also be near impossible for them to be convinced they are wrong about anything. As a result, a prideful person cannot be helped and their pride will be lead to their downfall. They believe their actions are pure, but they are contradicting the word of God. Each of us must be vigilant and on-guard against the misunderstandings of the heart by always being humble and meek in our interactions. Otherwise, we will find ourselves on the wrong side of the gates of heaven, confused as to where everything went wrong.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Throughout Scripture, there is several common themes that continue to reappear. One of them is the need to be obedient to God in spirit and in truth.
I Timothy 4:11-16 (ESV): Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
You can see from the passage, the apostle Paul is telling Timothy what he needs to do to progress in the faith. On the truth side, there is the need to read and understand scripture. As you grow in understanding, you need to teach. On the spirit side, you need to conduct yourself with love and purity. Growth cannot occur unless you are working on spirit and truth. It is not enough to understand scripture if you do not care about living the values they portray. It is also true it is not enough to love others, if you are not interested making sure your advice is scriptural. There is the need to be consistent in word and deed.
Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV): And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As God's children, our goal is to please Him. Even though we may have the best intentions, it is not our place to set the standard. We have to be humble enough to accept the fact we do not always have the best ideas. Choosing to focus on spirit is to devalue the need to understand scripture. On the other hand, choosing to focus on truth is to devalue the need to do all things in love and purity. There is a balance Christians need if they want to be effective when encouraging and bringing others to the faith. It is God's desire for all to be saved and to come to repentance. As Christians, it is our mission to bring His desire to fruition; and the only way to accomplish our goal is to live as the Father commands.