by Steve Bacon
Is there really a time or season for “everything under the sun,” as the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 proclaims? If I say amen, does that give me permission to embrace a time of anxiety for the lack of my basic necessities for life? Such as, what I’ll eat or drink or the condition of my clothing? After all Jesus gave a clear directive against such worries in Matthew 6:25.
Can I justify participating in a time of criticism and judging of other people? Can I also bask in the glow of my self-righteousness for just a season? And what about doubting that God will come through for me in a time of crisis or, persist in holding a grudge for a few hours beyond sunset?
Really, if there is a time and season for everything can I cash in on any of those things that will make me feel good?
I suppose I can. I just need to turn a deaf ear to the sound of conviction when reading Jesus’ teachings on such matters and live through the consequences.
That has been the trade-off for mankind doing what he feels like doing ever since the first act of defiance rippled across creation in Genesis 3. Clearly, there is never a time to ignore God’s Word and disobey His clear direction without drastic and deadly consequences.
But now really, why can’t I still do what I feel like doing if no one is going to get hurt? Can’t I just enjoy the good feeling it brings me? Consider this illustration.
Let’s say that I let a friend talk me into skydiving. You’d have a better chance of getting me to shave my head, but let’s just go with the skydiving idea for now. While onboard the perfectly good aircraft that is ascending into the clouds, my friend begins to tell me how the one feeling he truly lives for is free-falling. “Nothing compares to it,” he says, and decides that today he wants to experience the feeling to its fullest extent. Right then and there he unbuckles his parachute, opens the door, and with a huge smile on his face, jumps from the plane.
Now my friend will no doubt thoroughly enjoy what he feels like doing to the max until he runs out of sky. For him, there is indeed a time for everything. Thoroughly enjoying an uninterrupted moment to be free to do what he feels like doing, but there will be devastating consequences that will soon disrupt his enjoyment.
Maybe today you feel like eating that one-pound bag of M&M’s that was leftover from Christmas, but you can’t do so without adding thousands of calories to your body. Maybe you feel like telling your arrogant manager what you really think of her latest idea. That too will have consequences.
As disciples of Christ we may choose to pass through life on our own terms doing what our emotions dictate, and you can bet our loving Father will permit us to do so, for a season. But His shepherding heart will not let you, his adopted son or daughter, continue that pattern for long as the writer of Hebrews informs us:
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11).
- Think about the decisions you have made over the past week. How often are your final choices made by yielding to your emotions?
- What areas in your life have you been exhibiting questionable behavior?
- Do you find yourself rationalizing to continue in this behavior? How?
- If while enjoying this “free-fall” you were to come face-to-face with God’s discipline, how might the consequences affect:
Your reputation among unbelievers?
Your testimony with other Christians?
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
What are some of the victories you have been blessed to experience that only were realized because you were honest with God and didn’t resist His escape plan?
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Wow! This is the perfect message for me. The exact problem I have been struggling with. (Sorry my preposition is on the end of my sentence…) I have always worn my feelings on my sleeve. If I”m mad you’ll know it. If I’m sad, I’m crying uncontrollably… But now I have children with severe emotional regulation problems and after years of tantrums and defiance, I’m finally learning that I am the one who is setting them off. I don’t have the right to endulge in anger or display frustration because the consequence is an answering display in my child. This has really created a home with no peace and harmony. And I am modeling, teaching the behavior that is frustating me! Things are getting better!
Teri I know that you have been called to bring up those children to understand love and God’s plan for each one of them. I can’t imagine how you are able to be all things mom/teacher/counselor to your children but God has already seen the outcome and I can see as they get older that they each have their own unique path and journey to their purpose. I can’t wait to see when theyvadventure in to adulthood where they will be and what they will be doing but it always amazes me that we can play such a vital role as church family/teachers and that just listening to their interests their unique individual passions is so ething they long to share. God bless you and your family.
Teri, I loved this post! It always amazes me–God finds a completely unexpected way to shape our character by zeroing in on some aspect that we wrestle with. (There’s my preposition!) This isn’t nearly a good comparison but it is funny–early in my position at the university I attended a meeting. Two individuals were going at it–I am a pretty expressive listener and I followed the verbal tennis match closely–complete with facial expressions. Someone observing me actually went to my boss and mentioned that I rolled my eyes at some comments–I bet I did! I was so embarrassed–my face was so deadpan at the next meeting that someone asked me if I was ok–I have learned to be closer to the vest with my emotions in a professional setting–it certainly doesn’t come naturally!! You have discovered something critical in your parenting–you are a beautiful mom demonstrating incredible submission to His perfect will for you and your family. My advice for the near future? Don’t get caught rolling your eyes–even if they totally deserve it…
Michelle you made me chuckle lol
Thank you so much Pastor Steve for a perfectly timed message. It did make me reflect on some things I have just recently said and did and one was so poignant it slapped me in the face concerning ministry and conditions of the space etc. It is true that God calls us to minister wherever we are placed and thank you for that reminder. Also for the reminder that there are ministries you may be doing just because they need to be done. Are we though by filling those gaps all the time not allowing the space for someone God is calling to be part of that ministry? Possibly when we try to always control and always be “the leader” the person God is calling to step out thinks they don’t need anyone there- makes you step back and look a little better. There are many opportunities in our church family but sometimes not many workers in the field. May God make it abundantly clear to those seeking where they should be serving the right path and those who maybe have always just done the work because it is needed step back and let those people fulfill what they are called to be doing. I trust that God’s timing is always perfect. Mine is not but His always is!!!!!!!
At the close of the message I ultimately went to John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
I actually own a sweatshirt with this verse on it! Emotions pass–our feelings don’t necessarily represent reality. Ultimately, they are not trustworthy. My prayer often is, “Lord, help me to see this person or this situation the way you see it–give me your heart for this person, your wisdom for this situation.” It is easy to go off the rails and attribute motives to someone’s actions when I really have no idea what they were thinking or why they acted in a particular way. It is easy to react to the back story I have imagined–much easier than presenting my body as a living sacrifice and my mind for renewal and transformation. It is easier to rescue an errant child than it is to let reality be his teacher. The feeling that I want to prevent my child from experiencing pain robs God of the ability to teach that child an important lesson. How often have I trusted that feeling (fear?) and acted on that feeling over God’s plan? Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!
I so appreciate your insight here. Thanks for sharing!
I relate, oh I relate! Ty for your transparency Sister!
Love the message here Steve. And WOW, that first question is a doozy! Thanks for challenging us to take stock
That’s a good reminder Pastor Dave. We do need to make the best use of the time that we have here on this earth. If we give into the flesh we are glorifying self😝 I looked up your Jeremiah verse and yes the heart is desperately wicked who can know it? the Lord does know it and the Lord is willing to change us but we need to partner with Him in that change! Honesty with God every day examining our motives is a good lifelong policy!