Life has a way of spinning Isaac Newton’s third law of motion on its head. Physics tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life has an equal, and often duplicate reaction. No one lives in a vacuum and everything we do has an impact, either positive or negative, on others. And yet, how we act and react is completely up to us.
Yesterday I had to complete a conflict resolution case study for a class I’m taking. Using personal experiences. To be honest, I’m waiting to get an “I’m concerned about you, Jennifer,” email from my professor. Funny how the spotlight on past behaviors cuts through the self-justifying fluff we spoon ourselves every day. “If only he hadn’t…” “But I deserved…” My all time favorite? “I can’t help it!”
Galatians 5:22-23 and 2 Timothy 1:7 says differently:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
According to the Bible, if we have given our lives to Christ, we’ve been given everything we need to live lives pleasing to Him.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3
So no more excuses! (And yes, I’m talking to myself!)
I’ve been camped out in Genesis lately, studying the life of Joseph, and I have a feeling I’ll be staying here for quite some time. The story of Joseph’s life is like a big, multi-layered onion. Or more accurately, like a multi-eyed potato will thousands of off-shooting, intertwining roots. Talk about a dysfunctional family. His father, Jacob, was a deceiver, (which is what his name means) as was his grandfather Laban. His mother and aunt (both married to Jacob) were in constant conflict, a conflict they dragged the entire family into. Joseph’s brothers were violent, reactive, and consumed with jealousy. And in the midst of it all was little Joseph–the boy with the fancy robe.
Joseph was anything but perfect. From what I read, it appears he suffered from a heavy dose of pride, but the one thing he had going for him? Somehow he managed to stay above the fray. Mound upon mound of manure was hurled his way, but no matter how many commentaries or study guides I read, I can’t find a single instance of him hurling back. I think this is because he kept his eyes upward–on God–and not on the manure pile. In the end, his full surrender led to glory–glory to God and glory for himself. Not to mention the saving of a few thousand lives (if not millions. I really don’t know how many people reaped the benefits of Joseph’s obedience. If you have a round about figure, I’d love to hear about it. Just shoot me an email.)
Life is one giant chain reaction. Ever choice we make has consequences, either positive or negative. We act, our spouse reacts, then we react on their reaction.
And every day, we have an opportunity to stand above the fray, to tap into that spiritual powerhouse Christ has given us as believers, and turn our eyes upward instead of on the stinking manure pile. We have the power to do it. The only question is, will we? Is Christ’s death worth our full obedience, even when our pride is at stake? Because that’s normally what it boils down to–pride. But God opposes the proud, remember?