The Shadow of Self-casted Poverty
Recently, my sister Hannah, my buddy Karl and I took my youngest brother Jonathan on a surprise birthday trip to Mt. Rushmore. It was fun to spend quality time with each other and enjoy the full depth of a grand adventure.
One part that stuck out to me was the seized opportunities that Jonathan, 17 years old, took by seeking the knowledge and wisdom from the three of us. I am not boasting, by any means, simply honoring his efforts to grow in his relationship with Christ and planning for his future.
My brother is wiser than he thinks he is while he stands on the doorstep of immeasurable odds with college, career, a new life and a faith that will be tested to his perceived limits. These will be the times that he must decide, who is the failure and who is the victor in his life. This sense of responsibility and obedience has been a reoccurring theme the Lord has placed in my path over the past few months.
In these past few months, I’ve had to face my past and peer deep into my previous friendships and wonder, “Where did I fail? Could I have been more supportive in my efforts to be a positive influence? Did I lead my friend into a self-absorbed mentality? Was I empathetic enough? Was I empathetic too much?”
These questions are a healthy part of the Christian nature. The Apostle Paul did a similar self-evaluation repeatedly and encouraged fellow believers to do the same.
The act of forgiving someone has also echoed this overarching theme. Jesus said in Matt. 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus is talking about 3 things in this passage:
- Leave your act of obedience in worship to be responsible and seek out your brother.
- Reconcile with them.
- Return to your worship.
These tasks require faith, responsibility and obedience. These tasks demand perspective as well. A perspective that must exist in order to have faith, responsibility and obedience.
So where is this all going? What is the repetitive theme the Father has placed consistently in my life? My brother’s pursuit of righteous discernment, my broken friendship and the act of forgiveness all have something in common; Responsibility.
How many times have we witnessed or spoke in defense of ourselves? We are so quick to strike up blame against “forces beyond our control.” When judgment is upon us, we shift the blame on bad luck, death, sin, Satan, God, our parents, family, co-workers, time, bosses, mentors, friends, Facebook, money. We cast a delusional shadow of emotional and physical poverty upon our lives and say “Poor me.”
There is always a responsible party, and the Lord showers us with grace in the opportunity to observe it and appreciate it. There are two views that have my focused attention: either responsibility falls on me or on someone else.
Do you see the lesson the Lord has taught me? Our choices, our sin and even our righteousness fall on the responsibility of individuals. The Lord is sovereign, and we are accountable for our actions.
The two strongest points I’ve learned through this is:
- I must allow others to be responsible for their actions and not let myself be the failure or victor in their life. That does not imply that I should be less obedient to the Lord or stop praying for them. But it does mean that my intentionality should not be grounded on either result.
- In contrast, I am responsible for my actions. It is a simple yet powerful reminder. Lean on the Spirit for conviction and allow your heart to be sculpted by him.
Rest assured, God will glorify himself. Whether it is through your obedience or the example you become. There are numerous facets of God’s wonderful design of obedience, let this one be another reason to lift His name higher than the losses or victories in your life.