Friday, October 4, 2013

Trade Ins

It costs something to be a true Christian. It will cost us our sins, our self-righteousness, our ease and our worldliness. J.C. Ryle

We trade in a lot of things.  Old TVs, old cars, electronics, etc.  All with the intent of replacing it with something shinier, newer, better, more up to date.  Following Jesus works much the same way.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (KJV)  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
We hear a lot about repentance.  Most who talk about it a lot turn it into an action of our flesh required for salvation.  As we’ve pointed out many times before, anything produced in our flesh is worthless in God’s eyes.  So, how that could be construed as a way toward salvation is beyond me.  But repentance is necessary.  Let’s reread that verse, but in the Amplified version.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (AMP)  For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].
The Greek word for repentance is metanoia.  It means changing one’s mind from evil to good or from good to something better.  The Hebrew word naham is similar, with a note of regret for what we turn from.  In both cases, it’s a turning away from one thing and toward another.  Not to take it lightly, we could consider repentance a detour (hopefully permanent) in the right direction.  Or, in the context of the theme of this post, we trade in our thoughts and actions for God’s thoughts and direction, which gains us a relationship with Him.  We trade in one thing for something better.

What else do we give up?  Fear.  The Bible tells us over 370 times not to be afraid or fear not or not to be anxious.  That’s enough for at least one reminder a day.  We trade in fear, anxiety, and insecurity.  We get, in return, the ability to trust the Creator of the universe.  We replace uncertainty with trust and depression and sadness for God’s joy.  We trade in one thing for something better.

There are some who depict God as a vindictive twerp who takes great pleasure in squashing us like bugs if we fail.  Modern psychology shows that anxiety and fear tend to focus on negative experiences and see similarities in present and future possibilities.  That kind of depiction of God feeds from that kind of thinking into continuing that kind of thinking, for ourselves and others.  We need to trade in one thing for something better.

If we go through the Bible, we see a different picture.  What we see is a perfect God who created a perfect environment and gave it to us to enjoy.  Thinking and action, whether correct or not, had consequences.  We, unfortunately, chose to deviate from the best choices.  Part of the consequences were changes to all of creation.  Prior to that, Satan and some of the angels rebelled against God.  Hell was created after Satan’s rebellion, for him and the angels who followed him.  But there were (and are) only two options for them and for us – follow God or don’t follow God.  Live in spiritual deprivation or trade in one thing for something better.

Adam’s choice gave us a spiritually genetic tendency to choose the wrong option.  And that’s where God being depicted as vindictive is most proven to be otherwise.  Yes, He created the consequences for both options.  But God cares enough about His creation (us!) that He created a solution for the problem before the problem occurred.  Before creation, the Father had planned on Jesus going to the Cross to give us the gifts of repentance, salvation, grace, and mercy.  All we need to do is accept them – to trade in one thing for something better.

We can hang onto misery or we can latch onto His joy.  The circumstances matter far less than what we do with them.  What are you doing to trade in something for another that’s better?

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