Are Negative Personality Traits An Excuse to Sin?

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,  Hebrews 2:11

Our backgrounds, childhoods, upbringing can affect our personality traits. But does this necessarily have to hurt our walk with the Lord? Sometimes it can. God never tempts any man toward sin.  The fault lies in our own desires and temptation from Satan. God allows us to see our personal weaknesses so that we may better understand ourselves and as a result,  lay these undesirable characteristics at the feet of Jesus.

God sees all of our issues: our need for attention, our coldness toward people, our shyness, our tendencies to be aggressive, our suspicious and mistrustful eyes, our stubbornness, or avoidance of communication and conflicts, our exaggerations, our need to emulate others, our desire to exalt ourselves, our insecurities with ourselves, our hastiness, our passivity, or our controlling nature.  All are shortcomings that God wants us to eradicate from our lives. All are areas to which God does not turn a blind eye. When God creates situations that show us the negative side of our personality, it is for our growth as a believer.  We have loving God that shepherds our spiritual development.

Yet, after the situation has passed, we should examine why the struggle  with our personality happened in the first place: “Why did I overreact to that question?”  “Why did I assume the other person was wrong?”  “Why was I hurt by this situation?” If we are unwilling to seek God for the answers to these questions, we will only have a shallow Christian experience and not the deeper walk that God wants us to enjoy.

For example, a conflict between people is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to degenerate into catastrophic damage. Disturbances in relationships with the people around us often happen when differing views collide.  The collision can be the result of opposite perceptions.  People’s backgrounds and past experiences can affect how they view day-to-day situations. The way they think, the way they react to things or perceive things or the words that come out of their mouths. Someone who gets frustrated or gives up easily, for example, may need more encouragement to find a job or overcome a lingering trial because they lack perseverance. He or she doesn’t see things through to the end and quits too soon.  That person may struggle more to complete a task than someone who regularly sticks to his or her guns. God sees this weakness, however, and will send that person through areas that will try his or her stamina in that particular area. He will put that person in conflicts where he or she has to stay the course and see things through to the end without complaining.

Personality traits can hinder accomplishing goals.  Someone who gets frustrated or gives up easily, for example, may need more encouragement to find a job or overcome a lingering spiritual battle because they lack perseverance. He or she doesn’t see things through to the end and quits too soon.  That person may struggle more to complete a simple task than someone who regularly sticks to his or her guns. God sees this weakness, however, and will send that person through areas that will try his or her stamina. He will put that person in situations and conflicts where he or she has to stay the course and see things through to the end without complaining.

Christians even after being forgiven of all their sin, can hold onto behaviors such as laziness, undue criticism of others, controlling behaviors, perfectionism, stinginess, over-sensitiveness, stubbornness,  mistrust of others, argumentative behavior or chronic impatience for a variety of reasons having to do with their backgrounds. Although it is essential to get to the bottom of our personality issues, our background should never be an excuse for sinful behavior.  To sin, you have to make a choice.  In order to keep doing what’s right, the Christian must recognize and push back against the wrong that presents itself through the flesh.

God will come in through the sanctifying experience and give us the power to face these character killers, cleanse us and transform our personality where he will not be ashamed to call us brethren.

from How to Walk on Water              DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

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Human Emotions

In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see fear, guilt, shame, contentment, anger, and happiness. Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Jesus showed extreme levels of emotion in his walk here on earth.  He was human in every way.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;  (Hebrews 5:7)

Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Emotions come and go.  How many times have you felt depressed or sad, but the next morning you felt great?  I’ve known of some churches to teach the Christian experience at such an elevated level as to make it inhumane. Emotions do take time to process especially when something tragic happens like death, terminal illness, or a divorce.

It’s normal for us as humans to experience lingering sadness and depression over enormous hurts, such as the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  If someone harms your child, it is human to feel hurt, anger, anguish, and a desire for justice.   While the Christian may certainly struggle with feelings of anger, hurt, revenge, we fight not to succumb to them and we pray for God to provide peace. Christ gives us strength beyond ourselves to endure and overcome.  I’ve been there and back and I’ve been amazed at His power to overcome evil with good.  Since God has grace for all these things, He encourages us to come boldly to the throne so that damaging emotions will not find a settled home in our hearts.

We will be hungry; that cannot be erased.  We will be angry.  We will desire the opposite sex and companionship; those hormones and attractions are part of our mortal fabric. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.  We will not want to suffer problems, pain, death, injustices, rejection, isolation, loss of relationships, loss of health, or fear of the unknown. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.

Though we are human, our hearts have been changed with the touch of the divine. Our focus while suffering these things should be to follow the steps of the one “who did no sin, neither was guile [craftiness or deception] found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

In other words, Jesus left an example of how we should live. We should walk in the same path as our Savior. A person who believes he or she can’t overcome even the most minor temptations because “Well, what’s the use? God looks at me as a sinner anyway and I can’t stop doing wrong,” is not living the way God intended.  The mindset of Christ is to walk in his path and do what He would do.

Christ never emphasized the weakness of man over the power of God.

excerpt from How to Walk on Water     DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

The Crazy Comey-esque Church Firing

Watching what happened with FBI Director James Comey reminded me of the time I was fired –at church.  Like so many, I’ve been watching with interest the current events of the last week regarding the firing of James Comey.  I’ve heard comments about the messy way the firing was done (not even a heads up or a handshake?), Comey’s prior mistakes, Comey’s support or lack of support in the FBI.  Of course, if you listen to the Huckabee-Spicer-Trump connection from the White House, you would think he’s the worst FBI director of all time, but that’s politics. Continue reading

The Humanity of Jesus

 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)

Knowing all of our weaknesses and human frailties, God provided a remedy—Jesus Christ.   Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh [the weakness of the law was not the law itself but the sinful nature of man] God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus condemned using the weakness of the flesh as an excuse to sin by wrapping Himself in the same substance we are wrapped in—not just to be compassionate to our human condition, but to show us that His power could make us victorious over our sinful condition. The very purpose of this sacrifice was to free us from the power of sin and not just its penalty. Salvation doesn’t just cancel out the sins we committed; it also gives us power not to go back to those sins again and stay free from them. John 1:12 says, “To as many as received HIM, to them gave he POWER, to become the sons of God” (emphasis mine). Although being tempted is part of life, we, who are His children, always have the power to say “no” the devil and overcome temptations.

Praise God for that strength.

God exhorts us to watch and pray, be diligent, and stay away from things that will feed our temptations. Even though living free from sin does not involve excluding ourselves from everyday contact, 1 Corinthians 5:10 says, “for then must ye needs go out of the world.” Jesus did not pray that we are taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil ( John 17:15).

A holy life is a simple obedience to the Lord with all your heart and all you know to be right.

The Bible shows several examples of Christ’s humanity.

hypostatic-union-before-resurrection

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was willing to obey God’s plan and go through the expected suffering, but his humanity said in Matthew 26:39, “Lord, if this cup may pass from me….” In other words, He essentially said, “if there is any other way to avoid this agony and death, please find it.”  As a human, He did not want to go through the suffering.  When He learned Lazarus had died, Jesus cried out of hurt and compassion. He got tired, hungry, and thirsty. He suffered rejection, isolation, and injustices. He became angry and frustrated with the disciples at times.  Yet, Hebrews 5:8 states that He learned to obey God by the things He suffered.  We also have to learn to obey God through the trials we suffer.

excerpt from How to Walk on Water  DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Little Foxes

It’s the small things that hold up progress. In my time as a minister, I’ve seen many people appear to have achieved perfection in Christ, but it turned out to be just their own version of perfection—perfect church attendance, perfect church attire, perfect children (that you know of), perfect involvement in auxiliaries, and perfectly faithful in their chosen post of service. Only later they find, through major mishaps in their spiritual experiences, that they had missed some very important lessons in serving God and growing in Christ.  Scripture clearly defines what God considers perfection.

In Matthew 5:48. various Greek words are used for “perfect” in the New Testament, one English word remains constant in translation, the word complete.  Christ’s sermon spells out for all of us as Christians that our righteousness must go beyond the outward compliance with the laws and regulations God laid down under Moses.  The law of Christ demands an obedient heart as well as a change of heart toward His voice and the Holy Spirit. Here Christ describes the divine love that needs to be in the hearts of all believers. It is easy to be drawn into the routine of Christian living and become self-righteous like the Pharisees in measuring up to the “rules” of Christianity.  Like the Pharisees, we can become concerned only with being strict keepers of the Law and miss the “weightier matters” of “judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” as Matthew 23:23 says. The Pharisees were overlooking the small but important parts of serving God and the honest joy of walking in the light.

There is great joy to be found in being honest about our shortcomings. I had this personal “thing” where I didn’t like borrowing other people’s clothes. I know; go figure. I could shop at the thrift store just fine, but the idea of asking to borrow an outfit seemed different to me—couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was because I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Vestiges of pride were obviously hanging on.

Back when I was going through the financial hardship, God allowed me to be in a situation where I had to attend a fancy birthday dinner because it would have been too rude not to go.  I didn’t have the money to buy anything, not even from a thrift store.  So the Lord told me to simply “borrow a dress” and even told me who I could call. I contemplated, considered, and toyed around with the idea for days. I even told my husband to just go to the dinner without me because it was just too embarrassing for me to put on the “rag” I had in my closet.  But even though I was truly ashamed of what I had to wear, I did not want the solution God put in front of me. Since I could not escape the obligation, however, I realized God wanted me to attend, which meant I had to borrow the dress from the person God told me to borrow it from.

The person I needed to call had the right dress, just like the Lord said; it fit perfectly, and it was just the style I would have chosen myself. She even told me to keep the dress after the party—ain’t God good? Now if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit and refused to come face to face with my pride, I would not have learned this valuable lesson in love, giving, and following the Holy Spirit. Now that might seem like a ridiculous thing, but small things can be troublesome and a hindrance to your spiritual growth.