The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth Will Set You Free

Emotions move us somewhere. We have to decide if we are going to let them run wild and take us on a treacherous journey or if we want to invest the time and effort to train our hearts and minds to direct emotions on a constructive course. We need to decide if we are going to believe what our feelings suggest or if we are going to evaluate how we feel in light of what we believe. And, ultimately, we need to expose our hearts to truth if we want to be set free from the tyranny of the emotions lurking there.

Only the truth will set you free.

Learning to evaluate our emotions in light of what we believe gives us the power to choose where our emotions will take us. We must learn to shine external truth on our internal turmoil.

When we bring truth to our swirling emotions, we realize we have choices. Having choices gives us hope. Having hope gives us strength. Having strength helps us to find our footing – and even if walking the path to which God has called us feels like we’re trying to run through a riptide, our feet are on the ground and we are no longer being pulled under and gasping for air, controlled by the tides of my every changing emotions.

Truly, the truth will set us free. The truth will set you free, too. Free from the tyranny of fear, control, and idolatry.

Sometimes we are tempted by fear.

For example, when my husband needs to travel and I am afraid of being a widow with seven children (yes, I always have at least one moment of fear that he’ll die while he’s gone), I can choose to believe he’s going to die. I can become consumed by my fear, ask him to stay home and not honor whatever commitment we’ve agreed he will keep.

OR

I can choose to believe what I know is true: God is sovereign and I can trust him with his sovereignty even if it means he walks me down the road of widowhood.

Ultimately I have to choose whether I will find my security in the presence of God or in the presence of my husband. The truth is, I am only secure in the presence of God, even if I greatly enjoy the presence of my husband.

Once I see my emotions are directing me to cling to a moving object for security, I can choose to place my hope in Christ, in God my Father. I can choose to trust that he loves me, takes care of me, and only chooses what is best for my good and his glory, even when my husband and I are separated by distance and his life is apparently in the hands of others (other drivers, pilots, angry pedestrians…).

Truth reminds me his life (and mine) are in the hand of God, and nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:38, well really all of Romans 8:35-39) or snatch us from his hand (John 10:29). It is this truth that sets me free from fear.

Sometimes we are tempted by anger.

Alternatively, when my anger rises because a child has locked us out of the car, I can choose to berate my child, shame my child, and/or condemn my child for his/her folly as I angrily get the spare key from the magnet box (getting dirty, too, mind you!)

OR

I can choose to get the key from the magnet box while I speak words of grace to my child knowing I have the extra key because I have locked us out of the car before. I can remember that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), and I can hold out the beauty of grace to draw my kids into Christ and freedom from condemnation.

I can choose laughter.

I can choose mercy.

I can choose to show how Christ cleans the sin from our hearts the way I clean the magnet-box grime from my hands.

I can choose to teach my kids to be responsible with the keys and to have a back-up plan. I don’t have to let my emotions drive my child away, I can steer them carefully to draw him in.

I don’t always do this well.

Sometimes I believe the lie that I am condemnable. I forget I am not condemned. I don’t live like I believe I have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). I listen to the whisper that I must be perfect, and as a result I demand perfection from others as well.

But there is hope for people like you and me. We can learn to make godly choices when we learn to shine external truth on our internal turmoil.

external truth

What’s lurking in your heart?

What internal turmoil needs to be brought into the light of scripture? Are there emotions raging inside you are afraid to explore? Is there hidden shame (believing your value is tarnished by your sin)? Or guilt (honest recognition you’ve made poor choices, but you don’t want to admit it)? Are you justifying anger by looking at circumstances instead of your savior? Do you feel powerless to make different choices? Overwhelmed by the temptation to react in a familiar-yet-sinful way?

It may be time to pray, “Lord, help my unbelief!” It may be time to dig into what you are feeling so you can accurately assess and address pain, fear, and discouragement.

Your only hope is in the Truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Shining his truth into your hurt is the only way to freedom.

Do you want to be free?

I’d love to hear how God is working in your heart today. Please comment below and let me (& others) know how to pray for you!

We Do What We Believe

We Do What We Believe

I saw an info-graphic on Facebook a few years ago with a system to find happiness. It listed several things to tell yourself, like, “everything will be ok” and “things will get better” and “you are lovable” and “you are strong” and “you can do great things.” Then it summarized the concepts with “We believe what we tell ourselves.”

At first I skimmed past it. I’m not a big fan of positive-thoughts-are-your-salvation type thinking, but that last line caught me:

“We believe what we tell ourselves.”

That’s profound.

It is similar to something we tell our kids all the time in the Quillen house.

When our kids are having a hard time obeying, we ask them to speak truth into the situation. God’s truth.

we act according to what we believe to be true

Speaking the truth into the situation requires training.

When our kids are having a difficult time accepting our answer, “No. You may not have candy at 7:28 a.m.”

Or obeying an instruction,”You need to put away your game and get ready for bed.”

Or finding confidence for a challenging task, like introducing themselves to a new friend….

In moments like these, we tell them to speak truth into the situation. We train them to know they will do what they believe to be true.

How do we train our beliefs?

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

These words are so incredibly helpful to me as a mom because they free me to begin teaching my kids things in areas I do not have proficiency without feeling like a hypocrite. If you want to train your heart and mind, begin with others (not on others, but with them). Find someone to join you in the process. If you are a mom (or a teacher!), your kids are right there under your care and keeping needing the same thing & make great accountability partners. If you aren’t a mom, you likely have friends, siblings, co-workers, employees, or potential friends you could invite into this training program.

Start early. Start often.

With our kids we start when they are toddlers by asking them to recite, “My mommy and daddy love me, they take care of me, they choose good for me, so I can trust them,” when they don’t like a decision we’ve made. (We didn’t invent this series of truth statements, we read them in a book – but I cannot remember which one to give full credit. I’ve scanned ever so many of the books we’ve read through the years – when I find it I’ll make sure I let you know. If you know, please let me know!)

Let the process mature.

When they get a little older, we ask them to fill in some blanks. “I know my mommy and daddy love me because they ________ . My mommy and daddy take care of me by ________. My mommy and daddy choose good for me when they ________. So I can trust them now that they’ve told me to ________.”

We get some pretty fun answers to fill in these blanks – it can be very instructive about what speaks love to your kids. We hear things like, “because she makes my dinner” (acts of service); “plays games with me” (quality time); “gets me fun toys” (gifts); “hugs me” (physical affection); “tells me I’m good at encouraging others” (words of affirmation).

This practice also reveals whether they are really doing the heart-work you’re targeting. If a child says, “I know my mommy loves me because she makes me say this stupid stuff,” your child probably isn’t working on their heart. You can meet them there, pray with them for a repentant heart, for eyes to see sin as God sees sin. The “stupid stuff” comments are a teaching moment, too. The “stupid stuff” moments are another opportunity to help kids through real-world moments they’ll encounter their whole lives. Because, let’s be honest here, how often do we express irritation and defensiveness rather than repentance when we are confronted with our unbelief?

Shift the focus to God.

As parents, teachers, or role models, our job is to lay the groundwork for living under authority so the kids in our keeping learn how to live under God’s authority. The reality is we really won’t be there forever. Kids grow up. They move out. They establish lives of their own. Even if your relationships are great and open and they respect and seek your input, they will do a lot of life without you. If Jesus tarries, death with ultimately force the issue.

So, as they get even older, we send them to the Bible to draw some conclusions. We begin to transition from us being their ultimate authority, to God as the authority.

Oh, we’ve told them all along that we are their authority by God’s design. They know we are under authority, too. We’ve taught them that God’s one instruction to kids is to obey and honor their parents, so disobeying us is disobeying him. And we’ve instructed them, verbally, how learning to live under our authority is preparing them to recognize and live under God’s authority. But at some point, we have to make a definite transition to focusing on God rather than us. It begins with changing the mantra to: “I know God loves me because he ________. God takes care of me by ________. God has chosen good for me before when he ________. So I can trust him and obey him now as I ________.”

And now we begin to see what they’ve learned about living the repentant life. Changing the proper noun engages their hearts in a different way. What they really believe to be true about God starts to influence their choices in a different way than when they focused on the steward rather than the king.

It’s an important shift.

Encourage independent dependence.

Then we need to remove the training wheels. Just like teaching kids to ride bikes, when the training wheels come off, we’re still there to help. The goal is for them to enjoy the joy and freedom of riding alone. As we enter the teen years, we need to help our kids apply their faith without us. We need to remove the training wheels, offer instruction, and be there to help with the accidents. Then we need to celebrate as they move from shaky, fearful autonomy to smiling, joyful, look-mom-no-hands stunt riding.

By the time you have teens, you are increasingly aware of the brevity of their time under your roof. Even at 13, it’s just five years until they are moving out into a world where they have to make decisions, fight with their own sinful hearts, deal with a fallen world without you being there. Do you remember how fast they went from birth to five? The days crept, but the years leaped, right?

Well, at 13 that’s how long you’ve got left. If they are going to own their faith, it’s time to help them practice ownership. They need to learn to wrestle with God. They need to learn to do battle with their own sin. They need to learn how to recognize the battle, identify the enemy, and follow the Victor. They need instruction, they need care after missteps. They need us to celebrate their fearful first attempts and to delight in their willingness to take risks for the kingdom.

You get that, right? There’s a danger in teaching our kids to say with Jim Eliot, “you are immortal until your work is done.” We need to teach them to have confidence in God and to take risks based on His ability, not theirs. But that means there will be stunt-riding.

They won’t get there if you do the work for them.

So, in their teen years, we often say things like, “What has God done that could encourage you to obey right now?” or “Where in the Bible does God promise to ________?” or “Does the Bible have anything to say about how God has provided for others in this way? How does that change your perspective on ________?” or “If you believe ________ about God, how does that inform your choices about ________ right now?”

You need this, too.

In reality, I have been training myself, too. I find I often need to remind myself, “My Father in heaven loves me. My Father in heaven takes care of me. My Father in heaven chooses good for me. [I’ll admit that part is often the hardest to see]. So I can trust him as I ________.”

That last blank can be filled with daily things, like, “I can trust him as I discipline my kids with patience and grace instead of yelling which I know will get immediate results, but not long-term, God-honoring results.”

That last blank can also be filled with monumental things, like trusting him with the death of a baby, or letting go of a dream, or being called to minister in some place/way I would never choose for myself.

We have been training our kids (and ourselves) to tell themselves the truth of the Bible so that they can make good decisions in difficult circumstances. We have been training them to choose what they will believe when they encounter their feelings and confusing circumstances.

It’s never too late to start.

When we started this process with our kids, oh probably 7-8 years ago, I was right there with my youngest kids. My heart was not trained to recognize my Father’s love, to rest in his providential care, to accept his choices as good, or to trust him with his sovereignty. I still struggle – which is why I keep training.

I’ve talked with a lot of adults who, even in their 70s and 80s, struggle to walk by faith because their hearts are not trained to rest in Christ. Harsh or absent or indulgent parents have left many adults crippled in their ability to see God the Father as good, loving, kind, and trustworthy. Far too many of us accept God is ABLE, but doubt he is WILLING to do good. Or simply fail to see that what he ordains is good because it’s different that what we’d hoped for.

sovereignty divorced from goodness

Confidence in God’s sovereignty divorced from God’s goodness results in a lifestyle of duty driven by doubt that things will work out and fear of what God might do next.

Confidence in God’s constant presence, the goodness of his providential care, and his power to overcome sin and the effects of sin results in a lifestyle of faithfulness driven by gratitude and grace.

We must train our beliefs with truth if we want to act according to truth. We must cement truth in our minds and hearts so we will make choices informed by strong emotions that we have no reason to regret.

We do what we believe.

What we believe drives how we act.

Put another way, our actions reveal what we believe.

Writing this post has exposed a lot of areas in my own heart where I harbor lies, rehearse falsehood, replay failure, and live in fear. I need to repent. I need to search the scriptures to find truth. My heart needs to be reminded that God loves me, takes care of me, and is choosing good for me, so I will trust him in these challenging days.

What about you?

Take some time today to evaluate the choices you are making. What do they reveal about what you really believe? 

Do you act as though speaking truth in love is God’s way to reach the hearts of your children? Or do you act as though yelling is the way to accomplish good behavior?

Do you view interruptions to your day as divine appointments to engage the hearts of others for Christ? Or do you become impatient with the people who interfere with your plans for the day?

Do you continue doing what you know you are called to do with a heart full of fear that God is just sacrificing you like he did Jesus? Do you struggle to see God’s good providence in your current circumstances? Or does your heart cling to the promises in scripture and count it a blessing that God includes you in his plan to suffer for Christ?

Where is God revealing your unbelief?

I’d love to begin this with you. Comment below or email me directly. Let’s re-focus our hearts on the truth we profess. Let’s train our hearts together.

Forever Starts Now

Forever Starts Now

We all agree that Jesus was sinless, but sometimes we forget he experienced a full range of emotions without sinning.

A brief scan of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life reveal he experienced a lot of emotions.

Love.

Hope.

Affection.

Acceptance.

Wonder.

Contentment.

Joy.

Compassion.

Pity.

Empathy.

Sorrow.

Grief.

Concern.

Hurt.

Betrayal.

Heartbreak.

Exasperation.

Distaste.

Contempt.

Anger.

Fury.

Anguish.

Jesus felt FURY? This makes us a little uncomfortable.

Most people grow increasingly uncomfortable as they read down that list thinking of Christ experiencing these emotions, but there are biblical examples throughout the life of Christ for each and every word I’ve listed there, right down to his (sinless) fury over the money-changers in the temple courts.

Jesus was regularly moved to action by his emotions – whether he was moved by compassion to heal the sick, or moved by grief to weep over the death of his friend Lazarus, or moved by agony to cry out to God as he looked down the path to the cross. He called his friends (the disciples) “dull” in a moment of exasperation. He was heartbroken when God’s chosen people rejected him. He was moved to compassion – begging forgiveness for those who killed him – for those who “knew not” what they did.

Jesus felt emotions, and he felt them deeply. Yet there is not one. single. account. in the entirety of scripture of Jesus stuffing his emotions down to avoid conflict, to keep someone else happy, or to save embarrassment.

Likewise, there is not one. single. account. in the entirety of scripture of Christ being so consumed by anger, fear, passion, or grief such that he said or did something he later regretted.

Jesus experienced every. single. emotion. we were created to experience, without sin, without regret, without shame.

Jesus experienced emotions without sin

Any true believer bases his salvation on the perfect sinlessness of the life of Christ. Indeed, without his perfect, unblemished, sinless sacrifice on our behalf, we have no hope.

We often forfeit the benefits of being united with Christ.

There is an extension of the hope we have in Christ which we often forfeit. You see, Christ’s death and resurrection not only assures us of eternal life, but also secures an abundant life for us starting now and lasting throughout eternity. We often say (with the Westminster Confession) our chief end, main purpose, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

What if forever starts now?

We don’t have to wait for heaven to enjoy God and his design forever. Jesus died and rose again for a kingdom that is now. Forever starts now. Abundant life is for now, not later.

His Spirit dwelling in us makes it possible for us to choose righteousness now.

His Spirit living in us gives us the power to pursue being fully human (with all the emotions that entails) now. {You can read more about how we were created for emotions here.}

Christ’s Spirit abiding in us frees us to experience emotions the way Christ experienced emotions, to feel deeply and be moved to righteousness. We can learn to experience a full range of emotions without sinning in them.

Knowing all this isn’t enough. Do something!

So, are you ready to enjoy God and his people now?

What lies have you been believing about emotions? Where can you bring biblical truth to those lies? Where do you need to repent?

I’d love to help you explore this further. As a matter of fact, I have an entire women’s weekend conference on the idea of Forever Starts Now. For more information on hosting this life-and-women’s-ministry-changing conference for the women in your church or community, please click here.

Forever Starts Now

And if you’d like individual help, please contact me. I have limited spots remaining for personal consultation at reasonable rates. Let’s talk!

Meanwhile, I’d love to get this conversation started online – comment below how you’ve seen emotions move you to righteousness or to sin.

Let’s pray for one another as we learn what it looks like to enjoy God and glorify him now.

I Forget, but I’m Not Forgotten

I Forget, but I’m Not Forgotten

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle to experience God the way he’s presented in scripture: holy, loving, present. Probably because I have trouble experiencing myself the way scripture portrays me: human, with all the dignity and shame humanity entails.

The problem is not scripture – but my failure to connect with God through scripture. Having been raised in the church, all too often, my eyes pass over familiar passages without really engaging them. So, I started writing scripture down; it makes me go through it more slowly.  Recently I copied out a familiar story, and in the space between the letters, I could picture this event:

Now [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:41-46

Have you ever done that? Forgotten a child?

One time my husband and I were planning to make a 14-hour drive with our kids. We taught the pre-schoolers during the mid-week Women’s Bible Study and planned to leave right from church when we were done. I will admit that the civilized chaos of alternating groups of children through our program followed by passing them back to their mamas with craft projects in hand left us a bit frazzled.

Finally loaded and ready to go, my husband looked over his shoulder to back out of our parking space. That’s when we noticed the empty infant seat. My heart stopped and my stomach knotted up instantly. It only took about three minutes to race back into the church and retrieve our baby, but the feeling of horror the moment I noticed the baby missing has never escaped my memory.

Mary and Joseph probably had to wait until the next morning to return to Jerusalem to find their missing child. Can you imagine the angst of that long night?

Can you imagine looking for three days in a city that no longer felt warm and welcoming? They searched streets, alleys, and marketplaces for their missing child, not knowing where he was. What went through their heads as they ached with guilt over leaving him?

I feel a certain camaraderie and connection with Mary and Joseph. As I wrote out their story by hand, I could feel their humanity – and I began to relax in my own.

This is why Jesus came.  Because I mess up.  Because I forget.

Sometimes I realize I have been missing Jesus. I just plod along the path and at some point I notice I’ve forgotten him.  The truth is, he came so that I could find him. His word, his Spirit, and prayer… these are all means to finding him. Again and again. And he’s always right where I expect him to be: sitting in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49; John 14:2-3) interceding for me (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34),

Other times, I realize I don’t trust that God really remembers me. I feel forgotten. Jesus came for this, too. He came because he wanted me to know a Father who would never forget me. (Psalm 121: 1-8)

What about you? Do you desperately look for Jesus when you notice you’ve forgotten him? Are you able to rest in the knowledge that God has not forgotten you – however bleak your circumstances may be?

 

Easter is Why We Worship

Easter is Why We Worship

Yesterday we celebrated Easter.

Resurrection Day.

Greetings of “He is risen!” were met with, “He is risen, indeed!” in the halls of our church. Faces were bright, happy, and hopeful.

Worship was enthusiastic and joyful in a way it isn’t on other Sundays. I’m good with that. It is similar to how my affection for my husband is amplified on our anniversary. The annual celebration of our wedding anniversary is more than a nice dinner out, it’s an opportunity to remember our commitment, to celebrate faithfulness, and to look ahead to another year of being married and walking together with Jesus. Celebrating our anniversary inspires affection and renews desire.

The annual celebration of Easter is more than an Easter Egg Hunt and a festive service with like-minded believers. It’s an opportunity to remember God’s commitment, to celebrate his faithfulness, and to look ahead to another year of being in his church and walking with Jesus. Celebrating Easter inspires gratitude and revives my weary heart. I need the annual reminder of God’s sacrifice and victory at Easter the same way I need the weekly reminder of the relevance of scripture for my days through Sunday worship, and a daily reminder of his presence in my moments through personal study and prayer.

I don’t want to move on too quickly from the refreshment I find in an Easter service.

Easter is why we worship.

Easter is about the risen Christ who has set us free to live the life for which God created us.

On Good Friday we think about Jesus on the cross. We should.

We think about him hanging there between two criminals – thieves.

Stop there a minute.

Theft earned crucifixion.

We don’t really think about stealing as a crime deserving the death penalty.  We barely view murder as deserving the death penalty!

God takes theft seriously, doesn’t he?  As a matter of fact, he takes all sin seriously.

All sin deserves the death penalty – which is why Christ came.

If you think about it, all sin is theft, in a way.

  • We are stealing God’s glory when we sin.  We tarnish his name by taking the image of God in us and distorting it into something ugly.
  • We steal from his world when we abuse the earth rather than exercise dominion over it.
  • We steal from his inherent creativity when we create vulgarity instead of beauty.
  • We steal from his people when we hoard instead of giving lavishly to others.
  • We steal life through abortion, slander, gossip, and silence.
  • We steal joy through criticism and judgment, cruelty, envy, and anger.
  • We steal innocence and destroy fidelity with our clothing choices, language, and no-fault divorce laws.

I think these are just some of the ways our enemy steals, kills, and destroys. Jesus stands in stark contrast to the thieves hanging beside him, because they deserved to be there for taking, while Jesus came to give (John 10:10).

We don’t think too much about the thieves because we know they at least did something wrong – even if we don’t consider it worthy of the death penalty.

And I think sometimes we don’t think too much about ourselves in that light either.  Sure, we did something wrong, but is it really worthy of the death penalty?  If our sins came to light – the half-truths, the critical words, the judgmental heart, the coveting spirit, the contention, dissension – and we were condemned to death by lethal injection or electrocution – we’d be outraged!  It would seem unjust.

But it’s not.

God said, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

I need to be reminded of the death penalty I earned by my sin.  Not because I live condemned, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). No, I need to be reminded of the great debt that was paid.

Easter reminds me of a life characterized by theft, murder, and destruction (even in their lesser forms), and that I have been freed by someone else to live a different life.

The events of the first Easter are why we can worship.

Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of his Spirit who calls us and teaches us to worship him in spirit and in truth!

How Will You be Remembered?

How Will You be Remembered?

Last Sunday I heard a great sermon. I thought of all kinds of folks who would benefit from that sermon. Since my husband is the preacher and the sermons are recorded, it’s even possible for me to make sure all those folks I thought of during that sermon get a copy. I can even email the link – no postage required! Technology is awesome, isn’t it? It’s a great tool for sending light to penetrate the darkness.

I’m glad the truth preached from our pulpit can enter the day-to-day experience of folks in other parts of the world, but sometimes I wonder if it enters my world. Sometimes I wonder if the words preached in my hearing penetrate my heart.

I know I’m not alone in this. There is at least one Bible story that points to this common experience.

Mark 14:3-9
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Now I know you may be wondering how this passage relates, but bear with me a minute!

Let’s look at this scene more closely.

Jesus is visiting with some folks in the house of a friend. Probably a marginalized friend, since he was know by his ailment. A woman comes in and effectively pours $47,000 worth of perfume on Jesus’ head. The folks sitting around are indignant. They’re thinking their cultural equivalent of, “Wha…?!?! I could’ve sold that on eBay for $47,000! Think how many bottles of clean water that would’ve bought for the Sudanese refugees!”

All true.

And yet Jesus rebukes them.

Now it’s our turn to say, “Wha…?!?!”

The thing is, the folks scolding this woman were not comparing her actions to Christ – who lived a life of sacrifice – but to themselves. And it is for that thought Jesus rebukes them. He reminds them they will always have the poor among them and they (they, as in those folks sitting right there) could do good to the poor any time they wanted.

But they didn’t want to.

They wanted this woman to.

Jesus takes a moment here to remind them to look to their own actions before he vindicates hers.

It’s as if he says something like, “Sure, she could have sold the flask and given the money to the poor – there are poor folks all around. But you there – you sitting there condemning her actions – what are you doing with your money? You can do good to the poor any time you want. But do you? You are neither giving to the poor nor sacrificing an astronomical amount for the kingdom.”

Which is where this experience intersects with my sermon experience.

Words of scripture rightly preached are an invaluable resource. But what do I do with that resource?

Do I invest the teaching God has given me in kingdom work by shining light on the sinful places in my own heart? Or do I deflect his prompting and judge other people’s actions by the truths I hear? Do I evaluate myself in the light of the active sacrifice of Christ, or do I evaluate others in light of my actions?

When we hear preaching and teaching in various contexts, God is always asking the question. “What are you doing with your heart? How does this change what you know about Me and you? How does this change you?”

There’s one other aspect to this story I think we should consider. Jesus honored this woman by promising that wherever the gospel was preached, her action would be retold. She is remembered.

But so are those who were sitting there.

This woman is remembered for her sacrifice. For her love for Jesus and the kingdom. For her love. (Indeed, we are called to love one another as Christ loved us – and to be known for such love!)

Those who were indignant are remembered for their indignance. For their hard heartedness. For their condemnation and judgement and apathy.

How will you be remembered?

__________

This post builds on the theme we’re talking about today over at Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study. If you’d like to join us you can subscribe to that Bible study with daily devotions here: http://eepurl.com/bPCVqn.