Divided Loyalties

5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. [James 1:5-8, NLT]

I had turned to the book of James looking for a scripture about “faith and works”. I thought it would be the foundation for my new post. But, I didn’t get there. Instead, my eyes were caught by the above passage which I had highlighted in my Bible several years ago. As I read it, I gained an entirely new insight. One I would like to share with you.

James 1:5 begins, “If you need wisdom…”. Are you kidding me? “If” I need wisdom? Oh, how I’d like to think every decision I’ve ever made (or will make) was wise! And that means no matter how large or small the subject was, or will be! But, we all know better. However, I think that’s what triggered my new thoughts about this scripture.

James goes on to tell us that if we need wisdom, to ask for it and God will give it to us. Sounds great, but there is a, “…But”. “But, when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” (Emphasis mine). Does anyone one else see a problem here?

We have all experienced times when we have prayed; and (at least to date) have not gotten a response—or at least one we recognize. So, let’s go back to that, “But… be sure your faith is in God alone” passage. It continues (paraphrasing now), …a person with divided loyalty… should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

And this is where the light came “on”! I’m my own worst enemy. Or, I (with Satan whispering into my ear) am my own worst enemy. Here is what I mean…

I’m going about my day and doing just fine. Everything is going my way. Then I notice a minor problem out there on my horizon. It’s O.K., I see it and there are several ways this can play-out. “All I really need do is ‘such and such’ and I can easily head it off.” So, with that done, I’m again doing just fine, “thank you”. It was just one of those routine issues that catch-up to you from time-to-time. You know, just “…part of life.”

A week later and with no warning, that “minor problem” is back BIGGER than I ever thought possible. But, this time I get smart. I ask God to help me implement my new and improved ‘such and such’ plan. I also tell God that I’m trusting in Him to ensure that it works this time. Now, with God’s help I can’t fail! Or, can I?

Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have an ego issue. And in a situation like this my loyalties are definitely divided. My first loyalty is to ME. I want MY plan implemented. And, my saying I’m trusting in God is just a sham. Three messages being delivered—loud and clear!

Well, James certainly points out the problem; and Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 6, gives us the answer:

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”[NLT, emphasis mine]

That said, I will always make some of my own plans. After all, I do pray for wisdom; and, I think God gives me a “certain amount” of wisdom. But neither do I want to leave God out of my plans. So my solution is to make time to talk to Jesus multiple times per day. I talk about everything going on in my life, good and bad. I include any plans I have made. I hide nothing. (Do I have to ask if you think you can hide anything from God)? I ask Him to correct my errors in judgment and show me how to proceed. I thank Him for His presence and all He has accomplished in my life. And finally, I stay ever vigilant for any warning signs of misplaced ego and other sins.  No it doesn’t always go exactly like this; but I keep working on it.

Heavenly Father, It’s obvious to me that you are always at my side. However, this thing about my free-will trumping your intervention in the consequences of my actions is, …inconvenient. I know I need the resultant lessons. Yet there are times I wish you would just dump all the wisdom I’ll need for this life into my hard- head, all at once. But, that would probably kill me. Besides, I do know you have already given me access to all the wisdom I’ll ever need, through your Word and prayer.

Lord, teach me to be thankful for the lessons; and, quick to avail myself of the resources you have freely provided. I love you,

Avery Goodday

To my readers:

Thank you, for your time. My next blog will be the one I had in mind when my “focus got shifted”. It’s title: No Other Way

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