“When dealing with yourself, use your mind. When dealing with others, use your heart.” – John Maxwell
Introduction – Dedicated to my co-workers at Cates Control Solutions
I was writing about the Core Values of the company I work for. I feel I have to interrupt that series for two reasons: 1) My recent behavior betrayed that I adhere to those values only when it suits me, and 2) The lessons I am learning here are rich, meaningful, and important.
Something happened at work, the other day. In my mind it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. It was time for me to take action and speak out. That is exactly what I did. I spoke out. The end result was less than stellar. My conversation had deteriorated to the point that I was not being constructive, but destructive. The very people I wanted to reach were put off by my behavior and speech. Nothing was gained, and any trust I had earned was in jeopardy of being lost. I had let my mouth run before I had put my mind in gear.
All this time I had been praying about, speaking about, and writing about the finished work of the cross, and the exchange that took place between God, Jesus and Man at the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. My behavior and speech betrayed an entirely different story, though. And when I finally cooled off enough to listen, I heard a Loving God tell me that my conduct was less than becoming for His child. It was a simple rebuke, and lovingly spoken, but I have not been the same since. I am undone, and I hurt that I let my Lord down so blatantly.
Being filled with the Spirit of God doesn’t mean you are finally a fully grown child of God. It means you have just been born again. And being born, you are nurtured for a season in the sweet and warm light of the Spirit. As you grow, however, the Spirit of God will begin to gently and lovingly teach you lessons on the character of Christ. If you pay attention, and receive these lessons, you grow, and it doesn’t hurt. But if you are a jackass, like I tend to be, the Spirit will let you have your way, and deal with you lovingly, but in a way that you can see your selfishness in the same light as God sees it. That is where the pain is. When I see myself behave badly, I feel the same pain as the Spirit must feel when looking at rebellion.
“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” ― John C. Maxwell
“For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12
Where Are My Roots?
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1 – Jesus
I have a choice. I can abide in Christ, or I cannot. I can choose to do either one.
Choosing not to abide at all has a consequence all its’ own, and I will not write about that here.
The choice to abide in Him is what this is about.
When I choose to know God and be transformed into the likeness (behavior) of Christ, I am aided by the very power of God to be conformed into Christ’s likeness. When I chose to take matters into my own hands, I have stopped abiding in Christ. This branch in me bore fruit, but not Godly fruit. This branch must be pruned in order that it may bear good fruit. The sap that runs in the branches, powered by the Holy Spirit, bears good fruit. Good fruit is that which leads others to Jesus, that which demonstrates Love, Mercy, Grace and Forgiveness.
The Spirit of God will deal directly with you, without condemnation, and with all Love, Grace and Mercy. It is only Satan who accuses you and condemns you. The Children of God behave as Christ does, the Children of Satan, behave as Satan does. The evidence of who we follow is borne in the fruit we bear.
What is My Fruit?
“Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” Matthew 7:16b – 18 – Jesus
Do my words and deeds bear fruit that others will enjoy and grow from? Do the words of my mouth bring life or death? Is my confession holy or unholy? If my words cause division, strife, scorn, hatred, and alienates my confession from my identity, then I am bearing bad fruit. My first fruit has to be forgiveness of my own shortcomings, so I can forgive others of theirs. I can do this when I remember that Jesus died of ALL sin. He became all sin and bore the wrath of God. In exchange, He gave me His holiness and His Grace and His Love and His Mercy and His standing with God. This exchange, this fruit, has to grow in me as I abide in Him. Apart from Him I can do nothing. There is no other way I can bear good fruit.
I am grateful to God that He chooses to forgive and prune me, rather than just throw me away at the first sign of my weakness.
Where Are My Thoughts?
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1 – Jesus
If I want to be received well by my fellow-man, I must treat my fellow-man with all the love and respect with which I want them to treat me.
It may be that, when my fellow-man judges me, that they simply do not really know what I am doing, or what my vision of my job is. It may simply be that they are unhappy with the way I do things because it is not the way they would do it. It may be that they cannot let go of a past whose spirit I embrace, but whose method have not grown to keep up with the amazing growth of Cates.
When I judge them, rather than accept them, I have closed any door of communication that could exist. I have lost a friend. If I want to have friends at work, I must first be a friend at a work. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.” Proverbs 17:17
I desire to understand my co-workers as well as be understood by them. My words and behavior will determine if I can accomplish this.
What Am I Doing?
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 – Jesus
If I am forgiven, I must speak forgiveness to others.
If I have received Grace, I must speak gracefully to others.
If I have received Mercy, then I must be merciful to others.
If I am Loved of God, then I must love and be lovely to others
I Will Reap What I Sow.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over — will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
This is a universal principle. You do not have to be any religion to see this happen in your life. You will always get back what you give to others, and you will get it more abundantly than you gave it out. The difference between the Christian doing this, and others doing it is this: When a Christian does this, the end result is the Glorification of God for what He accomplished through Jesus Christ.
I have a choice of where I want to store up my treasures. Being merciful and graceful doesn’t mean everyone will be merciful and graceful back to me. Some people are just evil in their hearts and delight in the demonstration of that evil. But, for the most part, people will always give back to you what you give to them, and they will give it back with interest, and they will invite their friends to do the same.
If I am reaping something at work, it is probably because I sowed it, first.
My Heavenly Father, I love you and Praise you because of the finished work of the Cross, and all the gifts you have given me because of it. I pray, in the Name of Jesus, that you bind my tongue to the truth, and teach me mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. I pray that you teach me how to encourage others to do the same. – AMEN
“Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Reality is what exists regardless of human opinion.” – Chris Putnam
Part 2 coming.
Let’s Be About It!