Friday, June 24, 2011

Avoiding the Appearance of Evil?

Author: Susan L. Prince

"Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thess. 5:19-22 KJV) has often been used to caution Christians about doing anything that might look like sinful behavior to another, or further, might cause somebody to stumble in the faith.

The verse has always kind of bothered me because I am conscientious about my behavior and would never want somebody to stumble because of something they saw me doing. It also would bring up discussion about doing things that appear evil to one person, may not appear evil to another, we all have different opinions about what constitutes "questionable behavior," like going to the movies, or maybe into a bar, or what we watch on tv. 

 I often think about Jesus and his ministry and how he hung out with "sinners" and was around people who partook of wine at parties and spoke to tax collectors and prostitutes. If His behavior had the appearance of evil, how the heck am I going to avoid appearing evil? 

It's also interesting to note how different generations in the church view certain things. The older generation might say the guitar or drums in church is evil, or that rock music is "of the devil." Dancing or smoking a cigar might be a problem for some, or possibly having a tattoo, but when we start avoiding things that others' might deem "questionable," we start infringing on a believer's liberty in Christ. We can easily become legalistic and start calling things "unclean" that simply are inconsequential to God or are pure in His eyes. It also can cause us to start judging one another, our actions and motives, so I think properly understanding this verse is very important.

I heard something on the radio yesterday that brought this to the surface of my brain and I thought I'm going to research it. It turns out that I could only find the "appearance" term in the King James Version, and that in the translation I use, NIV, it says, "do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." It says "avoid every kind of evil. Other translations use, "every form of evil," and I like what The Message says, "Throw out anything tainted with evil."

It became clear to me just from that little revelation, that Paul wasn't saying avoid questionable behavior, he was saying avoid anything sinful. It is important to weigh what is said, or prophesied, and determine if it is good or bad and if it is bad, avoid it!

"Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thess. 5:19-22)

I think it is better understood that we avoid evil, no matter how it appears to us, or in whatever form it takes. Evil can appear to us in many ways, even as "an angel of light," which is why we need to first determine if what we encounter is good or evil, and if it is evil, throw it out and run away!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

"What Makes You Think...???"

Author:  Susan L. Prince

Isn't it amazing how something said almost in passing can literally "stop a person in his tracks" and really change a person's thinking?

Has that ever happened to you?  It has me and I am going to share the nugget of wisdom that was passed along to me a year or so ago by my friend, Chris Rowland.  Chris probably won't even remember the conversation, and she can't know how much those few words she spoke that day impacted me.

I was sharing with her one day in a quick conversation that we just happened to pick up in passing, that I wasn't sure I was really getting anything out of the discussions we'd been having in our SaLT Group Bible Study and I didn't think I was going to go one night.  (Really, it was probably just a lame excuse because I didn't feel like going.)  Chris said to me, "What makes you think you are supposed to get something out of SaLT?  Maybe we are supposed to get something from you."


Chris and I went on about our day going separate ways, but what she said struck a chord in me.  I'm the type of person that really ponders and thinks about things when they are spoken to me, and that just wouldn't let me go.  The Holy Spirit convicted me, and used Chris Rowland to point out an error in my thinking at that time.  What she said was also a springboard for me to start utilizing my spiritual gifts the way they were intended to be used when God gave them to me.

Armed with the understanding that as I study my Bible, God will reveal things to me for the sole purpose of helping others' see truth, I can use my gifts to edify the Body and glorify God.  It is my part in the Body of Christ!  It's not about me!  Ever since that talk with Chris, I have approached Bible study differently and understand that God may use me during our SaLT Group meeting times to impart a word to another person.  He may not, but it is my responsibility to prepare myself appropriately and be willing to use my gift at all times.

Now, here's another cool thing that I realized talking with a friend at church today.  My friend confessed that she sometimes is fearful to speak up in a group of people with something that the Lord may be prompting her to share.  I tried to encourage her using this story of Chris encouraging me, but then realized something else, that if you don't share what God wants you to, you are robbing God's people.  I also pointed out that had Chris not shared with me that "maybe we are supposed to get something from you," I would have continued to rob God's people from something.  The flip side of that of course, is the "ripple effect,"  Who knows how many other people have been affected by what Chris said to me that day?

What Chris said to me opened my eyes to see that I need to be available to God and be obedient to share with others what He reveals to me.  Over the course of this past year, as I have learned to share more and more, it is quite possible that something I've passed along has impacted somebody else profoundly.  I'm not saying that to toot my own horn, because I'm not, it's all God anyway, but I am saying it to point out that God may have charged you with speaking truth into somebody else's life, and you need to be obedient to tell what you know.

So, I ask you, the reader, what makes you think you are supposed to get something out of _________?  Maybe we are supposed to get something from you."