Every once in a while on my journey thru the Bible I come upon words that are hard to accept as necessary in my life. Perhaps a more accurate way of saying it would be that even though I realize they are necessary (they are in the Bible so of course they are necessary!) they are still hard to live out consistently.
I’ve started to keep a list of those hard to read and apply words. Words like “discipline” and “submit” and anything that points us to the place where we need to “surrender” our desires. My facebook friends tell me “forgiveness”, “patience”, and “wait” should be added to that list. Yup, all are words of truth that are for our benefit yet so very hard to incorporate into our lives. They are words full of potential and yet the process of trying to live them out often seems like a difficult path to walk each and every day of our lives.
But did you ever notice they are easy words to use in regard to the life of others: “she needs more discipline in her life”, “he needs to submit to leadership”, “you need to surrender that issue to God”. They’re just hard to accept when pointed in our own direction. All of these words suggest a path that needs to be followed; all of these words point us in a direction of correction.
Proverbs 10:17 reminds us that “People who accept correction are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore it will lead others astray.” When we ignore correction – especially the correction found in the truth of God’s word – we run the risk of becoming a stumbling block in the lives of those we love.
Yet when I see those hard words and think about the pain the process of change would seemingly bring to my life today I get overwhelmed. Maybe if I could look at those those hard words and recognize the benefit it will produce in the future, for me and for those I love, maybe just maybe I would be a little more motivated to work thru the hard stuff.
I suspect the same could be said of a few other things we have a tendency to avoid; truth we find in God’s word that we may have a hard time prioritizing in our lives. Truths like seeking wise counsel – which might include going to see a professional counselor or simply turning to those around us and asking for advice. Truth like being prudent financially by budgeting, saving money, seeing ourselves as stewards of all that God has blessed us with. Parenting truth; marital truth; the truth God’s word tells us about the attitude we should have towards work, towards giving, towards others. It’s all in there. In fact 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”, and verse 17 tells us why: “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
The servant of God…umm, that’s us folks. As servants of God we do not need to fear the truth found in His word, even truth that is difficult to hear because it contains some hard words. It is all for our good, to equip us for the work that God has for us. When we allow fear of today’s pain to keep us from pursuing tomorrow’s benefit we have lost sight of the call on our lives. God never says to us “avoid all hardship and pain” instead we are reminded to fight the good fight and finish well. 2 Timothy 4:7 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. I doubt Paul would have mentioned those things had they come easily. They mattered so much because he had to work so hard to accomplish them.
James 1:4 reminds us to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Allowing the word of God to guide and correct us seems to have become an option in our lives today. An option we often choose not to take because it’s hard, we don’t like the work involved with it, or perhaps we are just too busy doing all the work that we have planned for lives. But here’s the thing, if we have given our hearts to Christ, if we have confessed our sin and acknowledged that we need a Savior, allowing the word of God to guide and correct us is not AN option in our lives, it is the ONLY option we have in order to be thoroughly equipped for every good work that He has planned for us.
We need to persevere so that we can be mature, complete, not lacking anything as we live out our lives for His glory! Even when the words seem hard and the work is painful.
Uh oh, I think I’ve written myself into that Hebrews 12:11 corner once again. It was true when it was written and it’s still true today: No discipline seems pleasant at first, but painful, yet IN THE END there is a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who are TRAINED by it.
Peace and righteousness…what more could a peace lover ask for? The process may be painful but the result will be beautiful. Living out the truth of God’s word will keep us on course.
Even when those truths include words on my “Hard Words of the Bible” list.
Until next time…