We must beware of carrying the “behaving” part of the Old Covenant into the “transformed” part of the New Covenant.
5:1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.
I’m confused. I just read on GotQuestions.org that mankind has a sin nature and it’s pervasive, that we all are totally depraved. Here is a quote:
Proof of the sin nature abounds. No one has to teach a child to lie or be selfish; rather, we go to great lengths to teach children to tell the truth and put others first. Sinful behavior comes naturally. The news is filled with tragic examples of mankind acting badly. Wherever people are, there is trouble.
I was inclined to agree until I thought through the matter. Yes, the news is filled with people acting badly; it makes attention-grabbing news. But, the news also carries stories of heroic acts, good deeds, and even penance by do-gooders who may or may not be Christians. So, to say that everyone is bad because we make bad choices ignores the opposite logic that we are good because we make good choices. I believe there are two basic truths that govern our actions:
- We are created with the ability to choose. In this ability is the choice to do right or wrong.
- We were never intended to make these choices on our own. God made us to be interactive with Him.
For instance, take Peter walking on the water,
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
When Jesus is with us, we need not be afraid of anything: wrong choices, other people’s wrong choices, death, etc. He exhorts us to take courage, for He is with us.
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Peter wasn’t testing Jesus, he was trying to get to Jesus. Sometimes it seems like impossible circumstances. No Fear! Jesus is with us!
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
I believe that if every disciple had jumped out of the boat, they would have all walked to Jesus. He wants us with Him. No Fear.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Here is where we get our wires crossed. Peter sinned. Now, before we condemn Peter, let’s look at what it means to sin. Sin means “to miss the mark.” It’s an archery term. The case here is not that Peter did something bad, but that the waves made him fear, which made him take his eyes off Jesus, which made him doubt Jesus and his own ability to get to Jesus. When Peter feared, he “missed the mark” of the truth about Jesus, himself, and his circumstances.
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Evidently, Peter was close enough to Jesus that all He had to do was reach out His hand to catch him. The point is that Jesus did, indeed, catch him. The phrase, “you of little faith,” is literally, “you little faithless one,” which was a term of endearment that Jesus used with them several times. Maybe we should all consider ourselves small children in this department.
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
This is the best part of the story. Peter was with Jesus, in the boat, and on calm seas. One Gospel says that they were immediately on the other shore (John 6:21). They all had a big worship service professing that Jesus is really who He said He is: God.
In the quote from GotQuestions.org, children fight with their God-given right to choose, but over time as they grow, they learn to control those out-of-control thoughts and feelings. Christian or not, most people learn to master their ability to choose. Those who do not pay a very high cost in life. Jesus offers us the wonderful gift of Himself to guide us and to help us make right choices. Tomorrow, we will look at how He guides us and helps us to make right choices. (hint: it has to do with what we think of Him)
Abba, our ability to choose is how we partake in the divine; to choose on our own is what makes us human. Help us to interact with You concerning all decisions. You want to be involved with every area of our lives including our thought life, love life, free time life, opinion life, what we say life, and our belief life. May we turn to You at every opportunity, because I know that at every opportunity You are waiting to pour out Your love, joy and peace, hope and grace on us. You love us; we are Your little children! I love you, too, Abba. Amen.