Contradictions

purple flowers

Contradiction…we all know and understand the meaning behind this word.  Two things that oppose each other.  In English class we call them antonyms.  The two words that mean the opposite of each other.  The usual purpose behind a debate is caused by two or more people that have different usually opposing ideas that they not only feel very strongly about but also think is the only correct way to think.  We see this in our government on a pretty consistent basis these days.  Contradictions are not usually our favorite thing to discuss at a party, and yet the Bible has some contradictions that when looked at on the surface make no sense but when put into practice make perfect sense.

 

Here are a few:

  1. Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

How can we find our life if we lose it?  Usually when I lose something, like a sock in the wash, it is lost.  We do not try to lose things on purpose so that we can then find them.  What was Jesus’ original intent when He spoke these words?  If we deny Christ in hopes of saving our lives, we lose the hope of eternal life.  When we surrender our lives to Christ, we gain the hope of eternal life.  Living a life surrendered to the will of God the Father will find the true purpose and the true meaning of life.  True purpose in life is not found in doing my will, but rather surrendering my will to the Father and doing His will.  Yes, a contradiction.

  1. Proverbs 11:24 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want.”

This one is certainly an enigma.  When we give we grow richer and when we withhold we are in want.  So many in our culture strive to have the best house, the best car, the best clothes…Three generations from now or even at our funerals will our house and our car be the things that are remembered?  Rather, when we attend funerals no one usually talks about another’s possessions but their character.  When we are generous with our love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…we grow richer.  When we are stingy with our kindness being so focused on meeting our own needs, we suffer.  It seems when I notice the needs of another and freely give of my time and talents, my heart grows richer.  When I fail to notice the needs of others and am so focused on my own needs, I feel even needier.  Loving those that do not deserve it or encouraging those that may not reciprocate fills my heart with more joy than keeping that love for myself.  Notice the pain in someone’s eyes and love them.  Notice the loneliness in someone’s life and be their friend.  We should be giving so freely that when it seems the cup is empty, God has refilled it with more than we had to start with.

  1. Proverbs 11:25 “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched and one who waters will himself be watered.”
  2. Acts 20:35 “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

What is the conclusion of the whole matter?  Live a life of contradiction.  Give when it seems there is nothing left to give, and God will reward you.  “Moreover, it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2).  Will we be found as a faithful giver or a faithful withholder?  God has so richly given to us, should we not follow His example and be faithful givers.  Generosity (giving freely) is not always money.  We all have an endless supply of love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, encouragement, friendship, hospitality, joy, peace…why not give it all away.  Live a life of contradiction.  Jesus did!

Compassion

compassion cropped

 

No one wanted to touch him.  He was bleeding on the side of the road, moaning in pain.  A victim of a band of thieves left to die in the blistering sun.  No companion along on the journey to help fight off the thieves or help bind up his wounds.  People saw him, they walked by him on the other side of the road, his own countrymen to be exact.  His own countrymen that were supposed to be of the religious elite.  They spoke about obeying the law, but their lives were a different story.  So they passed on with a sideways glance and a desire to keep themselves clean.  The situation seemed rather hopeless for this poor injured man left to die on the side of the road, until a foreigner approached.  “…When he saw him, he had compassion.”  (Luke 10:33).  This foreigner knelt down and tended the wounds and placed him on his donkey and took him to an inn to be cared for, paying completely and generously for the injured man’s stay.  Jesus tells us “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37).

 

Have you had the opportunity to do likewise?  I have cried with friends and they have cried with me.  This is the feeling of compassion.  The “sympathetic pity and concern for the misfortunes and sufferings of others accompanied by a desire to alleviate the suffering.” (Dictionry.com). But have you gone out of your way to such an extent as this Good Samaritan did? Let me tell you my story.

 

One early morning, I was coming home from the grocery store.  (If you go at 6 a.m. you do not have to deal with all the crowds and this task gets accomplished much more quickly).  I had just made a left turn when the car in front of me ran off the road and plowed into a tree.  I stopped my car, called 911, and got out to make sure this woman was okay.  She was able to get out of her car too and assured me she was okay.  She began to tell me her story. She had recently gotten married and moved to the area and did not know anyone and her husband was at work and she was afraid to tell him about the accident.  She was very distraught. I had a car full of groceries that needed to be taken care of, so I told her I would go home and put away my groceries and come back to help her.  By the time I returned the tow truck had arrived so I waited with her while they loaded her car.  I took her home…which was 30 minutes away.  She was still so upset even as we drove home about making sure she got to her next job so I assured her I would drive her to her next job.  She wanted to go home and get changed quickly for that job.  So I sat in her kitchen… and waited… and waited…and waited.  I am not the most patient person and I did have my own job that I needed to get to. She decided she needed a shower, not just a quick change of her clothes.  On the way to her job (another 30 minutes away), she wanted to stop for coffee.  So we stopped…she didn’t even offer to buy me one.   By the time I got her to work, my entire morning was gone and I still needed get to my own job.  I struggled with my attitude and her ungrateful and “take advantage” attitude.  I had compassion at the beginning of the journey, but it soon turned to impatience and frustration the more ungrateful and self-centered she became.

 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, God does not say anything about the receiver of our compassion.  He only says we are to go and do likewise.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:40 “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” I was reminded of this throughout my journey with this women, yet I was shocked by her attitude of entitlement. Obviously, God still has some work to do in my heart.  At Christmas, it is easy to be compassionate and givers of good gifts.  Tis the season, but we must remember that if it were not for the compassion of our Savior there would be no reason to celebrate this season.  How many times am I ungrateful to my Savior for what He has done for me, the self-sacrificing compassion He had for me?  May you have a Merry Christmas!