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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Proverbs 11:25 “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched and one who waters will himself be watered.”
- 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!