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!

Gave

Gave.  It starts out so simple, so innocent.  A moment of pleasure, a minute of self-indulgence, or a look of self-satisfaction.  It only takes a minute to start down this path that the woman in the garden was on.  My youth leader’s wife used to tell me, “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips.”  A cute saying that does bear truth in the lives of those who are watching their waistline.  This simple truth; however, shows how quickly something innocent can impact our lives and the cascade effect it has.

Gave. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6).  Do you notice the verbs that I highlighted in this text?  It started with her eyes and moved quickly to her desires.  She wanted to be wise, yet I wonder what made her think she was not wise?  Again, I need to remind us that this woman was in the perfect environment with everything she needed, and yet somehow she thought she needed more wisdom.  In her mind this one piece of fruit was going to make her wise.  No other fruit in the garden that she had eaten before had made her wise, at least that is what she thought.  One piece of fruit held the keys to her future happiness and wisdom.

Gave.  Once she made the decision, she wanted to share her good fortune.  Only poor decisions do not promote positive effects in the lives of those around us.  We only think about the benefits in our lives not the harmful effect it will have in anyone else’s life.  There are so many examples in our everyday lives of this cascading effect of poor choices, sin.  Take the legalization of marijuana.  No one thought about the effect of marijuana laced cookies and brownies on people’s pets or children that were accidentally consumed.  They only thought about their own enjoyment from a marijuana laced brownie.

Gave.  What is it that will make you happy?  Is it a new job, a different spouse, different friends, bigger house, nicer car, etc?  Yet, in the quest to acquire what we think we need, what effect will it have on those around us?  Will someone else have to suffer because of the choices we make?  The woman gave the man the piece of fruit after she went through a selfish process of desire.  He suffered the consequences of the woman’s disobedience and desires along with her.  How many children suffer because of their parents’ alcoholism, anger, drug abuse, greed, etc?  Why?  They are trying to satisfy their own selfish desires, but the children pay the price.  Don’t give away your poor choices, rather give away selflessness, kindness, gentleness, patience, and self-control.   When you wake up the next morning you won’t regret your decision.