“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.” (Proverbs 16:2)
All that I do is right—screech!—nope, definitely not, but sometimes I act like it. It's the thought that counts, but my inner thoughts are not always right. When I say “my drawing is terrible,” do I really mean that or am I saying that just to get praise? Sometimes I don't know why I do the things I do, say what I say, or think what I think, but God does. He knows facts about me I don't even know. My motives may be hidden to my own heart, but not to His eyes.
We think our way is the only way and that's when it's time to stop and think about what we're doing. We should assess all our actions, words, and feelings. Are our works really diamonds or fool’s gold? I need to put my motives under a microscope to determine the purity of my actions. More often than not, I usually have to dump my motives into the trash and start new. But “To confess you were wrong yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser today; and instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to your judgement, and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of the truth. Do not be ashamed to learn, and to cast aside your old doctrines and views, but take up that which you may more plainly see to be in the word of God.” *
*C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume Two (Hendrickson Publishers, 2016), 67.
Network, network, network is all I hear about when trying to build my platform. But this can be rather exhausting, especially for someone who scores 90% on introvertedness. This means going to conferences and talking to people is out of the question. Web networking is much better, though I still have a slight aversion to it. I want people to read my blog and buy my books (future books, that is), but I’m told I must have a platform first. For someone as short as I am (pun intended), it's hard to build a platform big enough for people to see me. I'd be willing to slave for hours painting, drawing, and writing if I could construct a platform that way, but one mention of people and my vigor flails. You might as well be asking me to build the wall of China with popsicle sticks.
I don't like promoting myself, but I want to promote my stuff, and when I promote my stuff, I feel like I'm promoting myself and I begin to feel like a walking paradox. I don't want to be one of those people who visits blogs and comments, “That post is beautiful. Come see my blog.” I find it irritating when other people do that. When I comment, I want to mean it and not just compliment them to bribe them into reading my blog. I want them to know I'm there without waving a fifty-foot red flag, because, you know, I'm liable to get stampeded by bulls. Nor do I want to be one of those people who follows others just so they'll follow them back.
Networking is also slightly nerve-wracking. I remember the day that I opened my Instagram account. I posted some old paintings and likes were striking my posts faster than lightning. I was a mixture of happy and freaking out because how were these people finding me? I hadn't even followed anybody yet! Then people started following me and I hoped they weren't some stalker who planned to bomb my house. Yes, I'm an INFJ, which includes overthinking, overreacting, and over-everything else. I worry about what I post on my blog. Maybe I sounded weird. Maybe I used improper grammar. Maybe I'm not posting enough or perhaps I'm posting too much. Maybe I should post more about myself. Maybe I accidentally offended someone when I wrote that I disliked the taste of watermelon…
I still worry more than I should but God has shown me that networking isn't everything. He can make my readership grow aside from everything I try to do. I don't intend to abandon the construction of my platform, but trust His guidance to show me how to build it. The project may require moving out of my comfort zone, but that doesn't mean I'm going to jump in a lake because a certain platforming book told me so (besides, I can't swim so the step would be fatal). I'll do what works for me, remembering that there are more important things in life than having a large readership.
“But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them; and often He restrained His anger and did not arouse all His wrath.” (Psalms 78:38)
I don't always realize how terrible my sin is and some of my sins I'm not even aware of. Anger is harder to repress than a hungry shark, yet God restrains His anger everyday. Although a mother is patient with her children's temper tantrums, she might not be with someone else's. However, God is patient even with those who are not His own. Why did He wait so long before flooding the earth? Why did He not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah sooner? Because God’s patience is stronger than men's provocations. Although all of us deserve hell, He graciously gives each of us a little bit of heaven while we are on earth.
God's patience is a thousand times longer than man’s, but even God has His limit. A day will come when His wrath will be aroused. So while we live in the days of His patience, let us seek His favor. He who seeks His face in the day of peace will procure His lovingkindness for a lifetime.
"Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?" (Isaiah 2:22)
The world's most profound wisdom can be utterly shallow. And the world's opinions are usually so small you can't even see them with a microscope. But God's simplest wisdom is deeper than the longest tunnel and His opinions are bigger than the universe. Man's wisdom will not likely last past his lifetime, maybe not even that. God says their knowledge “ ‘shall be seen to be folly, ere another hundred years have rolled away.’ And so the mighty thoughts of Socrates, and the wisdom of Solon, are utterly forgotten now; and could we hear them speak, the veriest child in our schools would laugh to think that he understandeth more of philosophy than they.” *
In light of the shortness of man's wisdom, why are we still regarding it? Surely the Creator knows more about His inventions than the inventions themselves. As if the wires in the oven would know more about the oven than the electrician.
Not all human wisdom belongs in the trash; sometimes God sends His wisdom through us. He allows us to study His creation and get a glimpse of its complexity. We should never regard human knowledge as limitless and perfect, remembering today's latest discoveries may prove to be a sham tomorrow.
*C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume One (Hendrickson Publishers, 2016), 8.
“No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever—that he should live on eternally, that he should not undergo decay.” (Psalms 49:7-9)
Seeing a friend, relative, father, mother, daughter, or son head to the gates of death, is one of the worst agonies a Christian can suffer. Physical death at times can seem worse, but in reality spiritual death should provoke our tears more. At least when a Christian dies, we have hope that they are in eternal bliss (assuming their faith was genuine), but when an unbeliever dies, they have no hope. Once they're gone, they're gone forever and there is nothing we can do for them.
We pray, hope, and speak all we can to our unsaved loved ones. They plug their ears to our pleas, thinking we are exaggerating about their spiritual condition. We try, but nothing we do saves them. What are we doing wrong? We are trusting in our ability to save them when only God can do that. The most eloquent witness, the most passionate prayer, the greatest sacrifice cannot save our friend’s soul. Another's salvation is something we can never accomplish.
However, this does not mean we should stop spreading the Word, halt our prayers, or abandon good deeds. We are the tools the Doctor uses to perform an operation on the patient and save them through us.
"A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." (Proverbs 29:1)
Scientists claim man descended from apes, but if humans descended from any mammal, I think it would be a mule. We balk, we bite, and we don't listen to reason. Stubbornness isn't exactly bad and neither is a frying pan, unless it happens to land on your foot. Apply stubbornness to the wrong thing and you're liable to wish that frying pan had broken your toe instead. The whole human problem starts with stubbornness—refusing to repent, hanging on to sin, and holding on to our own self-righteousness.
The worst kind of stubbornness is that which won't bend. "When troubles come it is of no use to fly in the face of God by hard thoughts of providence: that is kicking against the pricks and hurting your feet. The trees bow in the wind, and so must we. Every time the sheep bleats it loses a mouthful, and every time we complain, we miss a blessing."* Criticisms, rebukes, and corrections may sting our ears but they help the inflammation go down on pride. However, we shouldn't take everything people say seriously or we'd live our lives in tears. Rather, we should sift people's remarks through our conscience.
But if God reproved you, beware. His words are always true; they may be hurtful but they are not harmful unless you make them so. God's discipline is an expression of His love, so if you reject His reproof you are rejecting His love. He who ignores the danger signs and places his hand on the high-voltage box is likely to get fried.
*C.H. Spurgeon, The Complete John Ploughman: Combined Edition of John Ploughman's Talk and John Ploughman's Pictures (Christian Focus Publications, 2007), 41.
Mariposa is a self-taught artist who captures the glories of God's creation on canvas. She has a Ph.D. in creativity and a masters degree in imagination.
Aberdeen is a book-eating, ink-drinking dinosaur from the createtus period. When he isn't falling into plot holes or taking cover from the volcano of ideas, he's hanging out with Dee-Dee the doodledactyl. Read full bio