Pink roses in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for

I get tired of taking things sitting down, you know? There are some days when I want to stand up and fight. I want to argue. I want to lash out at all these people who have taken the important things in life and dragged them through the mud. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed it’s that people don’t usually respond well to strong opinions, especially if they don’t agree with you anyway.

In any situation, a loud answer rarely satisfies the question and usually only draws more loud opinions. And it just gets worse and worse until someone backs down.

Don’t misunderstand. There are some things definitely worth fighting for, but how are we supposed to fight?

Pink roses in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Pink roses in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:5.

God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.

So what does humility have to do with fighting, you may ask? Well for that answer, we need to check the Amplified Version. It will clear this up a bit:

Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!

In the Amplified Version, the word is actually meek rather than humble. And while humility and fighting are somewhat related, meekness and fighting go hand in hand–or at least they should for a Christ-follower.

Meekness is another form humility can take. Meekness has best been described as quiet strength. It’s confidence and surety so certain that you don’t need to bluster or brag. Jesus was meek. He had every right to show off and demonstrate His power and knowledge, but He didn’t. In fact, the only time He even showed any form of aggression was chasing the money changers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-17).

Some people portray meekness as weakness. We have this idea that meekness means we need to be pansies, and that’s the opposite of it. Meekness is strength used at the appropriate time. It’s speaking softly and carrying a big stick, to quote Teddy Roosevelt.

If you’re the kind of person who goes off at the drop of a hat, I’m sorry to say that’s not meekness. If you’re the kind of person who gets angry and confrontational about everything, that’s not meekness either. If you’re defensive, if you’re demanding, if you’re difficult–there’s no meekness there. And while the world may consider you a strong person who’s going somewhere, God’s opinion is the opposite.

Meekness matters to God. And according to this verse, it’s not the loud confrontational fighters who are going to be successful in the end. It’s the quiet ones in the back. It’s the soft-spoken ones.

Granted, it’s the soft-spoken people who know where they stand and never compromise. But you don’t have to be a loud-mouthed bully to communicate that. People will know who you are and what you stand for well enough by how you live, by how you treat others, by the choices you make.

Our world reveres people who say what they want to say, no matter how it affects other people. Why do you think “reality” TV is so popular? Our culture idolizes conflict. We set people who tear each other down on pedestals. And the louder you can be about your radical opinions, the more attention you’ll get.

But that’s not how we’re supposed to live. And if you talk to anyone–really talk to them–there is something deep inside them that recognizes the bravado and bluster for what it is: a show. And the moment they really need someone to depend on, they aren’t going to go for the loud-mouthed show offs. They’re going to turn to the rock-solid quiet person who has always been there for them.

Maybe you don’t think that being quiet makes a difference to people, but you’re wrong. Meekness shouts louder than shouting any day, and if you truly focus on maintaining a lifestyle of quiet strength, people will notice. It’s often the things you don’t say that make the most difference. People aren’t stupid. They pick up on more than you realize.

So what does this mean for us today? My life is so busy. And sometimes I feel like I have to shout over the noise in order to be heard. I feel like I have to step up my game and push people out of the way to accomplish the things I want. But that’s not the way I’m supposed to live.

I’m supposed to be meek–to live a life of quiet strength. I’m supposed to be patient. I’m supposed to wait and trust God and if He really has put me where He wants me, He will orchestrate events in His time.

So if you feel the urge to push people around today, even if it’s from a heart with pure intentions, don’t do it. Wait patiently and see what happens. I know it’s a scary thought because the world tells us we’ll be run over if we stand still, and maybe you will. But when has doing what the world says ever been a good idea?

Be quiet today. Not weak. But quiet. Just because you have the strength to do something doesn’t mean you’re supposed to do it.

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Love God, love people

What matters to God? When we look at our life and our choices, what matters most to Him? What does He want from us? Because He’s not just some distant figurehead floating in the sky somewhere who knows everything that’s going on and doesn’t care. He’s present and involved in our lives at the most basic level. He cares about what happens to us. He cares about the choices we make. He wants to be a part of our lives.

I’m so distracted by all the busyness of life that I need to remind myself of what really matters. And when I think about what really matters I think instantly about the rules. I’m a performance-driven perfectionist, so I actually like rules. I’m not a big fan of breaking them either. So even though I know that the rules don’t make me righteous (only Christ can do that), I still want to follow them because if God hadn’t given them they wouldn’t be important.

But while I don’t know all there is to know about the Bible, I do understand that there are a lot of rules. There’s a ridiculous number of commandments, not just the ten we’re familiar with from the Charlton Heston movie. And I love the commandments. I love God’s laws. But that’s a lot of rules to keep track of, and it would be really great if there were a summary somewhere.

Cue Christ, the storyteller. One of the marks of the greatest storytellers is to be able to cut to the heart of the matter and tell you what the point of the story is, and Jesus was great at that.

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Matthew 22:36-40.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Love God. Love people. That’s a summary of the Law.

Want to know what matters to God? Love Him first. Then, love people around you.

Want to know how to live? Love God. Love people.

Want to know how to make decisions? Love God. Love people.

Don’t know how to handle a situation at work? Or at home? Or at church? Or at school? Love God. Love people.

It’s basic, but it’s real. And it’s true. If you love God and love people, the decisions you make and the choices you make will begin to change your focus. Actually, your focus will change. When you’re serious about loving God and loving people, your entire outlook on life will change.

God wants us to love Him. But not just love like a passing fancy. He wants to be the most important relationship in your life. And that can be difficult sometimes because it’s hard to relate to someone you can’t see. At least, we can’t see Him like we see each other. But there are other ways to know Who God is and where He is and what He thinks. And most of the time, I don’t find it hard to love Him. I mean, He’s God. And personally, He’s everything to me. But then, I don’t have a spouse. Or children. So I can’t speak to the difficulty of balancing those aspects of life with my relationship with God.

And then there are the days when He doesn’t do what I want Him to do. But even then, I don’t stop loving Him. But I can tell you that many times He’s not the priority in my head. I want Him to be, but my attention wanders.

But the one I really struggle with is Most Important Command Number Two: Love People.

People make me mad. They frustrate me to no end, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed this bad habit of speaking my mind. And my mind isn’t always a good thing to let loose on the public. It’s got some snark and sarcasm in there that can be hurtful if not tamed, and though I hate to admit this, as someone who loves words, I know just how to use them to manipulate. So for me it’s a constant battle of knowing when to open my mouth and when to seal it shut because I don’t want something I say to be damaging.

God loves people. He loves me. And I’m a person. He loves the world, and the world is full of people. The trouble with people is that they usually only think about themselves. And I’m lumping myself into that people category too. But what this commandment tells us to do is to go against what is natural to us; we are commanded to love each other rather than ourselves. That’s not normal. And that’s dang difficult. But that’s what matters to God. Love Him. Love people.

Does He deserve it? Absolutely.

Do they deserve it? Absolutely not. But because He loves them and He loves us, we need to do it anyway.

Granted, I’m not saying love people at the expense of your health or your sanity, but at the very least, change your mind about them. People are people. They do stupid things. Guess what? So do you.

Everybody needs grace.

So today, make your choices and decisions remembering that the most important commandments are to love God and love people. If you can live by that, I’m willing to be you’ll see a difference not only in your relationships but in yourself as well.