As Christians we make a lot of trades. We trade in the old man for the new man! We trade death for life. We trade our way of doing things for His way of doing things. This week the Lord impressed upon me, once again, the continual need to trade the way I think and speak about others.
My life is often times rather insulated. I live in the mountains or foothills with my husband and now that I am not working my world has become a bit smaller. Most of my external conversations are very intentional and my interactions specific. I go to a home group and to church and have short meaningful interactions in person and mentor and coach over the phone. During the weeks I am home each month it is frankly rather easy to be an encourager, to stay positive and to measure my words with care.
However, when I am traveling and interacting and living with many people I realized I easily fall into dangerous territory. It is so easy to judge. Oh, it might be cleverly disguised in “need for prayer” or sharing similar concerns with a friend but I know that it is actually a judgement, however subtle. This last week I saw that happening and the Holy Spirit did not “nudge” me, he shoved me! When I regained my balance I realized how quickly this could happen and how just as quickly it could be turned around. Every time I had a negative thought about someone or a subtle judgement of their words or behaviors rather than share my observation or even dwell on it privately I could turn it into a declaration and prayer for them!
When I began to do this I noticed a couple of things. One, my attitude changed dramatically. Instead of concern over others I was now excited to believe for the change that would be coming and that I was playing a positive part in that I also watched as the atmosphere changed. When conversation arose around concern for another and my response was declaring victory for them the conversation took on a very new dimension. I also realized I had taken on a place of intercession for them. If I was declaring victory in areas yet to be realized I suddenly knew that I needed to stay in a place of placing them before the Father to insure His work was done and completed in their lives. In this trading process both my thoughts and words were being transformed and it was resulting in a much more positive outlook on everything! I was actually starting to see everyone differently! They became beautiful works in progress!
Paul says this so simply:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17(AMP)
16 Be happy and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually;
17 Be unceasing in prayer;
When we look at others as works in progress and desire to be part of their growth and development it simply keeps us in a happy place. As we rejoice over them and what God is doing and will do in their lives it promotes a glad heart within us. As we do this and realize our responsibility in their lives we naturally become unceasing in prayer. Having spent the last few months with my kids and grandchildren and family and friends I found myself praying for many of them throughout my days and nights these past weeks. It has filled me with expectation. Like waiting for Christmas to see what God is going to do in and for each one of them.
All this with just a simple trade. Trading thoughts. Not as the world thinks but as God would have us think.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
1 Thessalonians 5:11Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.
Trading critical thinking for love:
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Lets do as Peter teaches us and enjoy a glad and merry heart, one filled with expectation that our declarations and prayers for each other will change us, each other and the atmosphere!