Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

The Heart of Your Child

It is vital that you train the heart of your children. However it is popular to ignore this essential process and give in to shallow alternatives. Since many young parents have not thought these issues through I am penning these notes as a guide to parents.

The Heart of the Matter

The most important part of your child’s development is the training of their heart. While we may not be aware of what is going on inside other people, including our children, the Bible tells us that God looks on the heart.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

God’s prophet, Samuel, did what people naturally do. He looked on external things. God accurately accused men of taking notice of external things – “man looks on the outward appearance”. That is why people have to take ‘first impressions’ seriously and why image is such a big deal for worldly people. It should not be so for those who love and follow God, but sadly appearance and image is a major focus of some churches today.

Since God looks on your child’s heart it is essential that you make it a key focus on your attention.

The Heart of Your Child is Exposed by What Comes Out

Jesus had much to say about what comes out of the heart. He said that we are defiled by what comes out of us. He then listed a bunch of things that find their source in the human heart.

“The words which come out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” Jesus Christ, Matthew 15:18-19

Jesus is pointing here to both the words people speak and the motivations that lead them to do evil things. So wise parents will be attentive to the spontaneous expressions from their children and also from the behaviour patterns the children display.

A winning smile on the face of a child can be deceptive. Sweet words of promise and nicety may be a cover for wrong intentions. In the same way that adults can be expert at this level of deception, some children know how to play up to their parents’ expectations.

Key Lessons For the Heart

The heart is troubled by the presence of foolishness, which Solomon warns us is bound in the heart of every child (Proverbs 22:15). So it is important for each parent to respect the particular process that God prescribes for removing that foolishness. The prescribed process is to use the rod of correction on the child.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Solomon, Proverbs 22:15

Obedience is a key test of the child’s heart. If a child refuses to obey then they have foolishness. So getting the child to promptly obey the parent is a key heart training process. This involves them submitting to the parent’s authority. In that process they learn to fear the Lord, giving respect to God’s requirement that they obey their parents.

Games and Tricks Don’t Train the Heart

Some parents think that they are doing quite well if they get the desired action from the child. But it is not the action that is the most important. What is important, as we saw earlier, is the heart of the child. God does not look on the outward evidence but on the heart.

If you instruct a child to eat their food and the child is reluctant to obey, then a matter of the heart has been exposed. The child’s rebellious or independent attitude is a more serious matter than the nutritional value of the meal.

Many parents, however, become distracted with the external element, getting the food into the child. They can completely miss the much more serious issue of the child’s heart. Clever parents can resort to games to get the child to eat. “Let’s pretend that the spoon is a train and your mouth is a tunnel. Let the train into the tunnel.”

Such games may be fun, but they set the parent and child up for future pain. The child’s heart is left in a rebellious state, even though all the food is eaten.

The same is true when a parent tricks a child into doing the right thing, or fitting in with the parent’s plans. Games and fun, cute as they may be in the hands of clever parents, have no place in testing or training the child’s heart.

The most mature and complete heart training is evident when there is every reason to disobey or to get away with doing wrong, and yet the person insists and persists in doing what is right.

Tough Choices Make for Strong Character

When parents rescue their children from tough choices they undermine the child’s character. Tough choices make for strong character.

The child who must stand by his post, while others get to do fun things, or taunt him, or who is otherwise suffering in order to be there, will develop much stronger character than the child who is given every opportunity to cheat on their character.

False compassion can prompt some parents to remove the tough choices and hard situations from their child’s life. Such emotion is called ‘false’ compassion because it is not true love at all. It masquerades as compassion but it harms the child, so it cannot be real love.

You are Allowed to Play Games

Please note that I am not saying every moment of your child’s life should be a tough moment with tough choices. There is plenty of room for fun, games and play. You are welcome to play ‘aeroplanes’ and fly the food into your child’s mouth or to make cleaning up the room into a fun race against the clock.

The tough choices are made at strategic moments and are then built upon. But once the tough moment is past it is time for celebration and enjoyment of life. The problem will come when your child is never challenged to learn and their heart is not trained.

Insist that they Learn

Parents, be diligent to ensure that each of your children has learned to obey you, to submit to authority and to fear God. You will need to remain attentive to their heart, through what they say and how that is backed up by the attitudes and actions.

Insist that they learn the lessons. Don’t give in, just because they are crying, or complaining. There is much more at stake than their temporary responses.

Today

Having recently written about ‘Yesterday’ my thoughts jogged along to ‘Today’ and I thought I would try to wax poetic about this thing we call today. I don’t think I’m going to win an award for what is contained here, but I’m sharing it as a way of recording my jottings.

I woke and it was today. Wow! How fast it came.
Only yesterday this day was far away.
And I don’t think I’m ready yet for today.
Could I have a few more days to prepare?
I think I was distracted and didn’t realise how time was passing.

Can we just put it off one more day?
Oh.
So, it’s today.
And I’m ill prepared.
Hmmm.

Well I guess I can have a shot at it, but it won’t be very good.
I should have prepared.
I was going to study and do some reading.
And I thought I’d understand more by now.
But I guess that’s not how it works.

Just give me a minute to see if I can find something to help.
Where are those notes I scribbled long ago?
I can’t find them.
And I don’t remember what they said.
Are you sure we can’t do this tomorrow instead?

Cruel is the fate that catches us off-guard.
Unrelenting time has made this moment hard.
How dare it treat me so?
It seemed to go so slow.
But now I’m caught in moments locked and barred.

Today is oh so cruel to catch me unprepared.
It makes me feel the fool and not a little scared.
It leaves me out of step
With hardly time to prep.
It shows me up as one who hasn’t cared.

Others I can see have met this day full force.
Just how can it be that they have kept that course?
How did they do so well?
I wish that I could tell.
For as for me I’m like a limping horse.

While others dash ahead and run about quite free
My feet are made of lead and stumble under me.
Today has bogged me down
And made me look the clown
While others as I’ve said, get the jump on me.

Tomorrow’s on its way and so I make my choice
To pick a course and stay on track with mind and voice.
So when tomorrow comes
I’ll beat the welcome drums
And have it on a tray as I rejoice.

Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

The Tyranny of Time

I have had the privilege of learning about time management from some well respected exponents on the subject. Yet my own time management has never been exemplary. Consciousness of time and tasks can become burdensome reality to many. So time management is a pretty important issue in our lives, especially for those who wish to be high achievers and who need to squeeze all they can out of their available time.

A Time Management Question

Here’s a time management question for you, to help you reflect on some of the philosophical issues of harnessing available time.

“There is never enough time to get everything done, so what are you going to do?”

Now, before you launch off with off-the-cuff answers, let me refine the question a little for you. Let’s image a scenario in which to address this question. Let’s imagine a situation where a person does not have a boss. Maybe they are running their own business, or just managing their life without having to be told what to do, such as a salesman might do.

The point of removing the boss is to have a situation where the person must make their own decisions about time management. If a person is overloaded with work given them by a boss they can always revert to the boss and let the boss solve the problem. I am creating a scenario that does not have that option.

The Scenario

So, we are considering a person trying to achieve various things, but with never enough time to get everything done. Let’s assume that by the end of each day there is at least one more task on the list than there had at the beginning of the day. This just goes on each day, ad infinitum. There is just not enough time to get everything done.

Now, if you were in that situation what would you do?

The Options

One possibility is that you could kill yourself trying to catch up. Since there is never enough time to get everything done (as is my starting premise), there is the option of becoming totally buried and burdened by the tasks. You could, for instance, just spend every waking moment chasing the list of things to do, pushing through them like a galley slave rowing across the ocean.

Some people chose this option. They become a pawn to their workload, ever struggling upstream against it. The work eats up their life and their time and their energy and just about everything else.

Is that how you face your workload?

Alternatively you could just give up. You could realise that the task is undo-able and just not bother trying to do it. “Why bother?” No matter how hard you try you can’t tame the demands, so you will have to leave many things undone. If you have to leave anything undone, then why should you have to do anything at all? Why not leave it ALL undone?

Some people lean toward this option. These are the minimalists. They do as little as they can get away with, because they have lost all heart for the tasks. They feel defeated by the challenge and just can’t face pressing on at all.

Two Extremes

Those two extreme positions stand in contrast to each other. Yet they summarise the limits of our choices. Your approach to the things you have to accomplish will be somewhere between complete slavery to the tasks and complete abandonment.

Some of you are workaholics, completely enslaved to the “To Do” lists in your life. For some that is the secret to their success. For others it is the treadmill that will consume their lives.

Others are work-refusers. They avoid tasks like they avoid leprosy. What they have to do they do as quickly and casually as they can. If they can get out of a task they will go out of their way to do it.

Time is Not the Issue

In either of the extremes which I have drawn out of the simple scenario the issue is not a matter of time-management. The issue is that of heart attitude. It is a character issue.

We are not measured by what we achieve or how clever we are at managing the time allotted to us. We are measured by the “who” that we become along the way.

If you become a slave and elevate tasks above the rest of your life, then that is the “who” that you have become. If you become slack and defeated, then that is the “who” that you have become.

The first issue, then, is not how to do more work, or how to get more things done. It is not a matter of priorities, routine, best practice or time and motion studies. The issue is “Who are you?”

What kind of person are you? Do you know diligence? Do you have a faithful spirit? Do you make wise choices? Are you compulsive? Do you let work or other people’s demands rule your life? Have you given up on things? Just how much have you given up on?

Become a Better You

As you become a better you, by developing godly character, doing things as if for God and not for yourself, you will be better able to manage the issues of your life.

Your workload is an issue of your life. It is not your life. Your time is an issue of your life. It is not your life.

Your character IS your life. WHO you are is what your life is all about. You will face eternal consequences for who you are, not for the way you managed time or processed work.

My advice? Become a better you. Call on God’s grace to transform you and your attitudes and character, until the tasks and choices that confront you are met by someone with godly wisdom and divine grace.