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Archive | God’s Word for Today

10 Characteristics of a Blameless Life

Imagine entering heaven and approaching God’s throne. Picture yourself as you kneel at His feet and bask in the joy of His presence. All the struggles of life fade away as you praise Him who sits on the throne.

blamelessDo you long to enter God’s holy presence and joyfully worship at His feet? According to Psalm 15:2, those whose “walk is blameless” may dwell in God’s sanctuary and live on His holy hill. I long to enter God’s presence, but I’m not sure I would describe myself as “blameless.” Would you?

What does it mean to be blameless?

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the Hebrew word translated as “blameless” in Psalm 15:2 describes a person with “nothing in his outward activities or internal disposition that is odious to God.”

Good definition, but that’s too general for me to get my mind around. I need some specifics about what a “blameless” life looks like. Thankfully, the Bible tells us. Psalm 15 and 102 describe a blameless life (Read them now if you have time. They are not long.) The following list of characteristics is derived from these two psalms of David.

10 Characteristics of a Blameless Person

  1. She practices praise – Regularly contemplate the holy nature of God. Recognizing His worthiness will not only foster praise, we will also be moved to obedience.
  2. She lives with integrity at home – Sometimes we fail to purposefully watch our words and actions at home like we do other places. We tend to let our guard down; to allow our first, sinful instincts to rule. We need to be as careful at home as we are away from home.
  3. She turns away from everything vile or vulgar – “Blameless” woman do not compromise with the sinful ways of the world. We don’t allow ourselves to become desensitized to immorality, crudeness, or risqué humor by watching it, reading it, or listening to it. For a sad example, read this post “Holiness is not a Shade of Grey.”
  4. She ruthlessly guards against evil thoughts and behavior – We must proactively rid our lives of every thought and action contrary to the nature and character of God.
  5. She does not use her words to tear down others – Our speech should be edifying and encouraging. That doesn’t mean everything we need to say will be easy. But it does mean it will be helpful to the hearer.
  6. She does not collaborate with ungodly, wicked people – The only way to never encounter ungodly people is to leave this life and transfer to heaven. However, we can choose not to enter into agreements, projects, or business dealings with people whose worldview is not Christ-centered.
  7. She embraces honesty – Satan is the father of lies. Anytime we are less than honest we have yielded to the tempter! Let’s commit to total honesty in our own lives and conduct. We should also expect honesty from the people around us and distance ourselves from those who refuse to be honest.
  8. She does not seek gain that brings harm to others – God wants us to use our God-given skills, talents, and gifts to support the Kingdom, serve others, and provide for ourselves and our families. However, any effort for gain or advancement that takes advantage of others is sinful.
  9. She squashes pride and conceit – Pride fosters an abundance of sin. Those who want to live blameless before God will seek humility by keeping both God and ourselves in proper perspective.
  10. She helps, encourages, and protects the godly – God calls us to serve others and meet the needs of those who cannot help themselves. Do we respond when they cross our paths?

This may not be a complete list of “blameless” characteristics, but it’s a start. Let’s keep searching God’s Word, applying what He shows us, and enjoying His holy presence!

Which of these 10 characteristics do you struggle with the most? Why is that, do you think?

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5 Things I Wish Christians Would Stop Saying

Just because we hear something – or say something – over and over again doesn’t mean it’s true. For instance, when my grandson Micah was 3-years-old, he referred to Hulu as “WeeHoo.” Whenever my daughter carefully pronounced it correctly for him, he would say “No, Mom. It’s ‘WeeHoo.'” Yes, the illiterate toddler thought he knew better than the grownup.

As silly as that sounds, we sometimes do that with God and His Word. We have allowed things out of line with Scripture to become so embedded in our brains, we now accept them as fact. Or we take a truth out of context and misapply it. And unfortunately, we repeat these things to others.

Although not an exhaustive list, the following examples are ones I hear over and over.

  1. “We are all God’s children” – All people are definitely God’s “creatures,” created by God and for God. But only those who have been spiritually born again through a saving relationship with Jesus are God’s “children” (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:4-7). (This post explores what the Bible says about this topic.) At its best, this phrase is incorrect. At its worst, it gives people without a saving relationship with Jesus, a false sense of eternal security.
  2. “Judge not” – We too often quote these words of Jesus as an excuse to ignore sin in others’ lives or as a reason for others to leave us to our own detrimental behavior. The passages we whip out are Matthew 7:1 and James 4:12. Unfortunately, we regularly fail to consider the context of the greater passage and the whole counsel of God’s Word. Yes, both Jesus and James condemned a harsh, critical “judging” of people’s motives. This kind of “judging” is motivated by a self-righteous, hypocritical attitude. But in the whole of Scripture – including words of Jesus and James – God clearly commands Christians to lovingly point out sin and exhort each other to holiness. It is not our place to determine their motives, but it is our responsibility as a member of the body of Christ to gently identify behavior that God has already judged to be “sin.” The goal is to reconcile that person with others and with God and to keep the sin from spreading to others (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 5:19-20). For more about “judging” read this post.
  3. “God will never give us more than we can handle” – There is just one problem with saying this: It’s simply not what the Bible teaches. Many well-meaning people quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 to back up this understandable desire. But the context of this passage is about temptation. Here’s the good news: God does promise that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear; He will always show us a way to stand firm. So what does God teach about the amount of trials and difficulties He will allow into our lives? In a nutshell: He will allow far more than we can handle. Paul wrote that he had suffered extreme hardship in Asia, “far beyond his ability to endure so that he despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).  God allowed this so Paul and his companions “might not rely on themselves but on God.” For more on this topic, read this post.
  4. “God is love” – First, yes I believe that God is love! Scripture says it over and over (1 John 4:8-10). God defines real love. He is loving by nature. He expresses this divine love in all that He does. But unfortunately, some Christians try to stand on this truth – “God is love” – to rationalize sin or to dismiss hell.
  • “A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.”
  • “God loves me, He would want me to be happy.”

But our loving, holy God does not sweep sin under the rug. Instead His love moved Him to provide a way of salvation for all people by sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:11). And Christ’s love compels us to repent of our sins, accept His sacrificial death, and be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). God’s love provides a way of salvation, not a license to sin.

  1. “All sin is the same” – Most assuredly, any and all sin separates us from God and brings eternal spiritual death (Romans 6:23). In that way, all sin is the same. But Scripture does show that some kinds of sins cause far greater harm to ourselves and other people or bring far greater consequences than other sins. (For more on this see this article at BillyGraham.org.) Here are a few examples:
  • Sexual Immorality – Due to the intimate nature of sex, sexual immorality has unique consequences, such as tearing apart families and even directly impacting our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  • Pride – Scripture condemns the sin of pride over and over. In fact, the Bible says that God “opposes the proud” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Pride is an underlying attitude that manifests itself in a host of other “sinful” ways.
  • Hypocrisy – Jesus sternly warned the Pharisees about their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-36). This kind of self-righteousness blinds us to our own sin and our need for God. “Woe!”
  • Leading others into sin – Jesus’ language was harsh for those who would dare lead a “little one” into sin. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea. Sounds serious! (See Matthew 18:1-9.)

You may not agree with me on all these, and that’s okay. What I hope we will all do is go to God’s Word to find His truth. But, let’s not ever settle for a “truth” we’ve grown accustomed to.

Have you ever said any of these 5 things? How do you feel about it now? What are some other things you hear often from Christians that don’t line up with God’s Word? Be sure to share what God’s Word says about it!

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Diversity and Unity – God’s Heart for the Church

I saw a video yesterday that perfectly illustrates God’s design for the church – diversity within unity. This commercial for Android features two grand pianos. Both have 88 keys. One has the full range of notes. The other has 88 keys all tuned to middle C.

I’m going to admit it right up front. I heard the illustration in church yesterday. I did not come up with it, but I did ask the pastor if I could borrow his idea for today’s blog. Check out the short video now:

 

The music from the piano on the left sounds like the composer intended. Full, rich, a harmony of sound blending together into something greater than the sum of the individual notes.

The music from the piano on the right is monotone. Flat and lifeless.

God designed the church to be like the piano on the left. Eighty-eight keys each playing a different note, but working together in perfect harmony:

  • Each with a different gift (Romans 12:4).
  • Each given by God for a specific purpose (Romans 12:7).
  • All of us working together to serve the same Lord (Romans 12:5).
  • All working to build up the Church and share Jesus (Ephesians 4:12).

Different gifts, different tasks, but the same goal. One heart, one mind, one faith (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Together but not the same. Diverse, but unified.

Maybe if the Church plays loud enough the world will hear.

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5 Things to Do When You Feel Discouraged

When was the last time you felt discouraged? Maybe it’s today. Perhaps you face difficult circumstances or everything just seems to be going wrong. You don’t have to give in to discouragement.

The Apostle Paul had plenty of reason to be discouraged. Daily, he endured hardship, danger, pain, suffering, and uncertainty. More than once he looked death in the face. Yet he claimed to not only be content and at peace in any and every circumstance, Paul even rejoiced!

No matter the concern or difficult situation, Paul was at peace. Whether fed or hungry, he was content. Whether in need or in plenty, he was satisfied. In every event and every season, Paul chose to rejoice. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? What was Paul’s secret?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:4-13

Paul purposefully developed an active trust and confident dependence on Christ’s provision and power. Paul took every small need, big need, and in-between need to God in prayer. Peace filled Paul because he chose to trust that God would provide. He did not allow his mind to dwell on the “what ifs.”

Paul experienced contentment in every difficult circumstance or physical need by relying on the strengthening power of Christ working within him. He found total sufficiency in trusting Jesus. And Paul could rejoice because he depended on God’s gracious provision.

We can also experience peace, contentment, and joy when we follow Paul’s example. Here are a few practical tips to get us started:

  1. Take every concern and need to God in prayer.
  2. Choose to trust Him with the answer.
  3. Discipline our thoughts. Focus on God’s provision and not the “what ifs.”
  4. Ask Jesus to strengthen us in times of discontentment. Then rely on His strength.
  5. Choose joy over discouragement.

Bury these marvelous truths in your heart, then share them with others. Jesus is far greater than our need. His power mightily overshadows our discouragement.

What one thing discourages you the most today? What truth from God’s Word today speaks encouragement to you?

 

 

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Is God Still Good in Loss?

God is goodFor the last week, I’ve been glued to the news and “praying without ceasing.” Since we just moved to the Dallas area from Houston in June, the area and the people are near to our hearts. We have been worried about neighbors, friends, and church family. Some have suffered loss of property, while others’ homes have escaped the flood waters. Some may be thinking God is good. Others, not so much.

Where is God in all of this? Has He been good to some but withheld His help from others? We are so quick to say “God is good” when things go the way we want. When we get the job. When the sick child is healed. When the water recedes. But do we still praise Him, do we still believe God is good when the flood waters rise?

The Bible teaches us that our circumstances do not dictate or define God’s goodness. God’s character dictates His goodness. God is good all the time. No matter the circumstances. God’s goodness does not depend on a dry house. A flooded home does not mean God has not been good to us. In fact, a flooded home could be an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and grace in your life in a dramatic way.

Truths about the Goodness of God

So what? Let’s start with a correct understanding of God’s goodness. Here are a few truths from Scripture to help us:

  • God’s will for our lives is always good (Romans 12:2). Sometimes – in fact, often – His will includes trials and difficulty that He uses for our spiritual refinement.
  • In all things, in all circumstances, our good God is working for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • The assurance of God’s goodness enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to declare in easy times and hard times, “God is good!”

God is Good Even if Our Circumstances Aren’t

Whether our physical circumstances are easy or difficult, how should these truths impact our daily lives? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Remember that God is good all the time. Not just when things are going the way we think they should.
  • Thank Him for His goodness and provision in every life situation.
  • Be sensitive to those around you who are facing difficult and painful circumstances. Don’t flaunt your “better” circumstances.
  • Declare His goodness in every circumstance, particularly in the hard times. Watch for His provision.
  • Lean on His strength and grace in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. His power working in you will testify of His greatness to others.
  • Remember that He can work in your pain and loss to bring glory to Himself.

God is indeed good all the time. He sees your every need and He cares. Lean on Him in every circumstance – good or bad. If you are able, be God’s tool to help someone else.

If your circumstances are “bad” right now, how have you seen God working in the midst of them?

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The 4 “R” Bible Study Method

Bible study methodThere is not just one right Bible study method. Depending on your goal, you can dive into God’s Word in lots of different ways. For instance, you can do a word, character, or topical study. You can dissect and ingest a small passage, a chapter, or an entire book.

However, there are some general guidelines for all and any Bible study. For instance, we must keep the genre of the book and the context of the passage in mind. We must seek to discover the original meaning of the passage. There are infinite ways to apply a passage, but only one meaning. And, to keep the proper perspective, we must always keep in mind that God’s Word is first and foremost about God.

This Bible study method below is a basic way to dig a little deeper into any biblical passage. You don’t need extra tools or resources. All you need is your Bible, a pen, a notebook or journal, and a humble, teachable attitude. The “R” repetition makes it easy to remember! You can literally take it anywhere! (Click here to get a printable PDF of the following study method.)

The 4 R Bible Study Method

  1. Read – Read the entire passage. For instance, if you plan to study the book of Philippians, read all 4 chapters in one sitting. If you plan to study John 15, read the entire chapter. If you can, it’s helpful to read the passage from several different translations. If you want to go the extra mile – or if your passage is relatively short – rewrite the passage in your own words.
  2. Record – Read the passage again with the attitude of an investigative journalist. If you plan to study a larger passage or book, break it up into chunks to make it manageable. Observe the text, ask the journalistic questions – who, what why, where, and when – and record what you discover. Here are a few other things to look for and record:

Facts

Keywords, repeated words and phrases

People

Places

Timing

Who is writing to who and why

  1. Recognize – Read the passage again and look back over your written observations. Ask God to show you what eternal truths and principles this passage teaches. For instance, what do you learn about God, His character, and His ways? What do you learn about Jesus and what it means to follow Him? What do you learn about the church, salvation, a life of faith, godly relationships?
  2. Respond – This is where the rubber meets the road! How does God want you to apply His truth to your life today? Is there some sin to confess and turn away from? Is there a relationship that needs to be healed? Is there a command to be obeyed or an act of service to perform? Are there beliefs and ways of thinking that need to be conformed to God’s truth?

This Bible study method is so flexible! You can work through it in one sitting with a small passage or weeks with a larger passage or book. Check below for a list of a few helpful resources that will give a good foundation to a lifetime of purposeful Bible study.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Bible study method! Please share!

Bible study resources

A few resources you may find helpful: 

 

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3 Attitudes I Need to Approach God’s Word

God's WordI do a lot of reading. In addition to God’s Word, I read novels, cookbooks, blogs, articles, non-fiction books and more. Some of this reading is for fun. Other reading is for instruction or information. Some I approach casually. Other with skepticism. Some things I read might instruct my behavior. Other things I dismiss as irrelevant or even wrong.

But the Bible is different from anything else we might read. Unlike everything else, it was not written by man, but directly inspired by God Himself. God’s words, God’s heart, given to us. How should we approach the Bible? What attitudes are vital to not only read God’s Word, but to really hear it, to be shaped by it?

I need an attitude adjustment

  1. Humility – Far too often I approach God’s Word with some level pride. Pride in thinking I already know this passage. Pride that I don’t need what He has to say. Oh, but pride is a great deceiver, keeping me from everything God has for me in His Word. Do I really want God to teach me? To use me for His purposes? Then I must humbly allow Him to correct, rebuke, and train me through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (Psalm 25:9).
  2. Submission – Some days I take God’s Word far too casually. I read it and hear His gentle whisper to “tell” or “do” or “go” or “stop.” And I consider obedience. The Bible is God’s authority for my life. It is living, actively penetrating the deepest parts of my heart, mind, and soul to judge my attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and intentions. To make me more like Jesus. How dare I ever tell Him “no.”
  3. Anticipation – God’s Word is light and life and hope. It guides, delivers, and comforts. God’s laws are right and true and trustworthy. The Word of God gives wisdom and joy. I should run to read His Word each day, greatly anticipating the treasure I will find there. Sometimes I do, but not always.

God has reminded me today I need a little attitude adjustment. What about you? Do you approach God’s Word with humility, submission, and anticipation?

Lord God, adjust my attitude today. Forgive me of pride and foster a humble spirit within me. Help me submit to the authority of Your Word, so that I will live a life a full obedience to You. And grant me the joy of anticipation, always delighting in the discovery of Your Word. Amen.

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3 Tips for Understanding Proverbs

understanding proverbsWant to live wisely? Then read the book of Proverbs. They are chock-full of biblical wisdom and insight. Proverbs are easy to remember and often fun to say. For instance, men love to quote Proverbs 21:9: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Ladies, unfortunately this is sad, but true!)

However, believers today often misunderstand or misuse this ancient form of wisdom writing. In today’s post, we will briefly define a proverb and then consider 3 interpretive tips that will help us understand this practical advice for living.

What is a proverb?

A proverb is an observation of life stated in a memorable way. It is a “persuasive saying proven true by experience” (“Encountering the Old Testament” by Arnold and Beyer, page 314). Proverbs are not unique to the Bible. Many ancient cultures made us of this literary device.

However, for the ancient Israelite, the purpose of a proverb was to “apply the principles of Israel’s covenant faith to everyday attitudes, activities, and relationships”  (“Old Testament Survey” by Lasor, Hubbard, and Bush, page 460). Biblical proverbs are also an observation of life, but they also acknowledge that true wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 1:7).

How can we understand the Proverbs?

Like the rest of Scripture, the Proverbs must be understood in light of their purpose, literary genre, context, and original meaning (See also “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context“). Since proverbs are a unique literary style, we cannot interpret them in the same way we do a historical book or an epistle.

Although the tips below are just a tip of the hermeneutical iceberg, they will get us off to a great start in understanding the Proverbs and applying their wisdom to our lives.

3 Tips to understanding Proverbs:

  1. A Proverb is a Principle, Not a Promise

A biblical proverb seeks to apply God’s wisdom to the situations of life. They are guidelines for living, general principles, not promises from God. While generally accurate, they do not take into account every possible scenario or individual circumstance. Therefore, they are not guarantees of a certain outcome, but rather point hearers to the best chance for success.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Many of us have known Christian parents who claimed Proverbs 22:6 as a promise and then were disillusioned when a child turned away from God and never returned. This demonstrates how important it is to understand the nature of a proverb.

  1. A Proverb is Pithy Poetry

A proverb is a saying that encapsulates a broad observation about life. Its primary goal is to state an important, simple truth about life in easy-to-remember terms.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

Brief and memorable, this proverb is about something much deeper than flesh wounds and kisses. True friends tell us the truth for our good, even when it hurts. “Enemies” simply tell us what we want to hear or butter us up to get something they want.

Let’s look beyond the surface and past the simple, catchy words of a proverb to find the deeper truth. Then let’s apply that godly wisdom to our lives.

  1. A Proverb has a Proper Perspective

Ancient standards guide these ancient proverbs. They usually speak of simple desires and basic needs. Yet, often we subconsciously impose our modern, Western mindset and values.

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).

Just imagine how the influence of our affluent culture can affect our understanding of “prospers” and “blessed.” The typical ancient Israelite considered himself blessed if he had shelter and enough food.

We could talk a lot more about proverbs. However, if we remember these 3 tips, we will be well on our way to wise living!

Did any of these 3 surprise you? In light of these 3 tips, have been misunderstanding a particular proverb?

 

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I Don’t Want to Go Church Shopping

church shoppingMany of you know my husband and I recently moved to a new area and are now looking for a new home church. We are just a couple of weeks into the search, but I already have a bit of a battle going on inside me. The church shopping mentality threatens to take control. My desires are trying to push their way to the front.

I want a church that… I’m looking for a church that will… I’d really love for our new church to… Wouldn’t it be nice if…

I have this idea of the church I want. It combines the best of our past church homes. Incredible, worshipful music. Solid, engaging teaching. Believers that do life together. Heavenly involved in missions. Strong community outreach. Active women’s ministry.

And we could look for a church like that and probably find one. We could make a list of all the attributes we desire in a church and compare each one we visit to that list. Does this one meet the criteria? Does that one make the cut? Do we cross off that last church?

But Lord help us – and I mean that as a prayer – I don’t want to find our new church home that way. In fact, I will boldly say, God doesn’t want us to find our new church home that way. I don’t want to choose my favorite; I want to search for and find the church God has already chosen for us.

The term “church shopping” rubs me the wrong way. Yet, sadly, not only do many of us use it, but it also adequately describes how many of us look for a church. We shop for one like we do a car or a prom dress or laundry detergent. Honestly, it’s easy to fall into that mindset. Our consumer-oriented culture programs us to think that way.

But God doesn’t do things the way we do. The Bible tells us that God puts the body together like He desires (1 Corinthians 12:18). He places the people He has chosen into leadership (1 Corinthians 12:27-28). He determines the gifts to individual believers and selects their place of service (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-28).

God’s Word applies to my life today. He already has a church and places to serve picked out and waiting for us. I am determined not to “shop.” I want to seek His will and then follow it. May He help us do just that.

How does this biblical view compare with what we usually hear?

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4 Parenting Don’ts from the Life of Herodias

Herodias parentingA couple of years ago I was part of a team of writers for a Bible study parenting blog series on biblical mothers. I got Herodias. Seriously?! Scripture doesn’t show us anything positive about Herodias – especially her parenting! (See below for a synopsis of Herodias’ story.)

Then I realized God had something to teach me in this story of a self-absorbed mother who used her child as a means to an end. While none of us likely come close to rivaling this totally self-centered user, we can study Herodias as an example of what NOT to do.

Herodias probably used all the people in her life to get what she wanted. She used men to get power. And she used her daughter to get revenge on her enemy. Unfortunately, even the best and most godly mothers can fall into the role of “self-centered user” from time to time.

4 Parenting Don’ts

Herodias’ parenting certainly did more harm than good. But at least she can serve as a warning for all of us. Things like fleshly desires, ambition, and even old hurts rise up and before we know it, we find ourselves selfishly using our children. Here are four possible scenarios we must guard ourselves against:

  1. Using our kids as a trophy – We encourage, push, and maybe even scold our children in hopes they’ll be the star football player or class valedictorian. And why? Is it for their good? Maybe partly. But often it’s to feed our own egos. So we can say, “Well, my son did this… or my daughter succeeded at that…”
  2. Using our kids as a substitute – We all have unfulfilled ambitions from our childhood. That’s not a failing, that’s just life. However, sometimes we parents think we can live out that dream through our children. So we push them to achieve what we didn’t.
  3. Using our kids as a tool – Sometimes parents use their kids to do their “dirty work.” For instance, if I don’t want to talk to the person on the phone I may get my son to tell them I’m not home. Whether out of laziness, guilt, or avoidance, we’ve all been guilty of using our kids to do something we don’t want to do – or even shouldn’t do – ourselves.
  4. Using our kids as a weapon – Have you ever used your child as a “go between” when you were angry at your spouse? Some divorces get so difficult that one spouse will even withhold the children from the other as a way to cause pain. From little hurts to big, any of us could fall to the temptation to use our children as a weapon.

Today’s matriarch, Herodias, was the ultimate self-centered user. She used her daughter as both a tool and a weapon to further her own agenda. Herodias’ story in the Bible is brief, but it packs a killer punch.

Herodias’ Story

Although pieces of Herodias’ story is found in several Gospel accounts Mark 6:14-29, Matthew 14:1-12, Luke 9:7-9), here’s the synopsis:

The trouble began when John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas, the Roman-appointed rule of Galilee, for stealing away and marrying his brother’s wife Herodias. John boldly and repeatedly pointed out Herod’s sin with Herodias. Herodias wanted John silenced – permanently. Herod imprisoned John trying to pacify her, but knowing John was a righteous man of God, Herod refused to have him executed.

So Herodias watched and waited. She knew her opportunity would come and when it did she would get what she wanted. Herodias was a master manipulator and she would use whatever means necessary. Including her daughter.

Soon the “opportune time” arrived. Herod threw himself a big birthday party. This shindig was guys only, more like a rowdy stag party than a simple birthday dinner. Young Salome, Herodias’ daughter by Herod’s brother, danced for Herod and his party guests. When Salome’s dancing pleased Herod, he boastfully promised something he didn’t even have the power to give – “up to half my kingdom!”

This was the moment Herodias had been waiting for and she pounced on it. She used her daughter and even her husband Herod to accomplish what Herod had prevented – the death of John the Baptist.

Salome knew to take Herod’s offer straight to her mother. With her desire finally realized, she sent Salome back, prompted by her mother’s selfish wishes. “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

Sadly, Herod saw no way of escape. He had made a reckless promise in front of important people. To withdraw his offer would mean personal humiliation. And Herodias knew that too. That was part of her plan. The self-centered user got exactly what she wanted.

What can we learn from Herodias?

 I’m sure none of us have used our child as a murder weapon. But we have all used our children to one degree or another. Maybe we pushed them in the direction we wanted them to go. Maybe we asked them to stretch the truth for our convenience. But we all sometimes act selfishly and our children get caught up in the consequences. Our actions, attitudes, and motives will affect our kids. Our character and behavior will at least partly shape their character and behavior. The results of what we do will also land on them.

3 Proactive Parenting Steps

  1. Remember that your child is individually valued by God. God has specific plans and purposes for your child that are different from the ones He has for you. Help your child discover his unique purpose!
  2. Ask God to make you sensitive to any behavior that is selfishly motivated. Then repent immediately!
  3. Purposefully model Christ-like character and godly behavior for your children.

What actions, words, or attitudes in your life negatively affects your children? What can you do now to help shape your children to be more like Jesus?

Note: This post originally appeared on TheMomInitiative.com

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