It is very easy to point out problems that we see with other people. Most of us have blinders on when we look at ourselves. We think we aren’t so bad. We like to think fairly well of ourselves. If we have done something bad, it certainly wasn’t as bad as what some others are doing. Perhaps you are pure in your own eyes.
You can think and say all you want about yourself—and you likely have tricked yourself in thinking you are good. You can be pure in your own eyes, but that doesn’t make you pure. All of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The LORD examines motives. The LORD sees your heart. The LORD knows you better than you know you! It doesn’t matter how pure you consider yourself.
Today, ask for the LORD to open your eyes. Ask that He reveal to you anything that shouldn’t be there. Be more intentional in looking at your motives.
“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.” – Proverbs 16:2 [NLT]
Often we rush into things without giving much thought. With our fast paced world, rushing is a way of life. At times, we rush without thinking. The Bible tells us to be patient, to take careful steps, to seek out, to test, to rest in Him. Our nature causes us to jump to conclusions, to act in emotion, to not consider but to just move and do what we think is best.
Last night, I saw an empty soda bottle in my son’s room. My son has a horrible habit of leaving empty bottles laying around, a habit that drives his OCD mother crazy. I knew that my daughter needed that type of bottle for her science project so rather than taking the chaos left by my son to the recycling bin, I placed this particular plastic bottle on her desk. A few hours later, she noticed the bottle on her desk. She grabbed it and came rushing downstairs toward my son with bottle in hand. The moment I set eyes on her, I knew she was on a mission—a mission to scold her disorganized brother. I tried to step between her and let her know what happened. Wait! Don’t say anything! Hold on. I need to tell you something. It was certainly a wild moment, but not the first one.
My favorite time of the day is the morning. I love the quiet. So peaceful. So calm. What a wonderful time to consider, to meditate, to examine. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). This verse says, quit striving, stop fighting. Know that God is God. He will be honored by all. There is no need to be rushing around into things, no need to jump around like you have ants in your pants. No need to live so fast paced you miss true life. My friends, God is speaking to you with His still small voice. Stop. Listen. Rest. Take in a deep breath. Allow His words to linger. Examine His Word. Cling to it. Embrace Him. Your only Peace. Your only Joy. Jesus.
When you get angry, it can often be difficult to keep your mouth shut and remove yourself from the situation for awhile. We want to speak out right away. We want to respond. We start to yell. We want to speak our mind. We feel the need to tell the person that we are in the right. We have to explain ourselves. We must get in the last word. We want to tell people when they are wrong and we are right. We can’t help but point fingers.
Nehemiah discovered that people were taking advantage of others. The Jews were charging interest to their brothers. As a result, the people were mortgaging fields and homes. Their children were going into slavery. They were being drained of everything. When Nehemiah found out he was very angry. But notice he did not respond right away.
Nehemiah thought it over; he considered his words and actions. He still went forward and told the people what they were doing was wrong. He told them to return to the people what was theirs. However, he waited till he contained himself and got his thoughts together. Oh how easy it could have been to immediately rush in and start pointing fingers and barking out orders. Instead he gathered his thoughts, went before the people and calmly stated the problem and provided the resolution. Now that is anger management.
“I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, ‘Each one of you is gouging his brother.’”
-Nehemiah 5:6-7 [MSG]
The exchanges between Moses and Pharaoh are interesting. Again and again, Moses approaches Pharaoh to ask for the people to be released to worship God. Pharaoh continues to refuse or to add stipulations that were unacceptable, and then when the plague would come, it would cause him to ask for removal of the plague. Pharaoh continued to consider himself and his power. He continued to see himself in charge.
Now in today’s verse, we see Pharaoh doing something he didn’t do previously. He sent for Moses and Aaron. No longer were they coming and requesting permission to take the Israelites and worship God. Pharaoh was now sending for Moses and Aaron during the night. After the Passover, he saw this great power from God and no longer were the brothers approaching him. He was sending for them. He was telling them to leave—all of them—to get out and do what they requested.
Pharaoh may have later reconsidered, but for this one moment he saw the power of God. He might not have wanted to accept it—rather he wanted to put it out of sight—but he felt it and he didn’t like it. This same power is still at work today. We have a choice—we can accept it or we can try to put it out of sight. We can consider the greatness of God—or we can choose to look away. Just remember the power of God does not cease to be simply because we do not recognize it. God is God no matter what we decide to believe.
“Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. ‘Get out!’ he ordered. ‘Leave my people–and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you have requested.’” – Exodus 12:31 [NLT]
In Exodus 2, we read about Moses committing murder. Verse 12 mentions how Moses looked around in all directions before acting. The NIV states: “Looking this way and that and seeing no one.” Moses knew what he was doing was wrong. In the same way, we sometimes look around to see if anyone is watching before we do something we know we shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
We cannot hide anything from God so why do we look around? Do we look around in hopes that no one else will see what we are about to do? Do we care what people think? Are we already feeling guilty for something we have prepared to do in our hearts? No matter the case, when we are looking around before we are doing something, perhaps we should not be doing it—perhaps we should consider doing something else.
If you catch yourself looking around today, take a step back and ask yourself why you are looking around. Ask yourself what is guiding your steps.
“After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.” – Exodus 2:12 [NLT]
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’” – Haggai 1:7 [NIV]
Haggai is a very short book but in two chapters we read four times that we should “give careful thought” (1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18). Something repeated that often certainly cannot go overlooked. It is such a simple command, but one that we cannot hear enough. At that time, the people had no argument with rebuilding the Temple, but they had chosen to do other things before undertaking the task of rebuilding the Lord’s house. They had skewed priorities.
We also need to give careful thought to our ways. We need to constantly be evaluating our own lives to make sure that we do not have our priorities skewed. It is so easy to be turned toward worldly items like the people of this time period. It is easy to allow our focus to shift gears.
The Lord declared that he was with the people (1:13, 2:4). The Lord is also with us. We do not do life alone. Today be sure to give careful thought to your ways, but don’t forget this promise—that he is with us. May that promise bring you peace.