Goodie Two Shoes

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)

In the 2000 movie “Finding Forrester” a teenager named Jamal deliberately denies his ability to answer a question in class so he can fit in with his friends. If he appears to be too smart, his friends wouldn’t think he was cool. This is only one of many examples in our culture where goodness is frowned upon while evil is embraced.

It’s not popular to be smart, or to excel, or to tell the truth in many circles. The person who does their best on the job may be called goodie two shoes. The student who stays on top of their work and participates in class may be called a teacher’s pet. The young man on the street who tells the truth may be labeled a snitch. So to avoid these labels and put downs many people keep their desire to do what’s right in check. Slowly over time, they may even lose their passion for things that are good and right while seeking acceptance from the crowd.

Corinth in biblical times was a very dark place filled with gambling, ritual prostitution, and riotous living. It was the kind of place where being good could keep a person in the minority. So many people made so much money doing wrong in Corinth that good was bad and bad was good. However, when the church at Corinth was corrected over a particular wrong and chose to repent, Paul said they did it with zeal.

Zeal is excitement of mind and fervour of spirit. It’s an energetic, enthusiastic pursuit of a goal from the inside out. Even though they lived in a place where bad was good, the believers at Corinth got excited and energetic about doing what was right. I want to challenge you to do what’s right for right’s sake. Regardless of the negativity around you, find a way to get excited about following God’s commands. 

 

Allow yourself to be encouraged by the benefits that God’s word reveals for your obedience. Have hope and be optimistic about the changes God presents for your life. Never let classmates, co-workers, friends, or anyone else suppress your enthusiasm, joy, and zeal for doing what’s right.

The Hot Light

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)

I grew up in Birmingham and was privileged to have several Krispy Kreme doughnut shops located in the city. Their doughnuts are good but if you ever have one that’s hot, right out of the fryer, it’s an experience that rivals any dessert you’ve ever eaten. Krispy Kreme knows this and has Hot Lights at each location that come on when the doughnuts are fresh.
The lure of hot doughnuts when the hot light is on is so strong, I’ve seen cars cut across 4 lanes of traffic making a bee line for Krispy Kreme. I confess, I’ve done it too.
Righteousness, holiness, and godly living are more attractive than fresh hot doughnuts. When God shines his light in our lives we should hunger for his ways. Paul says one of the factors that caused the church at Corinth to repent was a vehement desire. It’s the kind of desire that moves you to action.
 
When we’re wrong we should have a desire to clear ourselves of any wrong and a desire to have a closer relationship with God. We should also have a desire for godliness that would cause us to change course and make a bee line for God like a car cutting lanes for the hot light.
 

A Posture For Change

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)
I’ve been blessed to work many years with kids in every stage of development. From being an Assistant Director at a daycare and Athletic Director for the Boys and Girls Club to being an outreach minister at a youth detention facility, Youth Minister,  and a substitute teacher for all grades, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and everything in between.

 

One thing that I’ve observed is student behavior changes based on parental involvement. Basically, kids behave differently with teachers and other authority figures than they do with their parents. Kids who terrorize the classroom sometimes transform into angels when their parents call a conference with the teacher. In other cases kids who are defiant and disobedient at home straighten up and fly right, be helpful, and obey every command from their coaches. This leads me to believe kids will display better behavior in the presence of the authority figure they love and respect most.

 

If we reverenced the presence of God like those kids reverence the parents and authority figures in their lives, our behavior would become more godly. The fear (loving reverence) of the Lord helps us achieve the right posture for repentance and life changes. Knowing and acknowledging his presence can help us straighten up and fly right in our faith. 

 

What attitudes, habits, or sins would you change if you knew God was with you?

An Emotion for Change

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)

Change, just like any other experience in our lives, has various emotions tied to it. The emotions may be subtle like the feeling we get when we change into our favorite hoodie, or strong like the feelings we get when we move into a new home or city. Just as there are feelings we get after a change, there are also feelings we have before and during our change process. Typically, the stronger the feelings, the deeper our change.

When Paul writes about the changes or repentance that occurred in the church at Corinth, he identifies indignation as one of the catalysts. Indignation is the irritation we get when we feel we’ve been treated unfairly. It’s the emotion we had as kids when the teacher denied the entire class recess because one kid misbehaved. It wasn’t fair, we were upset about it, and we weren’t happy with the teacher or the student.

For some of us, we will have to become upset with our issues before we change them. We will have to become indignant with the shortcomings that easily drag us down. We may have to realize it’s unfair for our habits to hold us back from the life God planned for us. It’s unfair for our poor attitudes to keep us bound in a cloud of negativity. It’s unfair for our sins to keep us from true fellowship with God.

Indignation can be the driving force that helps us change our path and head in a new direction.

 
 
 

A Good Name

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)

My wife’s late great uncle, Woodrow James often shared wisdom from his life with me. One thing he told me several times went something like this:
 
“When you were born into this world you were only given one thing. The doctors looked at your folks and asked ‘what shall we call him’ and they gave you a name. There is nothing more important than having a good name. Never let it get so high that you can’t reach it. Never let it get so low that you can’t pick it up and people walk on it.”
Woodrow was instructing me to keep my name clear. And, if my name was ever brought low I needed to do all I could to clear my name and bring it back up to standard. When we violate God’s word (sin) a good motivator for changing our ways (repentance) is to work diligently to clear ourselves with God.
 
We shouldn’t be so highly lifted up with an attitude of self righteousness or so low in despair weighed down under the burden of sin. Instead we should strive to clear ourselves and be restored to right standing with God.

Diligent Changes

“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11 NKJV)

When I was a kid I spent many weekends with my late grandparents, Reverend Richard and Nancy Curtis. One of the great memories I have is sitting at the dining room table with Grandma working on 1000 piece puzzles. We would sit for hours carefully searching for puzzle pieces. Even when other family members came over to visit, we would talk to them while working on the puzzle. All of those hours of careful, persistent effort would help us complete the puzzles in two or three weekends.
 
This same diligence (careful, persistent effort) is necessary for making significant changes in our lives. There are no shortcuts to deep, significant changes, especially when it comes to repentance. It’s easy to become complacent when we make the smaller initial changes. Those small steps give us the same level of satisfaction as finding the right place for a single piece of a 1000 piece puzzle. That’s good for the moment and we should celebrate, but it’s not enough enthusiasm to carry us to completion.
Diligence in our efforts to change will help us find, frame, and fill each piece of the puzzle until we become a complete picture of what God intended.

Loving Changes

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV)

Real, lasting changes in our lives usually begin with some sort of stimulant. There may be an event that occurred, a conversation, or certain consequences that will either challenge or inspire us to make changes. The reality of high blood or diabetes pressure may cause us to respond by changing our diets. The birth of our children may inspire us to become better role models. An experience serving the less fortunate may cause us to change the way we see others and become more gracious toward them.
The greatest stimulant for change is love. It begins with love for God, then love for ourselves and others. Repentance (change of mind, purpose, and direction) happens when we are involved in a loving relationship with God. He reveals to us through scripture and prayer how our actions disappoint him. We should respond out of our love for him by making changes.
When my actions or words hurt my kids I feel sorrow because I love them and always want to see them smile. During those times I’m motivated to not only express my sorrow in apology, but to also make changes so it doesn’t happen again.
 
In the same way, if we truly love God and want to please him, then we should be motivated to make the changes he desires for our lives.

It’s Personal

“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33 NKJV)

“I love me some me!” – Terrell Owens
How do you feel about yourself, as a person? Do you like yourself? Many of us are loving and accepting of ourselves. We give ourselves grace and we trust ourselves most of the time. In relationships we must always remember there is another person who is just as special, valuable, and deserving as we are.
 
That other person in the relationship should receive the same self preserving, grace covering, fault forgiving love we show to ourselves. They don’t have to earn it just as we don’t have to earn favor with ourselves. They need the same reverence and respect we believe we should receive. It’s respecting the person, before we even consider what they may say or do.
 
I often tell my wife, Melissa “I love me some you!” She doesn’t have to do anything to earn my love because I’ve accepted her person as a part of my person. I can’t think about myself without thinking about her. When I love her, I’m loving myself. Melissa also respects me and has given me the same grace she gives herself. Because we are together, my value isn’t measured by the car I drive, the money I make, or the titles I hold.
Every relationship is personal. If you’re dating, be sure to look beyond the polished looks and perfume to examine the person you’re with. If you’re married, be sure to look beyond the husband and wife titles to see the person God placed in your life. They deserve the same love and respect you give to yourself.

The Wonder Twins

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 NKJV)

Back in the 70’s and 80’s I use to watch a Saturday morning cartoon called “The Super Friends”. It featured DC Comics characters like Superman, Batman, and Aquaman working together to fight the Legion of Doom. The show also had two alien teens called The Wonder Twins. One twin (a girl) could take the form of animals and the other (a boy) could make shapes out of water. They were powerless without each other. Their super powers could only activate when they touched their rings together and declared what they could do. 

My wife and I are Wonder Twins. The power of our marriage is only activated when we are connected spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Our marriage doesn’t have the same power when we are being pulled in different directions by the opinions of family, friends, and other outsiders.
We had to make a conscious decision to be joined to each other and work to make our marriage strong. If you’re considering marriage here’s some advice I’ve learned from experience.
 
1. Once you’re married, make a decision to stay connected with your spouse. The time you spent together dating is even more important in marriage. Just remember Alone Time = Together Time and your marriage will last.
 
2. Learn as much as you can from other successful marriages. Taking advice from single friends with no marriage experience can erode your marriage foundation. Getting advice from single friends is like getting cooking advice from a person who’s been known to burn a salad.
 
3. Affirm the positive powers you and your spouse share with each other. Never forget your spouse is a wonderful, powerful force in your life. Tell them early and often to build their confidence in your relationship and to remind yourself of the blessing God has given you.
 
Pray and stay determined to be one. It will help your marriage stand up against any obstacle in the world.

The Modern Wife

Guest Blogger: My wife, Melissa Manuel

I was inspired! My husband began his post with “So what exactly is a husband?” So, naturally I must begin with  “So what exactly is a wife? Although I am learning more each day, I will share my thoughts. Today, our society is inundated with commercialism that portrays the wife’s role as one of privilege and entitlement. The character in this role is “entitled” to the extravagant wedding, the huge diamond, the enormous home on the corner, and top rate kids who are ever so polite and poised. If her husband isn’t able to supply those needs then surely she has the right to be disgruntled and threaten divorce, right? Wrong!   I am not discounting traditions, nor am I belittling choice of lifestyle.   I am only stating that the wife’s role is much more than being the benefactor of all things grand. It is a role of great responsibility before God and a role that requires strong spiritual and emotional resolve.

 

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. …and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Ephesians 5:20-24; 33b

In this scripture Paul reminds me of several things:

 

We both have God ordained roles in our relationship.

 

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

 

What I didn’t realize when we first got married is that I had to pull my on spiritual weight in the relationship. For example, I became way too comfortable with expecting my husband to not only go to work, pay the bills, mow the lawn, have bible study with the kids, pray for them, talk with them…I thought it was ok for me to sit idly by and rate his progress, while doing nothing of value. Today we submit to each other, we have specified our expectations and we also know what God expects from each of us.

 

 I submit to my husband for the greater good.

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

 

Although, my husband and I are partners in our relationship, I know that he is responsible to God for our family. He has to answer for us, so I will do everything I can to make his job easier. My love, support, and wisdom are always available to him and I hold nothing back, so that he can do the best job for God possible!

 

I understand that God knows best.

 

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. …and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

 

I’ve heard so many stories of women become overly frustrated regarding this scripture, because their interpretation has been “ What?  I have to obey my husband?! ”. He’s not the boss of me! This attitude of resistance and rebellion has carnal roots and has permeated the hearts of so many women. With this attitude, many women tend to resist God’s best and look for men who can be “sponsors” rather than husbands.   What I understand and trust about God it that he knows what is best for me. My husband is my covering. He loves me, he protects me, and he provides for my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. He loves God and only wants the best for me. He is not a tyrant nor is he a bully. My husband rules over our home with great reverence for God and he watches over our family with gentleness and love.

 

As a wife, my role is to be the giver of hope, holy and wholesome communication, and encouragement. The wife is the heartbeat of the home. Her reward comes from God; she is showered with the love of her husband and the praise of her children.