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Bringing Out The Best In Us

Bringing Out The Best In Us

     We’ve all likely commented about someone who positively influences us: “So and so brings out the best in me”.   We all have folks who seem to sway us one way or the other, hopefully for the better.   This may very well be the case, but in the end, each person is totally responsible for his or her own “shaping”.   The Spirit had the psalmist state it thusly: “My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.” (Psa 119:109)   This not only tells us our responsibility, but also the means whereby we can bring out the best in ourselves with the aid and assistance of the Word of God.  
     Perhaps we should examine this in the same way as the great sculptor and painter Michaelangelo did regarding a block of marble.   He is reported to have said: “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block before I start my work. It is already there; I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” Some have simplified this and repeated it as: “The statue is already in the stone. I need only remove all that is not part of the statue.”  The concept is the same and applies to us as well, but not in the exact same way. Within each of us is the capacity to be the ‘best we can be’. However, there is a problem when folks ascribe to various standards rather than the one God set in His Word.
     Above, we pointed out what the Spirit had the psalmist write. Sometime in the past, people developed a ‘skewed’ idea of this. Some expect God to ‘mold’ them into what He wants them to be rather than conforming themselves into what He has stated within His Word. One hymn that seems to project this false idea is “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”, written by composer George Stebbins and lyricist Adelaide Pollard, and published in 1907. The idea in the song is a clear misapplication of Jer. 18:1-6 and God’s declaration that He would do with Israel as He chose. A reading of the remainder of the chapter clearly shows this was a warning for Israel to repent or be destroyed. God has never ‘made’ anyone, individual or nation, do anything against their will. If indeed God ‘molds’ us into something we do not desire, we don’t have ‘free will’, do we?
     Indeed, the idea for the song also comes from Isa. 64:8 where the Spirit had the prophet write: “we all are the work of thy hand.” But this indicates that all humanity is part of God’s creation, not that He ‘molds’ us or ‘makes us do His Will. The first stanza of the songs says: “Mold me and make me after Thy Will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” True, we must “yield” to God, but we cannot “be still” (do nothing) and be pleasing to God. Jas. 4:17 makes this plain. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. God’s Word is good and the following of it is good. To not follow it is sin.
     The second stanza of the song says: “Whiter than snow Lord wash me just now, As in Thy presence humbly I bow”. None have ever been “washed whiter than snow simply by praying.   This is Jesus doing all the work, and the individual doing nothing but asking for blessing. In some hymnals the third verse desires: “Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.” Where is our obedience in this? The fourth stanza says: “Have Thine own way Lord, Have Thine own way. Hold over my being absolute sway.” Again, this is asking Christ to ‘mold’ us, or ‘make us’ into what He wants us to be, with Him doing all the work and us being the beneficiary. God never intended this.  
     This doctrine of God, (Christ or the Holy Spirit) ‘molding us’ against our will is refuted in Rom. 12:2 as the Spirit had Paul write to the Lord’s church in Rome. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. What ‘brings out the best’ in us in this?   Surely it is not by adapting ourselves to the whims and ways of the world! 1John 2:15 commands the opposite. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.Verses 16-17 identifies these things of the world and warns that the world and its lusts will pass away. Verse 17 concludes with: “but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
     What must we do to ‘bring out the best’ in us so that we may ‘abide forever’? Seek to know God’s Will and commit ourselves to doing it daily.   In Matt. 6:33, as Jesus preached the great Sermon on the Mount, He told His Jewish audience: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The kingdom of God is the church. We find in Psa. 119:172 that God’s Word is righteousness. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. It is from the Word of God we know of the love of God, and the manifestation of that love in the sending of Christ to die on the cross to purchase the church. It is from God’s Word that we can learn what it takes to ‘bring out the best’ in us.
    Gal. 6:9 tells us one way to help the Word to bring out the best in us. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.This was the same idea the Spirit had Paul convey in Phil. 3:13-14. This will require focus on our part. He wrote: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 
     If we press forward, be not weary, and do so in accordance with God’s Word, we are promised eternity with God.   But this is not possible unless or until one obeys God’s New Testament plan of Salvation.   Obey the gospel, remain in the Word of God, do His Will, and let the Word ‘bring out the best’ in you, as you follow it daily.    

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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