Little Times of Trouble
SECOND QUARTER 2019
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #10
JUNE 8, 2019
“LITTLE TIMES OF TROUBLE”
Memory Text: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Ephesians 4:26
This lesson is best understood in the bigger picture of the Great Controversy and the goal of Christ vs. Satan in terms of the event of Revelation 18:1, when the earth is lit with the glory of God, or His character of love. Isaiah 43:7 tells man his destiny, that we were created for the glory of God. It is God’s full intent to reproduce His character of love in His people, and we have the potential for unending growth in a knowledge of God’s love through eternity. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In the truly converted Christian, dependent upon God for the spiritual reflection of those traits, all will be present. We love because He first loved us, and revealed His character of love on Calvary.
Satan, on the other hand, wants to reproduce his character in us, thus the issue of the Seal of God vs. the Mark of the Beast. Satan is a liar, a murderer, and is “wroth” at the woman and makes war with those who keep the Commandments of God, have the Faith of Jesus, and possess the Spirit of Prophecy. He wants to recruit an army to attack the New Jerusalem in the attempt to gain access to the Tree of Life and gain immortality, as well as the throne of God. Revelation 11:18 reveals the degree of success, sadly, that Satan has, as it reads “And the nations were angry.” Satan wants the human race angry, and He does not care HOW they get to that point, nor how “justified” they feel in their anger, just so they fail to see Christ’s life reproduced in them. Thus, He brings racial tensions, international conflict, family and marital strife, conflict in the work place, abuse, sexual assault, mental health problems, and many other problems all with the intent to create an internalized anger, which ultimately is directed at God. For example, let us reflect on racial bigotry. The one who experiences bigotry feels a righteous anger at the experience, but if they are not careful, Satan will turn it into sinful anger and a pride that one is “justified” in their feelings, and Satan has them, for they are not focused on God’s will at that moment, but on their own self-centered wounding. Man’s problem is not low self-esteem, or the abuses done by others, it is still pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, and the negative experiences of life can only become exploited, by Satan, to continue in those sinful states. We are told in the Bible to “overcome evil with good”, to “love our enemies”, to be “patient, kind, tenderhearted” towards others, to forgive, to consider others before ourselves, to bear each other’s burdens, and to allow Christ to live out His life in us. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I Corinthians 10:31 says that in whatever we do, we should do it all to the glory of God. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Our choices, each day, are all involved in the character we form, either for God and the principle of love, or for self and the anger that coveting, bitterness, unforgiveness, rage, fear, guilt, shame, and lust produces in the human heart. The emotions we reveal reflect not only what spirit is in us, but also, whom we are loyal to, and what principles we value and want to emulate. The lesson calls them “Little Times of Trouble.” It is also true that they are big times to choose to live righteously in the little issues of life, which of course are never really little, for our relationships, our experiences, our emotions, our minds and hearts are very important to us. I write this all very humbly, for I recognize that we all have growing to do in the formation of Christian character, and the consistent revealing of love springing forth spontaneously in and from the heart.
I firmly believe that only as we fully rely on Christ for grace and righteousness, and as long as we keep the larger picture in mind will we have the right motivations for dealing with conflict and other issues of life. Conflict comes from the “Great Controversy” that was started in heaven. This Controversy is played out in every home, in every city, and in every person. It is over love versus selfishness. We can and will discuss some specific methods and behaviors which may prove useful, but we can never forget that “without Me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5. I have previously worked as a psychologist, and there is nothing more engrained in my mind than that humanistic methods for solving conflict and improving relationships will never work with Jesus. We need to be born again, for every issue we face.
There are some practices which can assist in handling conflict, such as “time out”, “a cooling off period”, refusing to fight, etc. but of course the most important thing is to pray, and to consciously choose to not defile oneself, Daniel 1:8, but to allow Christ and His Spirit to rule in our lives. “Be slow to speak”, “A soft word turns away wrath”, and Proverbs 19:11, which says, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
The essence of the Gospel is forgiveness and restoration. We as converted Christians are called to demonstrate these principles in our relationships, such as marriage. Judgmentalism, a critical spirit, bitterness, and pride are faulty character traits which disallow the revelation of the character, ministry, and goal of Christ for our lives, and the lives of others. We are to turn conflicts into an opportunity for personal and intercessory prayer, and an opportunity to turn the situation in a positive response and love as a response.
Anger as an emotion itself is not a sin, but the anger is to be towards sin, while loving, forgiving, and seeking reconciliation with the sinner. Anger in the form of bitterness, rage, unforgiveness, revenge, and an attitude of self- righteousness turns the emotion into a sin, and “only by love is love awakened.” People expect rebuke, criticism, and condemnation, but love, humility, forgiveness, and a conciliatory spirit catches them by surprise, and often awakens their better instincts, and certainly, respect for your faith and religion.
The essence of character growth is the golden rule, and in such a relationship, people feel safe, loved, and free to grow. Selfishness takes the place of love and leads to abuse, a controlling spirit, and words and actions which only destroy, for the “wages of sin is death”, and on many levels. People who obtain a divorce often signed the divorce papers years before, in their choice to “win”, instead of healing a relationship, and enhancing it.
People will know us by our love, by our gentleness, our willingness to place the other person as more important than ourselves, and by our desire to place the relationship as more important than winning an argument, for in reality, people never win an argument, both always lose, unless they make better choices. Love will always win the true victory.