What’s Your “The”?

I’ve been studying the book of Ruth lately. Painstakingly slow. I began the beginning of February and I’m still only on chapter 2. I hadn’t planned on studying it, but our pastor began preaching through the short book and I began reading it in preparation for his sermons.

Also I needed to make a graphic for the bulletin cover which necessitated my reading also. But I digress.

The story of Ruth is a wonderful picture of the life of an indwelt Christian. We all know it is the love story of Boaz and Ruth. But it’s also a love story of God and His people. In the first chapter we see ourselves as we really are before Jesus. We’ve fled the freedom of the promised land because of famine and are living exactly where God told us not to live…the Land of Moab.  But God begins wooing us out of our sinful state by noticeably blessing those around us. We decide to return and that is where the love story really begins. We come to the realization that He is our Kinsman Redeemer, and He has gone to great lengths to buy us back from captivity and sin.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 2 dawns with Ruth asking Naomi’s permission to go glean in a field, behind someone in whose sight she would find favor. Naomi obviously gives her permission and off Ruth goes. In gleaning that day she happened (actual Hebrew word means, “her chance chanced upon”) to come to the field owned by Boaz. I’m not going to get into the whole story here because that isn’t the topic or issue for this post.

In this chapter Ruth is continually referred to as “Ruth the Moabitess”, I believe the same holds true in the rest of Scripture. Everywhere she is named the two words, “the Moabitess” follows her name. It struck me as odd this morning. She is constantly referred to by who she was.

I am firmly convinced that she had a complete heart and life change when she left Moab with Naomi. I am sure it wasn’t after she left, but the change started before, while they were all still living in Moab. Before her father-in-law died, before her brother-in-law died, and before her husband died.

But nowhere is that change noted or mentioned. It’s striking to me, Rahab isn’t always known as Rahab the Harlot. But every time we see Ruth, we are reminded that she was an outsider, a non-Israelite. She didn’t fit it, didn’t belong, she wasn’t one of them.

In chapter 2 we also see that she is known for her kindness to Naomi, or what she did. When Boaz asked the servant over the reapers who she was, he was told “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi…”. He didn’t even say her name, but he did say what she had done. Apparently words got around in those days too. Everyone knew who she was because they knew what she had done.

Why the difference? Is it even important? Why call her by who she was every time? It’s an Identity thing! Her identity was in being from Moab.

Our identity isn’t in WHAT we do, but it’s in WHO we are.

We all struggle with seeing our identity in what we do. We ask people, “What do you do?” instead of asking, “Who are you?” Oh, yeah, we’ll ask someone’s name and then say, “Hilda, what do you do?” We identify with our actions.

I am a writer. I’m an attorney. I’m a CPA. I’m a banker. I’m a bank robber. I’m a teacher. I’m a student. I’m a Momma. I’m a secretary. I’m a bum. I’m a broker. I’m a cop. I’m a store clerk. I’m a librarian. I’m a barbarian.

It’s all what we do. But our actions don’t define us or identify us.  We are not what we do.

We pray all the time for Jesus to show us what He wants us to do. We need to stop that. Don’t ask Jesus what He wants you to do. He created you a human BEing not a human DOing.

But also don’t pray to be WHAT Jesus wants you to be. Pray to be WHO Jesus wants you to be. You’re a WHO not a WHAT.

Remember, you are not what you do.  Your job, your title, your activities do not define or identify you. Allow Jesus to be your identity, find your identity in Him and allow Him and His life to identify and define you.


The Temptations

Last week I spent an enjoyable morning reading about Jesus temptation as is found in Matthew 4. The Spirit brought new truths to mind as He opened my eyes to see this familiar passage in a new light.

If you know the passage (I just can’t call it a story. It’s not a story, it’s truth), you know that after Jesus was baptized God the Father descended on Him like a dove. God spoke His Words of Truth over the Word and the Truth. Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He first fasted for 40 days and nights, then the tempter came to Him and tempted Him.

I don’t know how it works in your life, but in my life it works just like this. I will have time of God’s revealing His pleasure of me and I’m hearing His voice speak loud and clear to my soul. Immediately afterward I’ll have a sense that I’m going without something, that I’m fasting only not intentionally. Then the tempter comes in and seeks to remove and destroy all evidence of God’s pleasure.

I’ll start to doubt I heard God’s voice at all. Or that He’ll keep His word to me. Or that I heard right. I’ll be tempted, sorely tempted to doubt.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (nasb)

When I’m being tempted if I respond with anything other than the Truth of God’s Word, I battle on my own and I will not win. If I slap truths on the temptation and rely on my own strength to muscle through the temptation. I will lose the battle every time. It’s guaranteed.

Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and there he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:5

Again the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Matthew 4:8

Even when I battle with the Word, the temptation might not go away but the devil will change tactics and attack from another angle.

When this happens I must still respond with the Truth and in the Truth and I must rely on the Truth to bring my deliverance. If I respond to temptation with truth in myself I will continue to suffer from the deadly disease of pride as if I did it all.

I must not only know the truth, I must believe the truth is true for me. I must be able to apply to every situation in my life, every temptation that comes must be met with truth. But not any truth, it must be met with THE Truth!

I must be aware that temptations to sin can come from anywhere and can change. I must be ready for the rapid-fire changes and tactics or I will be caught off guard and will confuse the voice of temptation with the voice of my Savior.

If I wait the first time I heard something and then act when I hear it again I could be responding to temptation and not Jesus. Notice how the devil tempted Jesus to worship him all three times, but each time he changed the wording, the temptation didn’t change though.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3

Temptation (and the enemy–self or satan) attacks first who I am to bring doubt and confusion as to my identity.  When he has me questioning who I am, he has me on the ropes because I will answer to and fall for anything he says next.

The temptation then expects me to prove my identity by my doing something it requires. Satan expected Jesus to prove His identity by obeying satan.

Jesus knows who I am and will never ask me to prove it. He, even in His testing me, does not use “if” statements. He will never say, “If you’re truly My child then do……” Just as I don’t expect my children to prove they are mine, He doesn’t expect us to prove it to Him either. He knows we are His. We are the ones who doubt.

He does, however, use “because” statements. “Because you are My child this behavior needs to (either) stop (or) grow.”

Temptation seeks to sound like God so I will fall for it every time. Temptation always seeks my worship. It seeks to draw my worship away from God. The more I–through the power of God–resist the more blatant the temptation becomes. Satan started tempting Jesus to make bread, then he moved to more blatant temptations of worship.

The only way to battle temptation is to stand firm in Jesus and in who He declares us to be. Apart from that we have no hope, and haven’t a leg to stand on when faced with temptation. Thankfully Jesus brings us His identity and He battles for us. When we forget who we are and when we are cocky and battle on our own in our own strength we will lose every time.