Fresh Manna© by Pastor Tim Burt
2 Tim 1:13 -14 “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
We had a cat named Cuddles for almost 15 years. At the time we got her, I had never cared for cats. I never had one growing up. When my kids were young, they pleaded with me and I caved in and let them have one. A few years ago, an abandoned kitten was presented to us and again caving it, I took it into our home. It wasn’t a good idea. It was far too frisky and Cuddles, our first cat was too old to adapt. It turned Cuddles from a sweet and wonderful cat into a cranky and hissing monster. She couldn’t stand the kitten. One of my sons, who had previously adored Cuddles, became very enamored with the kitten. His affection had shifted from Cuddles to the new kitten. He began to see Cuddles in more of a negative light. One day when he was complaining about Cuddles, I reminded him of how much he loved her and of how sweet she was before the kitten came on the scene. He was having trouble remembering how much he had loved Cuddles and her pattern of always being a nice cat.
The kitten was too much for our home. We found a new place for it and for Cuddles sake had to give it up. When we did, Cuddles turned back into her sweet self. She won back the affections of my son who was temporarily hurting from the pain of the lost kitten. I was watching him hold her with great affection today. Once again, he affectionately loves her and has completely forgotten about her cranky spell.
In today’s Fresh Manna verse, we see the Apostle Paul instructing the disciples around him to look at his pattern of sound teaching. He was a living example of how to think and be like Jesus. He knew that they had begun to change because of God using him to be an influence upon their life. He wanted them to remember it and guard their hearts by remembering the way he was. Why? One reason was so they could learn from him whether they were with him or not. The other reason was that there were many who hated Paul out of jealousy and believing he was a heretic. They were continuously trying to destroy his reputation and character through lies and rumors. He wanted the disciples to remember who he was and what he represented. When the lies and rumors hit them, he wanted them to guard their hearts and remember the truth about his pattern of sound teaching. Not for the falsehoods that would come.
You wouldn’t think Paul would have to worry about that but think for a minute; Jesus was one day teaching, preaching, casting out demons and healing everyone around Him. They believed Him to be a prophet of God if not the Messiah Himself. Yet after the persecution started, they turned their back on Jesus and forgot about what they had heard and seen and instead believed the rumors and lies. Paul knew that this was a common fickleness of man’s behavior.
I have found that focusing on the good patterns in people has truly helped me value them at times when the devil would try to devalue them or cause upheaval in their lives. At some point in life, the devil is out to destroy everyone’s reputation and character. Usually some kind of problem or misunderstanding happens. Then negative words or rumors start flying. Then the devil works to get us to pay attention and believe those negative comments or rumors more than years of a pattern of good things. It then becomes easy to throw away good relationships and friendships like they were used Kleenex. Holding to on the good in people when things aren’t going right is not an easy task. Just ask any husband or wife.
In 1 Corinthians 13, we are instructed that our default mode should be to believe and assume the best of someone instead of easily being persuaded to believe the worst.
I remember years ago, being upset with someone I considered a friend. He had in my opinion made a few bad chooses which affected and upset me. For a while we were at odds with each other. I kept running things through my mind over and over again and as I did, he became more and more of a villain. I had been praying about this when the Lord stopped me. He said, “I want you to think about everything you have ever liked about this person and the pattern of good I their life.” I started thinking about our friendship, what a good person he was, and all the things I liked about him. As I did, the good feelings immediately started surfacing and bad feelings started to dissipate. It enabled me to back off with a more open perspective and desire to sit down and work out our differences. We worked things out and our friendship was better and stronger than before.
Being able to hold on to the best of people and overlook the bumps is a supernatural doing. It takes God’s help. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit. That is why the end of today’s Fresh Manna verse says, “Guard the good deposit (what you have viewed and believed about good people) that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” It all starts with asking God to help you hold on to and remember and focus on the good pattern you originally saw in a person.
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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