Before you dive into this post, let me pull out my literary label-maker and mark two thoughts.
- First: I realize I am violating every rule of effective blogging. I write too much; I write too sporadically; I don’t utilize promotional tags; I don’t try to “build a base” of followers. Good heavens…why are you even looking at this page? And yet…please stay! I have yet to know why I even do what I do…is it for others, is it for me, is it for naught? Time will tell. Of course, this changes nothing. I will still write too much, too infrequently, and too obscurely. But now you know that I know…and I know that you know…because I labeled it!
- Second: Before you commit to this next piece, please know that this chapter is really part two of chapter five in that it examines the opposites evident within man’s nature. In each of us, there is an opposition that manifests in our desires (as stated in chapter five), in our design, and in our dilemmas. I don’t want you diving in without the proper gear…and the right amount of oxygen in your tank!
Chapter Six: Man’s Design and Man’s Dilemmas
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Next to our desires, we also find the Law of Opposites evident within our design. Each of us has been equipped with gifts that God implanted in us that we might bear fruit…for the good of others. Paul writes that we all have different gifts (Romans 12:3-8) but they are to be used for the same purpose: the edification of the body of believers. The installation of gifts is crafted by God’s design; the implementation of gifts is, quite often, corrupted by man’s design. And why does this occur? Because we live under the Law of Opposites. While God takes that which was meant for evil and uses it for our good (Gen. 50:20), man in turn takes that which was meant for good and uses it for evil. How do I know this? Because I have fallen upon this two-edged sword of truth. The cut comes when one operates within his/her area of giftedness and then misuses or overuses the gift.
I submit into evidence Exhibit A: the gift of administration. One of the components of administering is the ability to be organized; that is a gift which, on a job application, one would list as a “personal strength”. However, just one line down on the same application, one could also list that same gift as a “personal weakness”. While organization is a valuable trait, it needs to be contained, as do all gifts. There is a time and a place…and a perimeter…in which this gift is to be used. Organizing one’s own space is advantageous, organizing the space of one’s coworkers is, well, adversarial? (This could be a hypothetical example. For those of you who don’t know me, it is definitely hypothetical; for those of you who do…let’s just say it’s plausible.) Let’s shift now to a gift that is less likely to be found in my closet.
I now enter as an example Exhibit B: the gift of mercy. Once again, we find that our gifts are also our deficiencies. If God has bestowed upon you the gift of mercy, you will be understanding and sympathetic, forgiving and compassionate. But, when the gift is separated from the Giver, you may tend to become gullible, easily manipulated, and even deceived. This happens because each gift balances upon a continuum. When God activates the gift, it slides into His hands and He dispenses it for its designated purpose; when it slides into our hands, we diffuse it and conform it to our purpose. It’s the Law of Opposites: our strengths are also our weaknesses.
We see this disparity in every one of the abilities we have received from God. We are prone to tarnishing our gifts because when we use them outside of their protective (Holy Spirit) covering the worldliness of our hands add oils that require repeated polishing. God bestows, we belittle; God magnifies, we modify. The imparting of talents is but step one in the gift-using process; the implementation of those talents through the Holy Spirit is the second, and not-to-be-operated-without, step. Using our gifts apart from the Giver is as foolish as using an office chair (with casters) as a two-step ladder. There will be the moving of a body, but not in the direction intended! (Note to self…buy a two-step ladder, with grippers.)
Lastly, along with our desires and our design, we see the Law of Opposites in our dilemmas. Have you ever known the right thing to do…yet failed to do it? Have you ever talked to God believing…yet closed your prayer with, “Lord, help my unbelief,”? Has your mind ever played tug-of-war with your heart? Well, if you said no to any of these then skip over the rest of this (for it won’t apply to you) and pick up your Bible (which will apply to you) and check out Proverbs 28:26 and Jeremiah 17:9 for starters. Still with me? I thought so. (It’s okay…you are not alone…there are at least two of us!)
While I can’t speak for anyone else, I can testify that, in this body, my head and my heart tend to pull in opposite directions. And, should I follow either of them apart from the counsel of God’s word, I will be led astray…and split in two! Why? Because the heart and the mind each have a push and a pull of their own and left unchecked, and unscriptured, they will not pull in unison. The struggle between the heart and the mind is as old as the ages. We already know that Eve struggled with it, so that pretty much takes us back to the beginning, but we don’t have to go that far back to hear the clash of this ancient and on-going battle.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the evidence of this battle; Job encountered it; Jacob wrestled with it, Jeremiah wept over it. In the New Testament, the battle fields are marked as well; Pilate was sieged by it, Peter dueled with it, and Paul changed camps because of it. And, lest we think this battle isn’t raging on, pick up a newspaper or turn on the television. There you will see not only the drawing of battle lines between the heart and the mind but the continued demarcation of those lines as well. Rather than confessing that our hearts and our minds pull in opposite directions (that we might seek the One who aligns them), we now celebrate this separation…and seek to widen the chasm…and build up siege mounds to bring down the walls that stand in our way…and build new walls of “protection” around its ever shifting borders. It’s evident in our nation’s practices, in its policies, and in its politicians (who, by the way, are merely the voice of the loudest people…shame on us).
Truly, we are governed by more than just external laws but by internal laws as well, as evidenced through the Law of Opposites. From our desire for that which is visible, to our design and tendency to misuse our gifts, to the dilemmas we encounter when our hearts and our minds repel rather than realign; it’s a truth we need to acknowledge because it’s a truth that affects us. When we move away from God we stand apart from God, but not from His laws; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s a truth God embedded into the world which He created and into the creatures which He crafted. God’s desires are pure, ours are polluted; He reaches down to us, we reach out for that which we can see (desires), steer (gifts), and separate (hearts and minds). Thank goodness, thank God, that we are not in this battle alone. Not only do we have access to our Commander in Chief, but we also have access to His Strategic Plan, the Holy Bible.
Chapter Seven will be on the Law of Opposites as revealed in God’s Word.