“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

As a young believer in my college years, my greatest desire was to know the Lord, to understand his ways. My heart was overwhelmed by the grace of God and I wanted to live in a way that honored him. Not having grown up in the church, I began wrestling with what to do in situations where the Bible was not specific. In my thinking, I was still very much “like a child” wanting clear black and white answers to guide me in all of my lifestyle decisions.  The gray made me uncomfortable. It brought doubts in my mind about whether or not certain activities were ones in which I ought to engage. The more I studied the Bible, the more confident I became about my positions on questionable matters.

Looking back on those years, I also saw a shift in my thinking. At first my thinking was driven by a desire to know how I ought to live, how my decisions in any area were pleasing to the Lord. Then subtly, there was a shift. I began to think that I knew how others ought to behave as well. This led to many uncomfortable conversations with my peers who had grown up in the church, and had heard the Bible taught all of their lives. How could it be that they landed in different places than I had when it came to certain questions about how we should live as devoted followers of Christ? My “knowledge” was, as Paul said, puffing me up. (9:2) I did not yet know as I ought to know.

I still remember the way the Holy Spirit used a story in a sermon by Dr. Strauss, our pastor in those days. He described a conversation he had engaged in with the person seated next to him on a long flight. There was strong disagreement about some biblical issue. As the flight went on, he was confident he was able to use his extensive knowledge of the Scriptures to prove the “rightness” of his conclusions. His goal had turned into proving that he was in the right, and his opponent in the wrong. Sadly, he discovered after the flight that while he had won the argument, he had lost the battle. He realized too late he had loved being right over loving his neighbor.

That story has come to my mind at various times over the years, especially as those “gray areas” present themselves in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I rejoice in knowing that I am not a slave to the law or to earning my right standing with God. I am so grateful for the liberty we have in Christ, yet I know the calling of God is to continually guard the posture of my heart. When a gray issue presents itself as I interact with others, my prayer is “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)

Lord, for your Kingdom’s sake, may we be driven by the everlasting way of love over rights, of love over being “right”.

Nicole Jiles
FaithKids Director

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