PURE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 23

 

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
(Matthew 5:8 | The Message)

Pure in heart. Now that’s a phrase we don’t use a lot. We don’t tend to talk about purity that often. We want our water to be pure. We want essential oils to be a certain degree of purity. We like pure gold and Purity Milk. But our hearts? Is it even possible to be “pure in heart?”

When I think of this phrase I think of innocence. Deep down we all know that we adults are anything but pure and innocent. In fact, if we meet someone in their late teens or early twenties who actually is “pure,” we feel uncomfortable around them. We call them sheltered or socially awkward. There’s something unsettling about an adult who is “too” innocent or pure hearted. They’re just a little too childlike.

But isn’t that the point? Jesus said that we must become like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus pointed out children as an example of the kind of faith it takes to follow him. Children who haven’t become jaded or cynical yet are refreshing and even inspiring. They don’t get the innuendoes. They don’t automatically distrust people. They don’t carry around emotional baggage. There is freedom that comes from purity.

Care-free. Joyful. Optimistic. Does this sound like a certain Enneagram type? If you know the Enneagram, I’m sure you’re thinking of Sevens, also known as Enthusiasts.

Sevens are fun to be around, because they’re always up for the next adventure. They bring joy and excitement to their work and whatever else they find to do. Healthy Sevens have an innocence about them that draws people in. Think Bob Goff or “Joy” from Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out.

Sevens are always concerned about what comes next. They want to see all the things. They want to do all the things. Most of the time the expectation of the thing is better than the thing itself. Planning the trip can be more fun than actually going on the trip. Ordering the new product is better than that product arriving. Mapping out the project is better than executing the project.

But what’s the best thing you can imagine? Can you imagine actually seeing God? Being in God’s presence? As exciting as it may be to anticipate that moment, it’s nothing compare to experiencing heaven.

Sevens can be some of the most hesitant Type to actually do the hard inner work required of them. They enjoy being themselves, why would they want to change?! But Enthusiasts must align their inner world with their outer world to become fully present in the moment. They’re always looking to the future, but God is always now.

Bring your inner and outer world into alignment. Pursue your dreams from a pure motivation. Become fully present in the moment. Then you will be able to take a look around and see God at work all around you.
____________________________

What do purity, joy, and productivity have to do with each other?


What do you think it means to “see God?” What do you imagine that will be like?


What does it look like for an adult to be “pure in heart” or innocent without being completely awkward about it?

FAITHFUL | 40 Days of Focus, Day 14

 

“You shall not commit adultery.”
(Exodus 20:14)

We’ve all heard the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Actually, that’s a myth. First, in no way does that mean your particular marriage only has a 50% chance of lasting a lifetime. It simply means that at one point in our nation’s history (a couple decades ago now) for every 2 marriages in a given year, there was 1 divorce. The divorce rate was half that of the marriage rate.

This phenomenon occurred on the heels of court rulings that gave women more authority and control in filing for divorce proceedings. When women were given the chance, they were finally able to end a bad marriage. Imagine being stuck in an abusive marriage, or knowing your spouse is sleeping around, and not being able to do anything about it.

In reality, however, the divorce rate has been on the decline – dropping around 18% over the past decade? Why? Because newly married young people are staying together longer. True, fewer young adults are currently married than ever before (functioning under the mindset of ‘if it’s just going to end in divorce, then why bother?’). But those who do choose to get married are remaining more faithful to each other than comparative couples of previous generations.

This may come as no surprise, but infidelity is still listed as the top specific reason for divorce at nearly 30%. Unfortunately those statistics are not much different for couples inside the church.

The positive intention behind the prohibition is to uphold and honor the covenant of marriage. God railed against the apathetic treatment of wedding vows in the prophetic book of Malachi.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
(Malachi 2:15-16)

Did you catch that line? The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect. This is where we need to speak wisdom into the subject of adultery, unfaithfulness, and divorce. Adultery does not JUST mean sexual immorality. Adultery is not JUST about sex. Adultery is about breaking a covenant. Israel was often called an “adulterous” nation for breaking their covenant with God by worshiping other gods, mistreating the poor, abusing the sacrificial system, taking advantage of people through unbalanced weights and measures, etc.

Israel was in a covenant with God. They broke that covenant and were labeled “adulterers.” Marriage is not just a financial or social institution. It’s a covenantal arrangement between a man, a woman, and God. To break that covenant is to commit adultery – by sleeping around, by abusing your spouse, by neglecting them, and by “doing violence against the one you should protect.” Marriage is so much more than sex. So is adultery.

In the days of Jesus there was a great debate on this issue. Some took the side of Rabbi Hillel who taught that a man could divorce his wife for basically any reason. He emphasized the phrase “who becomes displeasing to him.” Others took the side of Rabbi Shammai who taught that marital unfaithfulness was the only legal grounds for divorce. Whose side did Jesus take?

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:3-9)

Even though Jesus wasn’t married, he upheld the importance of marriage. Faithfulness to one’s spouse goes hand in hand with one’s faithfulness to God. That’s why Jesus said such radical things as this:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
(Matthew 5:27-30)

In other words, don’t even think about cheating on your wife. Don’t even think about sleeping around with men who aren’t your husband. Because eventually thoughts will become actions. People often leave their partners in the head long before they leave them in the bed.

You can see why these commandments are so important. God wanted to ensure a thriving society for his people. When cultures fail to honor their family commitments, when they treat human life as expendable, and when they cease to uphold their wedding vows, society begins to break down. Life, marriage, family – these things should be honored and kept sacred for our own good and the good of society. This is why I try to live up to Jesus’ standard and put into practice the words of Paul in Ephesians:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Ephesians 5:25-33)

_____________________________

Have you heard people toss around the “50%” statistic in relation to marriage and divorce? How does it make you feel about marriage? Is it worth fighting for? Or is it not worth bothering?

Do you think that healthy marriages are a vital part of a healthy society? Why or why not?

In what specific ways can you embody Christ’s sacrificial love in your marriage?

LIFE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 13

 

“You shall not murder.”
(Exodus 20:13)

I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of us could read this command and think, “Done. Next!”

All in all, it seems pretty easy not to kill people. I personally don’t know any murderers. The overall rate of murder and violent crimes is on the decline throughout most of the country. So…odds are that you will see command number six and think, “I’m good.

But you know it’s not that easy. If it were that easy, Jesus wouldn’t have had to bring it up in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
(Matthew 5:21-22)

I find it helpful to reframe these “you shall not” commands and find the positive intention behind the prohibition. This command, as Jesus points out, is not just about not killing, its intention is the preservation of life. To take another person’s life is to snuff out the most sacred part of creation. We can understand that. But to insult, degrade, and oppress another person is to snuff out the Image of God within them, which, according to Jesus, is just another way of violating the sixth command.

So yes, all Christians should be on the side of life. I don’t want to use the term “pro-life” because that has taken on such a one-dimensional connotation. Abortion is DEFINITELY against the sixth command – but so is racism and prejudice and police brutality and sexual abuse and bombing civilians and torture and hate speech and capital punishment and the military industrial complex.

Think of it this way. Where God is, there is life. Through Jesus’ own death and resurrection, he conquered death. Beyond that, his death revealed the baseless and gratuitous violence of the state for what it was. The Pax Romana offered peace at the edge of a sword – and that’s not true peace. The way of Christ – who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – is the way of the cross. It’s dying to yourself so you can really know what life means.

Jesus tells what I consider to be the scariest story ever in Matthew 25.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:41-46)

It’s not enough to not murder. Just because I don’t kill you doesn’t mean I love you. When I’m willing to lay down my own life for your sake, though, that’s true love. That’s the true heart of the sixth command. You may not go around murdering people, but do you help feed the hungry? Do you help provide water for those who have nothing to drink? Do you help clothe the naked? Are you a loving presence for those who are sick or in prison?

In other words, are you on the side of life or death?

“Jesus in Disguise” statue in Rome
If you search the Bible for the phrase “choose life” you will be directed to a powerful passage in Deuteronomy 30, some of Moses’ last words to the nation of Israel before he died:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess…
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20)

Don’t just not kill people. Choose life.

Don’t just be anti-abortion. Choose life.

Don’t just look out for your own interests. Choose life.

Don’t judge the sick, hungry, and homeless. Choose life.

There’s an amazing story of this in action. In the early days of the church, the Christians were living in a culture that did not value the life of infants. The fathers could make a decision to literally discard a baby for various reasons – maybe it was a deformity, maybe it was a little too small for its age, maybe it was a girl. The father would take this unwanted baby and leave it in the town dump to die from the elements. The Christians took Jesus’ call to choose life seriously. They went out and rescued these babies, adopting them and raising them as their own. The Roman government began to notice that these unwanted babies were growing up to become normal, healthy, functioning members of society and eventually outlawed the practice of infanticide.

When God’s people choose life, we can literally change the world.
______________________________

When people talk about being “pro-life” do they only mean in terms of abortion or is it in every aspect of life? What do you think about that?


What do you think of this quote? “If Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, I think he meant we ought not kill them.” Does this mean we all have to be strict pacifists? Why or why not?


If you’re honest with yourself, how often do you find yourself “murdering” someone in the sense that Jesus talks about? What do you think you could do to eliminate those attitudes from your heart?

HONOR | 40 Days of Focus, Day 12

 

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
(Exodus 20:12)

The first four of the 10 Commandments deal with our relationship to God. We have no God but YHWH. We will not craft an image or idol depicting God in order to worship it. We will keep God’s name holy. We will consecrate a time of Sabbath rest to disconnect from the world and reconnect with God and each other.

The fifth commandment turns the focus toward our relationship with others. What is the very first relationship we ever experience? Our parents. Like it or not, you do not get to choose your parents. They are with you for life. Our nuclear family is the primary metaphor for how we understand and relate to God. If we are to think of God as our Father or Mother, like biblical imagery often does, we better take those relationships seriously.

Side note: I find it fascinating that both Father and Mother are mentioned as worthy of honor. Most patriarchal societies only honored the Father as the head of the household. It’s important to remember that the Bible was written in a patriarchal context and was influenced by patriarchy, but that was never the express intention of God – in creation or in his first and most important commands.

This is the first command to have a why to it, or a promise attached to it. “So that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” I mean, this makes sense, doesn’t it? We’ve all had moments when we messed up in a big way and it could have all been avoided had we just listened to our parents in the first place. Ugh…don’t we just hate it when our parents were right all along? It’s like they actually knew what they were talking about!

It’s important to learn this lesson as children, but it can be even more important to live it out as adults. It’s not just teenagers who struggle to honor their parents. Grown children can be just as hesitant to listen to feedback, follow advice, or give the honor due their older parents. This is nothing new. In fact, one of the many hypocrisies Jesus pointed out about the Pharisees concerned this very thing:

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
(Mark 7:9-13)

They were using their supposed religious devotion as an excuse for not helping their aging parents. Ouch. Jesus says that our family relations are more important than that. God doesn’t want our stuff. He wants us to take care of each other, especially our family, and honor our commitments.

The family – father, mother, child – reveal something of God’s own character and nature to the world. There is a oneness from this communal bond. The two – mother and father – become one flesh, literally in the child. God’s own nature is a oneness in community – Father, Son, Spirit. Our family structures are not just coincidental byproducts of evolution or the agricultural revolution. Family represents God’s own self to the world. The only thing declared “not good” in creation was that the man was alone. We are created out of community and for community, love, and oneness with the other.

That’s something to be honored.

Again, some people get caught up on the patriarchal structure of the family in the Bible. But in reality, Scriptures fight against the traditional family hierarchy. The Father is not the head of the house – Jesus is. Women do not submit to men – we submit to each other. Children are to honor and obey their parents – but fathers are to be lenient and understanding. The Bible actually subverts the traditional teachings surrounding the family:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4)

Text your parents and tell them you love them. Better yet, call them and talk to them. Show them the honor and respect they are due – not because they deserve it, but because God thinks it’s important enough the make the effort.

_________________________

Did you ever have a time when things would have gone better for you if you had listened to your parents? What did you learn from that?


Do you have a father who raised you in the “training and instruction of the Lord?” If so, have you taken time to thank him for that? If not, what would you tell him if you could go back in time and have a do-over?


What are some specific ways you can show honor to your parents this week?

NAME | 40 Days of Focus, Day 10

 

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
(Exodus 20:7)

Your name is the loudest, most important word in your vocabulary. From before you were born, you were probably addressed by name. Your parents chose a name that was important and meaningful to them in some regard. When someone needs you, they call your name. You want people to know your name and call you by name. If they don’t know your name, especially after some time knowing you, or they get your name wrong, it can leave you feeling insulted or demeaned.

It can be frustrating to hear your name too much, however. When someone says your name just to say it, that almost feels like an affront, an abuse of your identity.
“Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel…” WHAT?!

Or worse, when someone ascribes some actions or beliefs to you, associating your name with something you would never do or think or condone, it can leave you feeling utterly betrayed.
“Daniel thinks it’s no big deal for people to use the express checkout lane with a cart full of groceries.” I NEVER SAID THAT!

Your name is sacred to you. You don’t want people using your name “in vain” or flippantly. You also don’t want people abusing your name by associating it with something without your consent.

So why do we do that with God’s name?

The Jews took this command so seriously that we don’t even know the true covenantal name of God. They chose not to insert the vowels in the name YHWH, so the literal pronunciation is lost to history. They also would replace the name YHWH with Adonai (or LORD) when reading from the sacred texts so as not to misuse God’s name. Even today, many Jews will write G-d so as not to break this third commandment.

And here we are shouting “Oh my God” at every little thing. When your best friend shows up with a new hair cut, “Oh my God! I love it.” When your plastic Walmart bag breaks, “Oh my God.” When someone is driving too slowly in the left lane, “Oh my God, hurry up!” When your boyfriend proposes, “Oh my God!” When your waitress spills the water, “Oh my God.” When the Property Brothers finish their renovation project on your new, overpriced fixer upper, “Oh my God!” When the ref misses an obvious pass interference call that causes your team to lose the game and miss the Super Bowl, “Oh my God!” When you open a container of spoiled mashed potatoes that has spent three weeks in the back of the fridge…

You get the point. Stop using the name of God as an explicit, a curse, or an exclamation. Find something else to say.

But this command goes deeper than that. If this is where we stop, then we miss the more important prohibition in this command. To misuse God’s name also means to use it incorrectly – slapping God’s name on something in order to gain support or power. When we use God’s name to advance our own career, agenda, ideas, or merchandise, we are breaking the third commandment.

There’s a weird story in 1 Kings 13 where God sent a prophet to King Jeroboam and then told him to leave without staying to eat. The prophet left, but while he was on his way another “old prophet” caught up with him and lied to him. “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” The first prophet went home with the guy and later was killed by a lion. Sometimes people use the name of God to add authority to their ideas. We must be discerning and realize when someone is trying to pull one over on us.

There was another time when the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. They decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant out to the battle to prove that God was on their side. They were misusing the name of God. The Philistines won the battle and captured the Ark.

But probably my favorite cautionary tale against breaking this command is in Acts 19. These Jewish guys were going around driving out demons and using the names of Jesus and Paul in order to add some authority to their business. The story that follows is hilarious.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:13-16)

The name of God is to be kept holy (see the Lord’s Prayer). That means we should honor and revere the names of God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit. We should not use them flippantly as expletives or exclamations. And neither should we use them as a way of promoting our own agendas, beliefs, politics, or businesses.

When a band can’t make it in the main stream so they sign with a Christian label just to sell more albums and show tickets, they’re using God’s name in vain.

When a politician has no previous religious affiliation suddenly begins quoting the Bible in order to appeal to his faith-based voters, he’s using God’s name in vain.

When a country claims to be a Christian nation but repeatedly and systemically abuses minorities, immigrants, and the poor, that country is using God’s name in vain.

When a business capitalizes on a Christian market for their t-shirts, hats, bracelets, bumper stickers, coasters, breath mints, and cheesy paintings, they are using God’s name in vain.

When a political party uses religious rhetoric and Scripture to convince people that “real Christians would never vote for those other guys,” then they are using God’s name in vain.

When we allow ourselves to be convinced that God’s will can only be carried out through government intervention, then we are using God’s name in vain.

There is only one name that can save – and it’s not Washington, DC. It’s not Trump or AOC. It’s not Republican or Democrat. It’s not anything under heaven except one name.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12)

_______________________________

Why do you think it’s so easy for us to exclaim “Oh my God” on a regular basis? Does this bother you? Do you even notice it anymore?


What do you think about the lengths the Jews would go in order not to misuse God’s name? What would people think if we showed that same level of respect?


What specific ways do you see people misusing God’s name in business, politics, etc?

IDOLS | 40 Days of Focus, Day 9

 

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
(Exodus 20:4-6)

The second of the 10 Commandments is a prohibition against crafting an image of a created thing in order to bow down to or worship it. Remember, the Hebrew people have just spent many generations in the land of Egypt which was overrun with idols and images. They were everywhere! If you go to Egypt even today and look at the ancient ruins, there are temples and idols and statues and carvings everywhere you look. They depict the pharaohs and the gods, retelling their collective stories in which they found their identity.

Some pharaohs ramped it up to eleven, like Ramses II who loved him some Ramses II. He built statues and shrines to himself right alongside those of Ra and Osiris and Horus.

“Stop doing that,” God says.

The question is, why?


I think there are many reasons God would give this command, but let’s look at two. First, it’s a little ridiculous to worship the Creator by ascribing to him an image of a created thing. Second, we already have an image of God walking around – human beings. We’ll get to that more in a moment.

I mentioned Isaiah yesterday. I want to draw your attention to what he actually says about the lunacy of idol worship. It’s a longer passage, but well worth it.

The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
he drinks no water and grows faint.
The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
He cut down cedars,
or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
It is used as fuel for burning;
some of it he takes and warms himself,
he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
No one stops to think,
no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
I even baked bread over its coals,
I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”
(Isaiah 44:12-20)

God, the Creator of everything, cannot be contained within or represented by anything we humans can make. God made cows – how are you going to represent him as a cow? God made the sun – how are you going to represent him as the sun? There certainly are things about God’s nature that we can learn from his creation (Romans 1), but any created image will fall short in fully representing God’s power and glory.

But it’s really difficult for us humans to focus on what we can’t see. We often need something on which to fix our gaze. That’s one of the attractions and also the dangers of idol worship. I heard a quote recently, but I cannot remember who originally wrote/said it: “The soul takes the shape of that which has its attention.” We are an increasingly image-based culture. We communicate through emoji, gifs, and memes. We don’t call or send text messages, we SnapChat and post to Instagram Stories. We don’t read books, we wait for the movie. We don’t read magazine articles, we watch YouTube videos.

Gathering around the TV to stream Netflix does not look much different in practice from gathering around the household shrine and telling the stories of the gods. Going to the movies does not look much different in practice than making a pilgrimage to the temple.

Living in an increasingly post-text, more image-based society leads us to think more strongly that “seeing is believing.” You can’t believe or know or experience that which you can’t see. So we create our own gods and form our new religions around celebrities, sports teams, and superheroes.

God says, “Stop it.”

For we live by faith, not by sight.
(2 Corinthians 5:7)

Second, God already has micro-images of himself walking around. Remember on Day Six God created mankind “in his image and likeness.” That makes me think about the time Jesus was at the Temple and some of the religious leaders wanted to trap him. They asked about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ response is brilliant.

“Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
(Matthew 22:19-21)

First of all, they weren’t supposed to have that kind of coin in the Temple because of this Command Number Two. But then Jesus asked about the image and inscription. If Caesar wants to put his image and inscription on a coin to mark it as his, then give it back to him. But God has placed his image and inscription upon each person. You are not your own. So give the coin to Caesar, but give your life to God.

We don’t need to create images to bow down to and worship as a representation of God. God has already done that work for us! Not that we worship human beings, but we see each other and know God is present among us. John words it WAY better than I can.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
(1 John 4:11-12)

If the soul takes the shape of that which holds its attention, then let us set our attention on love. May the love we have for one another be the image of God among us. And may we together in love fix our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate representation of God with us.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
(Hebrews 1:3)

Do I think it’s wrong to have paintings, sculptures, and images adorning our church buildings? No. Art can certainly direct us toward God and connect with us on an emotional level. But we must always remember that the created thing is not to be worshiped or revered as “divine.”

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Why do you think the visual arts are so effective at connecting with us emotionally?


Does your church building utilize art to draw people’s attention to God? Or is your worship space more bland and bare? Why? How effective is it?


Why do you think humans are so prone to worship a created thing rather than their unseen Creator?

ONE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 8

 

And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:1-3)

A quick summary of what happened after the creation accounts in Genesis: God made man and woman, placed them in a perfect garden, and gave them one rule – don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A serpent showed up and convinced them otherwise. They ate, they got expelled, their oldest son killed his younger brother – you know…typical family stuff. Things got worse until God sent a flood to wipe the slate clean and begin again with Noah and his family.

Then God called Abraham who would become the father of a great nation and through whom all the peoples of the world would be blessed. Miraculously Abraham and Sarah were able to have a baby boy in their old age. They named him Isaac. Isaac had twin sons named Jacob and Esau. Jacob tricked Esau out of his blessing and birthright – you know…typical family stuff.

Jacob wrestled with God and had his name changed to Israel. He also had 12 sons, one of whom was named Joseph. The other brothers hated Joseph and sold him to slave traders going to Egypt. One thing led to another and Joseph found himself as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. When famine struck, the rest of Joseph’s family eventually made the move to Egypt, the only land with any food left. And then they just kind of…stayed. For a long time.

Image result for genesis bible

A new dynasty arose in Egypt who did not appreciate the contribution of this family of outsiders, known now as the Hebrews. The new Pharaoh ended up enslaving the population until God rose up a leader named Moses to free his people and lead them into their own homeland to fulfill a promise God made to Abraham.

Are you with me so far?

By some accounts, the people of Israel had spent nearly 400 years in Egypt, speaking their language, sharing their customs, learning about (and possibly worshiping) their gods. Now God must turn this ragamuffin smattering of tribes into a holy nation, a kingdom of priests. God took Moses up onto Mount Sinai and gave him a set of laws by which to establish these newly freed slaves as one nation under God.

Image result for moses with ten commandments

What’s the absolute most important thing for them to know? What’s number one on the list? What is going to be “pinned” to the top forever? Read it again with their history in mind:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”

It’s almost like a formal introduction. “Hello, my name is YHWH. I am your God. Nice to meet you.” But think about it. These people have grown up knowing Ra and Horus and Isis and Osiris and Set and Hathor. Which one of these gods freed us from slavery? None of the above. Odds are they had mostly forgotten the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from their collective memory.

When I was growing up, I learned that the first of the 10 Commandments was “You shall have no other gods before me.” But that’s not what the Jews would say. The first commandment is “I am YHWH your God.” The no other gods clause flows from that declaration.

Also, I find it interesting that God doesn’t say “there are no other gods except me.” That would have been simply unbelievable to these people. Of course there are other gods! YHWH is just one among many. The Egyptians have their gods. We have our God. It’s not until much later that the prophets make the case against the existence of other gods (see Isaiah 44).

Here’s the reality – there are other gods. Anything we place in front of God becomes our god. Anything apart from God to which we cry out “save me!” becomes our idol.

What does that look like for us today? We so easily turn things into modern-day idols – celebrities, government & politicians, bank accounts, stock portfolios, social media profile, academics, sports, food. Our new gods are named “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Jesus put it this way:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33)

We get it wrong when we talk about “priorities.” There can really be only one priority – everything else is secondary or tertiary. If God is not your priority, your number one, then whatever else is in that spot is your idol.

How would you fill in this blank?
“I am the LORD your God who ____________________________.”

The Hebrew people needed to know and remember that it was YHWH who delivered them, not some other god or deity. They did not do it themselves. It wasn’t the Egyptian government’s idea to set all the slaves free. It was only God. He delivered them from slavery and brought them out of Egypt. When they forget that – and how forgetful we humans are! – they always fall into temptation and sin. Always. Remember who God is and what he has done.

May we know God today as our God. May we always remember what God has done for us – life, breath, joy, resilience, health, material blessings, family, friends, forgiveness, salvation, freedom.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17)

And may we never place any other god before God. May nothing in all creation take his place at the top.

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
(Psalm 89:5-8)

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What other “gods” feature most prominently in your life? What “gods” are in the most competition with YHWH for priority in your life?

Why is it important to remember what God had done for us? How often do you share those stories with others? What’s your favorite story about what God has done for you?

 What happens when we forget God and what he has done for us? (See Exodus 32)

Biblical Enneagram Types: THREES

Enneagram Type THREES are commonly known as “The Performer” or “The Achiever.” Threes are driven by a need to succeed, or at least to appear successful. Threes aim to impress others with their skills, their knowledge, and their accomplishments. This is why the vice of Threes is deceit. Threes are expert “mask-wearers.” Threes can become whoever they need to be in any given situation in order to fit in or to make others think highly of them. The danger for Threes is that they can become social chameleons to the point that they lose their own identity, deceiving others to the degree that they end up believing their own false persona. Self-deceit is the true vice of Threes.

But the gift of Threes is truthfulness and authenticity. Threes have really good BS-detectors. They can see through the charades of others because they are so accustomed to the games people play. Healthy Threes value honesty in their relationships and with themselves. They can give you an honest assessment of the world as they see it, and they can tell you how to make things better. Streamlining, productivity, and efficiency are second nature to Threes.

Threes get stuff done.

Every Type has some of God’s own nature in them. When I think of the Performer or Achiever, I think of all the times we are reminded of what God has done for us. “Come and see what God has done.” “The Lord has done great things.”

As a Three, I relate to God as “The First Mover.” God has done the work of salvation for us. This also reassures me that there’s nothing I can do to make God love me any more or any less. I don’t have to work for God’s acceptance. I don’t have to “succeed” in order to earn God’s favor.

One prime example of a Three in the Bible is Jacob. Jacob’s story is recorded in the middle part of Genesis. Jacob and his brother Esau were the fraternal twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. Even from the womb, Jacob was a deceiver. At their birth, Jacob’s limb stuck out first, but his brother was actually the firstborn. Jacob came second, grasping the heal of Esau. Jacob’s name literally means “heal grabber” or “deceiver.”

Jacob would eventually go on to trick his older brother out of his birthright and his blessing. Jacob’s early days represent the unhealthiest side of Threes – success at any cost. Unhealthy Threes can be ultra-competitive. They divide the world into winners and losers, and they definitely wouldn’t be caught dead among the “losers.” Failure is not an option. For unhealthy Threes like Jacob, the ends absolutely justify the means in achieving success and being known as the best.

Unhealthy Threes are not in tune with their emotions at all. They have the ability to compartmentalize their lives in such a way that negative emotions don’t necessarily have any bearing their ability to perform. But this can also mean that Threes try to avoid conflict, especially in times of stress. Rather than confront Esau and own up to his actions, Jacob runs.

While on the run, Jacob receives a vision from God with angels ascending and descending from heaven. Even at his lowest, God reassured Jacob that he was with him, that he was watching over him, that he was loved and pursued. I think this is a message that most Threes need to hear.

Jacob then went to work for his Uncle Laban. While working there, Laban gave Jacob a taste of his own medicine by deceiving him into marrying Leah AND Rachel. But during this time it seems as if Jacob turns a corner. He no longer tries to win at all costs. He works hard for what he wants, knowing that his efforts will pay off in the end if he’s patient enough to follow through. While working for Laban, Jacob gains wives and sons and a lot of wealth. But he also learns patience and humility.

Threes grow through struggle and challenge. If things come too easy to Threes, then they stay stuck in their unhealthy patterns of vanity, deception, and a win-at-all-costs mentality.

The ultimate challenge for Jacob came when he made the decision to go home and confront his past – possibly one of the hardest things for a Three to do. While Jacob was making his way back home, he had an encounter with God that would leave him crippled. Jacob wrestled with God all night, showing his dedication to the struggle and his unwillingness to give up when things got hard – true growth for a Three. In security, Threes go to the healthy side of Six, the Loyalist. They become more others-focused, more dedicated, more loyal, more in touch with their own emotions and those of others. In refusing to give up when things got hard, Jacob showed real maturity and transformation.

But he also failed. Jacob didn’t win in his wrestling match. Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to a Three is failure. We learn far more from our failures than we do from our successes. Threes want to avoid failure at all costs, but it’s the very thing that can lead to growth and transformation.

When Jacob finally did confront Esau, things were not nearly as bad as he had imagined. He had feared for the worst – that Esau would still hold his deceptions against him and would seek revenge for all that Jacob had taken from him. Much to Jacob’s surprise, he was greeted with the open arms of forgiveness.

This can completely rock a Threes’ world. Threes, especially unhealthy Threes, have a hard time believing that they are worthy of love and acceptance. They know their own deceitfulness and vanity. They know their own faults that they are trying to hide from the rest of the world. When those faults, failures, shortcomings, and sins are laid bare for all the world to see, and they are still forgiven and loved anyway, that is almost more than a Three can bear.

Before Jacob met his brother face to face, he tried to soften things up by sending flocks and herds and gifts. Look at the interaction that follows.

Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”
“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”
“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.
(Genesis 33:8-11)

Once Threes turn a corner in their lives they are no longer driven by success, vanity, and appearances, but rather by truthfulness, authenticity, and acceptance. This can take a lifetime for a Three to learn, and it only comes through the very thing Threes avoid the most – failure.

If you are a Three, like I am, you must stop fearing failure. You must stop believing the lies: “I am what I do; I am what I have; and I am what others say I am.” You are a child of God. You are loved, accepted, and pursued by God. Even if your worst and darkest part of yourself is fully known, you can also experience love and grace and forgiveness.
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If you haven’t yet, check out the song “Three” by Sleeping at Last

Biblical Enneagram Types: TWOS

The Enneagram Type TWO is commonly known as the Helper. Twos have a need to be needed. Hospitality is their jam. They are always ready to play host or hostess at a moment’s notice. There’s always more room at the table with Twos.

Twos are, outwardly, very others-focused. Helpers tend to focus on the emotions and needs of the other people in their lives, often to the neglect of their own needs. Helpers are always wanting to make sure others are taken care of and can be hesitant to make their own needs and desires known. I emphasize the outwardness of their actions because Twos (like many numbers) live in a place of tension between their outward actions and their inward motivations.

Twos will help clear the table and wash the dishes at a friend’s house after the dinner party without being asked. But Twos, especially unhealthy Twos, can be resentful that no one else offered to join in. Twos are in that weird space of appearing humble but acting out of a sense of pride. They want to be needed, they want to help, but they can easily become bitter towards those who don’t help them.

Or to the other extreme, Twos can make themselves indispensable to someone they love and develop an unhealthy codependency. Twos can be enablers of bad behaviors in those they love because they so desperately need to be needed. If you are a Two or are in relationship with someone who is a Two, these are things to look out for.

But we all love the Twos in our lives. It’s no surprise to me that most women who are mothers identify, at least somewhat, as a Two. Mothers are the best example of Helpers in our every day lives. Moms are there for us no matter what. Moms want to make sure that we’ve gotten enough to eat, that our hair is combed, that our jersey is washed, and that our khakis aren’t wrinkled. This has been changing some over the past few decades as gender roles and household norms transform. More husbands/dads are picking up the load and not leaving everything to the wife/mother to do.

I don’t know if my mom is a Two, but when I read the description of what Helpers are like, I think of her and many other great women I know. This is even reflected in the language of Genesis 2 when God creates a “helper” for Adam, one who is suitable and compatible for him.

Do you know who else in the Bible is described as a Helper? God. Check out these descriptions of God:

Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.
(Deuteronomy 33:29)

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
(Psalm 10:14)

The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
(Psalm 118:7)

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:6)

Like all types, Twos have something special of God’s own character within them. Twos came “not to be served, but to serve.” Twos will drop what they’re doing and help you in a moment’s notice.

But because Twos struggle inwardly with pride, their helpfulness can often be tainted by ulterior motives, bitterness, and resentfulness.

The classic story of a Two is found in Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Notice a few things. Mary and Martha live together, but who opened their home to Jesus? Martha. Who was making all the preparations? Martha. Who refused to ask her sister for help and let her resentfulness bubble over into an angry outburst? Martha.

Martha, Martha, Martha…

Martha sounds like a classic Two in this story. She’s playing the welcoming, gracious hostess to Jesus and his disciples. There are things to clean and an entire meal to prepare. Martha is definitely up for the challenge, but she can’t do it all on her own. She needs her sister to help. Unfortunately, Mary is nowhere to be found.

Mary, probably a Four, is completely bailing on Martha in order to sit with the guys and listen to Jesus teach. So Martha tattles to Jesus and tries to make him tell Mary to help her out.

Twos are in the Heart Triad. Twos, Threes, and Fours are more image-conscious than the other numbers. For Twos, it’s important to make serving and helping look effortless. Twos are more likely to have magazine-ready center pieces on their dining tables. Twos want everyone to think that they are humble, selfless, and that they’ve got it all together. But the family members of Twos know the reality of the situation.

I would bet you money (if I were a betting man) that this wasn’t the first time Martha had had this “discussion” with Mary.

Twos want to feel appreciated, and they want their efforts to be noticed. They just have trouble making their needs known. Bitterness takes root and grows when needs and expectations are not clearly communicated.

Twos need to learn the lesson that Jesus taught Martha. Only one thing matters – sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from him. Jesus was a servant! Jesus was a helper! Jesus had a lot of Two in him. But Jesus taught us how to love with no strings attached.

In other words, what good is it if you have perfect table decorations but you miss out on the meal?

Serving is a gift (Romans 12:7). We all need Helpers in our lives. Some of my favorite people are Twos. We have much to learn from you and much to love about you. But we also need you to be real with us. We need you to let us help you. We need you to be open and honest about your feelings before you hold them all in and explode like Martha.

You have loved us and served us. Now let us return the favor. Sit down and take a load off.

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If you are a Two, be sure to check out the song “Two” by Sleeping at Last

Why the Enneagram? pt. 1

I’ve shared some thoughts on the Enneagram recently. I know it’s growing in popularity, especially among certain Christian circles. I think it’s a helpful tool, and can give you a lot of insight into your own personality and that of others. But why even bother at all? Isn’t it just like any other personality quiz or horoscopes? Why should anyone be interested in the Enneagram unless all your friends are doing it and you want to talk about your number at the next dinner party?

First of all, if that’s all you want to get out of it, then seriously don’t bother.

However, if you’re ready to go on a serious journey of self-discovery and transformation, then the Enneagram (IMHO) is the best tool to help with that process.

You may be on the fence about it. So let me lay out what I believe the be the biblical foundation for this transformation process and why the Enneagram can help with it.

THREE BIG TRUTHS

Lets begin with three fundamental truths:

1. Every person is created in the Image of God.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28)

Every single calorie-consuming, oxygen-processing, hemoglobin-pumping human is made in the Image of God the creator. Your new neighbors from some country in Central America you can never quite remember? Image of God. Your in-laws with whom you’d rather not spend more time with than necessary? Image of God. That awful customer who is berating you for something you had no control over? Image of God. Your boss who is placing unrealistic expectations on you? Image of God. The mass shooter? The corrupt politician? The strung-out hooker on the corner? Image. Of. God.

So what does this mean? Each person is worthy of respect. Each person needs to love and to be loved. Each person has the capacity for great things. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood. In other words, if you can hit them and make them bleed, then they are not your enemy. They are a potential brother or sister in Christ.

Yes, some people are simply unbearable to be around. But so are you sometimes. The fact that we are created in God’s image and likeness means that each person has some amount of good in them that’s worth discovering.

But let’s be honest. Sometimes the hardest person to see the good within is…ourselves. It’s easy for us to lose sight of the God-Image within ourselves. That’s when we become fearful, worrisome, anxious, or angry. That’s when we become filled with shame or regret or envy. The Enneagram helps us to rediscover the Image of God within others and, more importantly, within ourselves.

2. Our highest calling is to love God with our entire being – body, heart, and mind.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

This passage is known as The Shema, from the Hebrew word “hear” or “listen.” When asked what the greatest command in Scripture is, Jesus quotes  The Shema. The greatest command, the highest calling in all the Bible is to love God with our entire being. We must love God with our heart (our emotional center), with all our soul (our intellect), and with all our strength (our physical bodies).

In Enneagram language we see this in the triads – Head, Heart, Body – or Feeling, Thinking, Doing. Each one of us is drawn to one of these expressions more than the others as our way of relating to God.

If we are head people, then we will be really into Bible studies. We will want to know and learn as much as possible about the Bible, history, theology, etc. We want our worship songs to be biblically accurate. We want the preaching to teach us something new. We want to sit and talk for hours about systematic theology.

If we are heart people, then we want worship to be passionate and full of emotions. We want to connect on a deep level with the music and the prayers. We will want more creative, artistic forms of expression in worship. Maybe tears. We want a preacher who is emotive and expressive and deeply moving. We want to be inspired deep in our souls.

If we’re body people, then we’re looking at the clock hoping the preacher doesn’t get too long winded because we’ve got things to do. We’d rather be out serving, helping, making a difference. We feel most connected with God when we’re actually doing the things we’ve heard about in church. We want to experience God in action. Enough studying. Enough sappy worship songs. Let’s get going!

Each of us will be drawn to one of these more than the other. We will be dominant in thinking, feeling, or doing, and we will also be regressive in one of the remaining areas. The Enneagram helps us understand which is our dominant center and which is our regressive center. The goal is to bring all three into balance or rhythm so that we can truly love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength.

3. Our love for God is fulfilled in loving others AND loving ourselves.

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

After stating the Shema as the “first and greatest” command, Jesus then said there was a second command like it. He then quotes from the passage above, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s not even that this is the second place command and the Shema is first place. It’s more like “Command 1.A and Command 1.B.” We show our love for God by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

These verses back up this point:

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

If we claim to love God, then we must show it by loving others. It’s as plain as that. We get it. That’s what we’re taught. Love God. Love others. That’s the life of a disciple in a nutshell, right?

But we skip over the last part of Command 1.B – Love your neighbor as yourself. We don’t tend to emphasize self-love that much. Admittedly, we do run the risk of becoming self-absorbed if we emphasize self-love and self-care too much. But if we don’t emphasize it at all, then we can become self-loathing. We can become our own worst critics.

I can almost guarantee that you speak more harshly to yourself than you ever would to your best friend or your significant other. You would never call your girlfriend fat (at least I hope!). You would never call your spouse a worthless moron. You would never call your child a failure for missing a couple questions on their test. Yet we say these things and worse (!) to ourselves every day.

We need to develop a sense of love and compassion for ourselves, too. We need to show mercy and forgiveness to ourselves, too. We cannot pour from an empty vessel. We cannot truly love others if we are not loving and accepting of ourselves, who God made us to be.

Paul talks about the need for self-love in his instructions to husbands and wives:

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:28-29)

The Enneagram is a tool for developing empathy and compassion for others and for yourself. It will reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly about you. You will find things you never even knew were there. But the Enneagram will help you see that for every shadow there is a light, for every bit of ugliness there is beauty, for every fault there is a gift. The worst part about you and the best part about you are often two sides of the same coin. And that coin bears God’s image and likeness.

MORE ABOUT THE ENNEAGRAM:
11 Great Enneagram Resources
3 Benefits of the Enneagram