The Lord’s Scales

“Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s…” Prov. 16:11a

It is a wrap! As we crawl through the final hours of this exceptional year, we cannot help but look back with thanksgiving, seeing where we are in spite of the enormous challenges thrown at us as individuals, families, communities, states, and nations. No one has the manual for navigating times like these, and most of us have managed to pull through only with God’s help, arriving at the year-end safely. So regardless of what/who you may have lost through the year or what you may have been through, I’m just thankful to God you’re still alive to read this.

“…and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land” Acts 27: 44

Let me share a thought with you very quickly, hoping it will encourage you as we journey into the New Year. I’ve thinking long and hard about why I do the things I do, or why I want the things I want. Our time on earth is limited, and as 2020 has acutely demonstrated, we will all pass on from this plane someday. So why do I act the way I do? Whose approval or commendation am I seeking? And what is the basis on which I take pride in my actions? While the answers to my questions may be long and winded, God’s word is clear on what the right answers are.

I want to propose that we all act to either please ourselves, other people, or God – that these three categories summarize the motives for our plans and actions. If that is right, then it means we draw confidence that we are doing the right things from self-commendation, people-commendation, or God-commendation (permit my coinages). The trouble with being assessed or commended by others or oneself is that human standards are not even – they are based on limited knowledge and personal biases. We may commend ourselves or be approved by all men but still be wrong by God.

My recommendation instead, is that you focus on seeking to please only God. God is not just good and perfect; He is all-knowing and everlasting. He sees the end of things from the beginnings and understand the complexities of human interactions. If He approves of my actions or leads me to do certain things, I can be certain I am on the right path regardless of whether it feels good or others approve of it. I say this because taking the right decisions will not always be easy or feel good; it may even meet with heavy criticism or disdain from others. But pleasing God daily is the utmost pursuit.

So, join me as I recalibrate my decision-making process, centralizing God’s will and choosing not to be led by my own thoughts and emotions or the opinions of others. Let us determine to live out God’s will revealed in His Holy Word and seek to know His will where we need to make life choices, not driven by popular opinion, common wisdom or trending behaviors. Let us act with respect to the One in whose hands are the scales, who measures the actions and intent of all humanity and rewards each person according to their deeds.

I wish you a wonderful New Year ahead!

“…knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” Col. 3:24

P.S: I wrote an earlier related post about the Lord being the Judge, you can read it here.

Hearts and Treasures

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21)

The Bible verse above is such a simple but deep and beautiful statement that captures the essence of human priorities. It follows a short discourse from the Lord about laying up treasures in heaven instead of earth. Jesus is teaching his disciples (including us) the importance of keeping their focus on heaven with its permanency rather than on the earth with its transience. His instruction to them is that they should “store” their treasures to the heaven.

The powerful connection between our hearts and treasures is a matter worthy of frequent meditation. Our hearts go where our treasures are, but our treasures also go where our heart is. Jesus directly suggests the first, and subtly implies the second in the passage we have quoted from. As he prepares his followers to be spiritual beings enthroned with him in heaven, he teaches them to take natural steps which help keep their focus where they truly belong.

Reading this as a born-again believer translated to God’s kingdom through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I see “storing” my treasures in heaven as a move to keep my treasures where my heart is. This is necessary because of the divine insight Jesus provided – if my treasures remain only on earth, in places where they can be stolen or destroyed, my heavenly focus would soon be distracted as I worry about what would happen to my earthly treasures.

However, if I lay my treasures in heaven by investing my earthly resources in kingdom efforts – bringing the Word of God to the souls of men, drawing people into God’s kingdom, and building them up in faith so that they stand fast and cannot be moved from the truth – then my heart (emotions, thoughts, desires) will remain focused on heaven, and my resources cannot be stolen or destroyed. To keep your heart focused on heaven, store your treasures there!

We Shall See Him As He Is

This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible, tied to the appearance of Christ at the end of this age. To see Christ as He is (not as we think or imagine him to be) implies that we will be completely free from the limitations of our human minds, which colour our perception of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It means that our hearts will be completely pure and whole. Even more exciting is the resultant reality that “we shall be like him”. Our ability to see Christ in His true form will result in us being transformed into the same form as He. Exciting!

The Bible is also clear that as we behold the glory of the risen Lord, we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. This is our reality here and now. The challenge we face today is whether our eyes are unveiled as we look on the Lord. Veiled faces do not make for transformed hearts. Every veil must be taken away, and that only happens as we turn to the Lord with sincerity of hearts. Do we still hide from the Lord like Adam and Eve after the fall, or are we honest about our struggles and failures as we seek His mercy and grace?

Scripture References: I John 3:2, II Cor. 3:18

Pure Hearts

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. This statement is as simple as it is deep. There is a common saying that “we do not see things as they are; we see them as we are”. This is consistent with Scripture. Titus 1:15 reads, “To the pure, all things are pure…”. To see God requires that the many barriers and biases in our hearts be taken away so we can perceive God clearly, without prejudice or pride. Clarity of perception, not only in seeing God, but also in discerning people, demands that we maintain pure hearts.

So how do we maintain pure hearts? By meditating on the Word of God. God’s Word reveals his highest expectations for us, and leads us into truth. It exposes faults in our thinking, and brings us face-to-face with our shortcomings. If we submit to its authority, we are persuaded to restructure our thoughts and change our ways. If we do not, we resist and reject him, remaining in darkness, which many have done. But to admit His ways are higher and better, and to yield to them: this is how we develop a heart that is pure.

Scripture References: Matthew 5:8, Psalm 119:9

On Repentance towards Others

In every healthy human relationship, there must be a good dose of a repentant attitude on both sides. We are constantly learning about each other, and finding out things about our friends, families and colleagues. If we are not disposed to “repent” or make changes, we are very likely to keep hurting or offending people we claim to love. We must commit to doing better when we fall short, and our commitment has to be backed up by the right actions. This is the language of true love – making sacrifices for the sake of other people.

On the other hand, the absence of true repentance gives room for breeding of mistrust. We humans are creatures of habit and judgment. We watch patterns and make deductions. When you don’t make changes after you claim to be sorry or repentant, you send a clear message that you do not mean your words. Whether they pick on it quickly or not, people remember, and when the great occasion comes when you need their trust, they will call to mind your behaviour. It is very important that we consciously commit to learning and evolving in every relationship.

On Repentance towards God

The thing about repentance is: it always has to be backed up by an action or a proof of change. The very word, “repent”, means to turn away from an action, behaviour or way of life, and embrace an opposite or different action, behaviour, or way of life. This is why John asked the Pharisees to produce fruits worthy of repentance – evidence in lifestyle that they have truly changed their ways. They came out in their numbers to hear him preach but his challenge to them was that of a changed lifestyle. You need to show me proof!

The preaching of repentance in the gospel must always be accompanied by the preaching of faith. This is because the natural man, at his best, is not capable of living in a way that pleases God. To be convicted and desire to change is one thing. To truly take practical steps in living differently requires the power that only Jesus can give. In the words of Jesus, “You must be born again”. To be born again or empowered to live differently requires faith in the resurrected Christ. A man turning from his sins must turn to face Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 20:21, Hebrews 6:1

Give Thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:18, NIV)

Today, I want to send you a quick reminder for a very important Christian attitude: giving thanks! Giving thanks refers to speaking words of appreciation to someone for something they have done (or will do) – an expression of our gratitude to them. While I will focus on giving thanks to God, I also realize that a thankful heart towards God usually doubles as a thankful heart towards fellow human beings. As simple as it is to give thanks, it is an attitude that many have not cultivated because they have allowed their situation to determine their attitude.

Continue reading “Give Thanks!”

Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

Continue reading “Through It All”

Rise

Rise
Above my fears and your misfortune
Above your failure and my weakness
Today could just become your day
But first, you will need to rise again

Rise
To the tune of your glorious anthem
And the rhythm of my solemn pledge
To the challenge of restoring the ruins
And the labour of saving your name

Rise
Above this injustice and corruption
Beyond the limits of manipulation
Rise to the status of true nationhood
In unity and peace, by faith making progress

Rise
My beloved country, my dear friends and family
Above selfish interests and personal gain
Beyond finger-pointing to solution-finding
Until a great nation on the earth we truly become

O.J. Taiwo
Oct. 1, 2014

Joseph

Though a solitary wanderer lost in foreign lands
Yet stayed true to the culture of my native home
The blessings of my father were far much greater
Than amazing bounties found in everlasting hills
Eminent among brothers, a prince among sons
Humbled by circumstances; loved by my father
I found unusual favour with my Father above

He who brought me out of a dungeon so I could
Sit on thrones and teach wisdom to noble men
Makes for a wondrous tale every time it is told
Though depressing as I wandered through it all
And this births my message to every generation:
Hold on to faith as you go through the process
My name is Joseph: a fruitful bough by the well