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Posts Tagged ‘two masters’

Oil painting by Jonathan Queen

Oil painting by Jonathan Queen

Double mindedness sounds bad. It has varying meanings. In scripture, it seems to be more of a split mind, where one’s affinity or affiliation has two masters. But in the secular world, the emphasis is more on wavering (an inability to make up one’s mind) or a half-hearted attempt at something. Am I guilty of not just one, but both?

Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other. [James 4:8, The Voice]

I am really growing to love the new Voice translation which has both an artistic element and a creative way of expressive the nuances of a passage. For this reason, my heart was struck heavily by this verse in James.

My own heart, carrying within it [still], those secrets, is fueling the split of my mind so that my love and dedication to God is being watered down by my selfish wants and wannabe.

Coming from the Greek word, dipsuchos, it can also mean “double-souled.” And suddenly the reality of this state clicks in. I invited the Christ Spirit to dwell within but I confess, I still want things to go my way. I have relegated the Spirit to a friendly helper, and standby magician, a comforter in times of stress, but have I surrendered the way to Spirit?

And here comes the wavering: surely, it’s time to really let go. Decide. Give God full rein, not half. Give Spirit freedom to reveal the intended me. This me would not be so quick to judge or lie or inflate my own importance. This me would not crave esteem and distinction. For all that would come from the soul of Spirit, the breath of God.

Verse 10 (also in the Voice) says, “Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head . . . ” More traditional translations say, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Not lifted to fame, but lifted in newness of a life, a singleness of purpose, a singleness of mind, a singleness of soul.

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I think most people want to be married, to be in a committed relationship and to build a family. This is the norm of our culture. But in that light, Paul says there will be divided devotion; it comes with the territory. I think it’s time to stop beating myself up on this issue of a divided heart.

I Corinthians 7:33-34a, 35
But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. . . . I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you [single people] may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Additional references to the idea of a “divided heart” might be Matthew 6:24 (two masters), James 4:8 (double-mindedness), Psalm 86:11 or Hosea 10:2. Bad, bad, bad, that’s all I read and the condemnation rains down upon me. Enough.

The undivided heart state is an amazing ideal, but I need to be more realistic about attaining single mindedness in this time of my life. If I only focus on the undivided heart scriptures, I lose sight of the other tasks God has placed before me: namely, my family.

Actually, my devotional practices are better than ever, single or married. My sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, my desire to please God, my trust in a sovereign God, all have grown in the past few years and continue to grow. I am studying the scriptures systematically and I am praying daily. I am seeking God’s will.

But much of my prayer time is on behalf of my husband and and particularly, my children, whose spiritual lives are quite unformed still. There have been so many missteps, so many truths I have not managed to share convincingly, so many outright failures. Our marriage, although laced with kindness and cooperation, is not particularly trusting or intimate. I need to reach a much deeper place of humility there.

And what of my other relationships? These too are an intrinsic part of loving God, that is, loving others. But don’t these relationships also take a piece of the heart? They take energy and time and thought. They require concern and devotion. They, too, divide the heart.

I wonder if it’s not a huge paradox. Maybe divided devotion for love actually comes together as ultimate devotion to God. After all, what is given (time, energy, love) to the “least of these” is given unto God [Matthew 25:40].

What if it’s not divided love that is a problem but mis-directed love: idol worship, loving without God, loving carnally, loving selfishly, or loving for gain.

Like a shady bookkeeper keeping double books, two complete sets–one the truth and one a complete fabrication–this divided devotion will fail. This double heart cannot live. Unfortunately, the black heart of deceit is strong and will prevail unless there is help, confession, and truth.

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The Rabbi’s yoke is the set of interpretations of the law that a rabbi has and passes to his students. Paul was zealous because his teacher taught him to be. How many of us are still operating out of ingrained lessons and prejudices?

Acts 22:3b
“…Under Gamaliel I [Paul] was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you [the crowd in Jerusalem] are today.”

My mother, an immigrant, was fervent about equal rights. When we first arrived in this country (1951), we lived in North Carolina. My father, already over 60, was forced to carry heavy railroad ties alone because the supervisor assumed he wouldn’t want to work with a negro [that’s the polite term]. We moved to Indianapolis within the year. There we lived in the inner city where we experienced a different form of prejudice against us because we were “foreigners.” In the end, although our family was poor and fiscally conservative, we remained socially liberal.

But others are taught from an early age to distrust, fear and even hate. Children are brainwashed to believe the worst and they quickly mouth the name-calling and rants they hear in the home. This learned hatred is particularly vitriolic in the case of skin color, sexuality, and religious practices. In some middle eastern countries, this yoke (set of beliefs) has escalated to the point of sacrificial suicide to kill and destroy “infidels.”

In order to take on a new yoke, one must take off the old one. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” [Matthew 6:24a]

It is so difficult to let go of something we have believed our whole lives. Instead, the old yoke is perpetuated from one generation to another. We teach our children what we were taught, either directly or indirectly.

But Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. [Matthew 11:30] And yet, some people still try to make the yoke of Jesus heavy and burdensome. They manipulate His yoke to be more like the yoke they have known before.

Jesus’s yoke is like no other yoke. There is freedom. There is love. There is a lightness of being. There is trust. There is hope. There is Spirit.

Paul was thrown to the ground and blinded in order to get his attention. What about us? What must God do to reveal the yoke of Jesus to us? I think I am still trying to wear more than one yoke. Show me, O God, the yokes of my past that weigh me down.

I only want to carry one yoke: the yoke of Christ Jesus.

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