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Before Judas betrayed Jesus the Lord said to him: You're going to betray me, now go do it.  (John 13:21-27)  I'm paraphrasing of course, nevertheless, after this exchange, Judas went out and betrayed Jesus.  We might think that such a plain statement would have been taken more seriously by Judas and cause him to think twice about his actions, but... it didn't.  Such is deception.  Don't ever assume you are impervious to deception.  Be humble before the Lord, discerning, and teachable so that deception might not have a foothold with you.  Otherwise, deception will lead you to places you do not want to go.  1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

It doesn't take character to live according to our emotions and desires.  Neither does it take talent to be unkind, to ridicule, to accuse, or to condemn.  Anyone can thoughtlessly engage in these things, but doing so will only bring us, and others, harm.  Be a person of exceptional character and choose a better way.  Romans 8:5-6 (NIV) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Don't discount the great value in living in peace with one another -- many good things go away when we don't.  We all have our differences, but we are far more alike than we are different.  When we demonize each other and hate each other because of our differences, the quality of our life, and society, diminishes.  But when we live in peace with one another, a world of possibilities open up to us.  Imagine how different your life would be if people would just be kind.  Now imagine how different your life would be if the anger and frustration you feel didn't exist.  We can't bring about peace by making others comply with our will -- trying to do so will only deepen the divide -- but we can choose to live it out ourselves.  Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

It is far easier to choose a side and stubbornly stick with it than it is to be wise, thoughtful, and open to other possibilities.  And, for many, choosing sides is exactly what they have done.  While they believe they are motivated by truth, the real truth is, they are motivated by winning.  This is a terrible mistake -- a mistake Saul and the Sanhedrin made over and over again, including when Stephen earnestly tried to convince them of the truth of Christ.  How did they react?  See for yourself...  Acts 7:57-58 (NIV) At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.  Sounds like a lot of people today, doesn't it?  Desire truth over winning.  Don't be one who covers your ears, yells at the top of your voice, and rushes to destroy those who see differently than you.  Because, if you do, you may just destroy your last chance at freedom.  Freedom in what, you ask?  Well, that's something to consider.

Be careful who you listen to.  What they say may not be based in truth or wisdom, but in their own brokenness, injuries, prejudices, and misunderstandings.  Don't allow their brokenness to guide your life.  Matthew 15:13-14 (NIV) He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.  Leave them; they are blind guides.  If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."


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