Instruction Manuals

Do as I say, not as I do.  We have all heard the phrase meaning, “Don't imitate my behavior, but obey my instructions.”  When Jesus left his home in heaven and took on the burden of humanity, he became the antithesis of that statement.  Jesus descended into this broken world to save us all and to be the most-perfect example of love in action.  Parents can struggle sometimes to not be a hypocritical example.  I may tell my daughter not to use her cell phone during dinner, but will find myself perusing Instagram or reading text messages if we are out at a restaurant. 

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we need only to look at the many examples in Scripture of how we should imitate his behavior to the best of our abilities as well as to be an example for those around us, and all of the instructions are there as well.  We simply have to read the instruction manual and follow it.  I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike instruction manuals and always try to put things together using just the images and not the teeny, tiny text that accompanies it.  Sometimes it works out okay, sometimes maybe not.  Do we really want to live this one life we have, and raise the precious families we are blessed with, by skimming the pictures and not reading the manual? 

I confess there are some parts of the bible that can be somewhat difficult for me to interpret (like most of the Old Testament).  Sort of like the teeny, tiny text in the instruction manuals you get for assembling a new desk or piece of fitness equipment, you might not immediately figure out how to make Part A fit with Part B without reading it several times.  I admit I have my favorite books or chapters in the bible too, even underlining and highlighting them to go back to review.  But sometimes I just don’t grasp the full meaning or intent until something happens in my life that jars me and I remember back to reading one phrase, or one line and go, “Oh, that’s how that fits.”    

Recently I watched one of our Kensington Midweek Services from the Troy campus and the arresting way guest speaker Jamie Winship taught on James 4:1-3, that I literally re-watched it 4 times.  I made my family watch it with me (literally made the teenagers sit on the couch and watch the whole thing), walked through it with our small group, and viewed it again at work to help me re-center myself after a difficult confrontation with an individual. 

Submit Yourselves to God

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3 (NIV)

Mr. Winship unpacked James 4 in a way that I had never thought of.  Most of us would take the words “desire” and “kill” in quite the literal sense, but Jamie lays it out to be more about interpersonal relationships. How we can seek to destroy the personal identity of the people around us if it helps us to reach our own goals or make our own life easier. I had one of those “Oh, that’s how that fits” moments last week during that difficult confrontation, struggling with a person who had been pushing all of my buttons and wondering how I should handle the conflict.  Fortunately, James 4:1-3 was still open in the Bible app on my phone, and just glancing at it the words sunk into me and I felt the Holy Spirit breathe a calmness throughout my body.  Rather than reacting to the quarrel, I listened for God’s voice in the situation, as guided by the greatest instruction manual ever written, the Bible. 


Tonya Jacobs | Executive Administrator

Jenn Bander