When I was a child my mom would make my younger brother and I sit on our side of the car and keep our hands to ourselves. In the backseat of the car we would draw an invisible line and command each other not to cross it. Inevitably someone would stick their hand over the imaginary line and the other would shout, “Mom, __________ crossed the line!” Lines are very familiar to us as people, there are double yellow lines on roads, so people do not cross them and go into oncoming traffic; there are lines at department stores to keep people in the place they need to be until the cashier is prepared to serve them. Lines are so much a part of life that when we cross them, we usually know, because they are visible, but the invisible lines are the ones that we cross many times unknowingly.
A fine line is a thin demarcation between one thing and another. When someone crosses the line, it can be hard to identify for the one that crossed it, but the one that has been crossed can usually sense it immediately. Some of the fine lines that people cross and don’t realize until after they cross it include, but are not limited to:
- Passion —————– Anger
- Boundaries —————- Walls
- Order ———————-Control
- Correction —————- Character Assault
- Intimacy ——————– Idolatry
Passion can crossover into anger; boundaries can feel a lot like walls; order can seem like you are being controlled; correction can cross into character assaults; and intimacy can become idolatry if we are not careful. Many of us can think of other fine lines that if we are not careful we can cross in our relationships with other people. We are living in a world that does not recognize the difference between passion and anger; boundaries and walls; order and control; correction and character assault; or intimacy and idolatry. The lines have become so blurred that we demand people conform to us, rather than us adhering to them.
When a Samaritan village refused to accept Jesus, James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples said, do you want us to call down fire on them, like Elijah did? Jesus said, you do not know what spirit you are of! (Luke 9:51-55) Many people do not know what spirit they are of, so they are crossing lines from passion into anger or correction into character assault, not because they meant to, but because they do not discern the spirit they are of. There are invisible lines being crossed in the spirit by many Christians, because the love of many is growing cold, due to the increase of lawlessness (Matthew 24).
We need to discern ourselves more today than ever, has our passion crossed over into anger? Have the boundaries we set, turned into walls? Have we become controlling of others and yet we call it just keeping order? Have we spoke a word of correction that was actually a character assault? Have we entered into an intimate relationship and now it has become an idol? We must discern what spirit we are of, for in the world in which we live, the spirit of anti-Christ will push you over the line and you will not even recognize it, because there are so many fine lines.
Have you ever heard someone speak and you could feel their passion, but you knew they were angry, resentful, hurt, or grinding an axe? Have you ever said something out of frustration, believing it to be passion? Have you ever listened to a song and their talent was evident but their pain was as well? Or do you have no idea what I am talking about? The bible is riddled with sayings that help us to realize there is a fine line between two opposite sources from which information flows. Knowing the source of our statements, will help us to become more effective in our communication.
It doesn’t take long on Social Media, in church or on the job to see someone’s passion, but the more you listen, the more you hear their frustration or pain. Words reveal our hearts and most people don’t listen to themselves, so they cannot discern their own spirits, let alone someone else’s spirit. However, if we are to mature; if we are to be healed; if we are to become more Christlike; we have to be able to discern ourselves and others. For words carry a spirit and if you accept their words, you also get the spirit from which those words came from. So, we need to be very careful who we listen to, for they may sound passionate, but it could be coming from their unhealed pain.
Proverbs 16:32 says “Do you want to be known as a mighty warrior? It is better to be known as one who is patient and slow to anger. Do you want to conquer a city? Rule over your temper, before you attempt to rule a city.” I used to love the warfare stuff, but once I went through the wilderness and allowed the Lord to heal my pain, I realized that just like Proverbs 16 says, warfare can be fuel for pain, more than it is truly passion. Solomon ties being a mighty warrior to being impatient and angry, but most people cannot discern this, because we have been taught to value being a mighty warrior. Solomon goes on to say, our desire to conquer cities, is tied to our inability to conquer our own emotions, which again, he ties to anger. Anger is a protector of pain, so what looks like passion (mighty warrior or conquering a city) can actually be sourced in pain and we don’t realize it.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Without the revelation that comes through the word of God, we cannot discern the source of what we are saying, or what others are saying. In the next move of God, Damon Thompson says, “The Lord is opening up a gate of compassion, for the closer we get to the Lord, the more we will love people and be moved with compassion toward people.” If the source of our communication is not love, it is coming from pain and not passion. Jesus did everything from love and if we have not love, we are nothing. I Corinthians 13:2-3 says, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
The way you can discern if what you or someone else is saying is coming from pain or passion, is to put it through the I Corinthians 13:4-8 love test, for if it’s not from love, it’s not passion, its pain masquerading as passion.
I Kings 2:1- 3 “When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
Men have so much pressure put on them to provide, protect, pamper and not be proud. The world’s idea of what a man is can be related to the title on his door, the car he drives, the way his wife looks, how his body looks, and the list goes on and on. Just look at GQ magazine and you will begin to see the pressure men are under to be what people define as a man. So, often we talk about how hard it is to be a woman and as a woman, I know it is tough, but men struggle with image issues, work pressure, responsibilities as a husband and father, so their load is no lighter than that of a woman as it pertains to trying to measure up. Many feel like they have to be a half human and half spiderman. Then they read in their bible about what God says a godly husband and man looks like and it can become too much to bear.
I am not a man, so I am only speaking based on observations, but what I have found is that men quit trying to be anything because they can’t be everything they are expected to be. We have men that turn to alcohol because they feel like they will never measure up; others turn to pornography in order to get that feeling of self-worth; while yet others turn to apathy, become emotionless, passionless and powerless. My dad has always said, the devil likes to keep us in the ditch, so if he cannot get you in the ditch of arrogance, he will throw you in the ditch of self-pity, but the last place he wants you is on the road of redemption, confidence and contentment. So, men either throw themselves into work and their family suffers or they decide to do nothing and that is exactly what they get, nothing.
I am so thankful the Lord knew what He was doing when He created men. Genesis 1 says that men were created to work the land, so it is a God-given desire that is put within men to work. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, it is He (Yahweh) that gives you the power to produce wealth; men need to work, it is healthy for them to do and in doing so they will prosper in more than just money. However, this is not all they are to do, they are to love their wives and lay their lives down for her as Christ did for the church (Ephesians 5), this is another aspect of his prosperity. Men that love Jesus, who find their worth in the Lord can both work and cherish their wife. Then we add the children into the mix, they need daddy’s time, energy and passion, they need to know daddy works hard as a provider, and loves mommy as a husband. I know the job sounds daunting, but I believe men would come fully alive if they would seek first the kingdom of God, then they would cherish their wife and produce at work in order to prosper in every way.
Staying out of the ditch is the key to prosperity. Too much work is not healthy, too much food is not healthy, too much entertainment is not healthy and men, too much of the evening news or daily newspaper is not healthy. God wants you to prosper in every area of life, so seek Him until you find Him. He longs to meet your need for significance in Him, so you can go out and be significant, not be working to find it. I know as a woman, our greatest desire is a husband that has his worth come from the Lord, because out of this intimate, personal and passionate relationship with God, you will be able to do all that God requires of you. You will come alive in ways you did not know you could. Just keep your priorities right, God (personal relationship with Him though his word and worship) – Family (wife, kids and others) – Work/Ministry (corporate or church) – Everyone else. This is God’s order of things and when we do it HIs way, we succeed in everything we put our hands to do.
Our world needs men of God who know how to find God in the secret place and order their lives according to his commandments. We will see so many challenges disappear, so many marriages revive, and so many children secure, if only men learn from The Man what does it mean to be a man!