Monday, July 18, 2011

Use Your Head!

How many times have I heard this phrase over the years?  It also falls on the list of "things I swore I'd never say but yet I did utter those very words!"  I'm beginning to think in this day and age, it's not such a bad thing to say!

I ran across the phrase in The Message paraphrase of Colossians 4:
"Use your head as you live and work among outsiders.  Don't miss a trick.  Make the most of every opportunity.  Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the best in others in conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."
Use your head, be gracious, bring out the best in others, don't put them down-that's some pretty sound advice if you ask me!  Sort of falls along the lines of the old phrase "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar." 

In our day of "instant everything" asking someone to really think seems like a tall order!  It's a critical skill worth cultivating.  Phrases like "think it through", "think before you act", "think before you speak" why do they matter?  They matter because what you say or what you do matters!  You can have a positive impact on your life or someone else's life  Or, you can have a negative impact.  If you want to avoid the negative, then you had better use your head and think it through before you say or do anything!

Thinking is something that Wesley encouraged as well.  One of the church terms that gets used without a lot of explanation is "Wesleyan Quadrilateral".  Simply put, Wesley believed that scripture, tradition, experience and reason are the tools to use on your faith journey.  A life of Holiness is a continual process of engagement not a "check your brain at the door and just do what I tell you" style of living.  Nope!  It involves thinking and doing.  It involves work. 

Wait a second!  We're saved by grace not by works!  (That's what you're thinking, right?)  That statement is absolutely correct.  "Trudy, you just said I have to think and do and work!"  Yes, I did.  On the surface, it may sound like a contradiction, but it's not.  Think of it in terms of your life.  Did you get your diploma, or your job or your house or whatever by hoping or wishing or did you go out, do your homework, come up with a plan and then work towards achieving the goal?  Of course you researched and created a plan and did the work because that is logical!  That's how you achieve goals!    

I've said it before I'll say it again.  Grace is a gift.  It's a gift from God.  In accepting the gift it is understood that you are not going to be the same person you were before!  You're not going to do the same things that you did before!  You are expected to share this gift of grace!  You change and grow inwardly.  That change is then reflected in what you do outwardly!  The change reflects a change in thinking, which leads to a change in how we act towards others.  Rather than discouraging independent thinking, it encourages using your head!

Wesley believed that scripture was God inspired.  Tradition means asking how has this scripture has been consistently interpreted and how does someone else's interpretation line up with the traditional interpretation?  Reason asks "does this make sense?"  Experience shows whether the "latest, greatest" interpretation pans out in the real world.  Bottom line, it matches perfectly with what Paul was saying about using your head!  God is not asking us to sit back and let someone else give us the answers.  God is encouraging us to think and to act! 

How do I help and encourage others?  What can I do to bring out the best in myself, my family, my church, my community?  These are the sorts of questions you start asking on your faith journey.  The God inspired ideas start coming.  Work becomes a joy because your hands reflect the ideas in your head which reflect the change in your heart! 

So let's all use our heads!  That's what the good Lord made it for! 

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