God, In Triplicate

A couple of years back, I believe, I wrote at Fresh Start about the significance of God showing us something in His Word two or three times in a single verse or passage. If it’s in the Bible, it’s important. If it’s there two or three times in one reading, He doesn’t want you to miss it. The same is true if he shows you something three times from separate sources. That happened to me this morning. God showed me three different devotionals on envy during my quiet time, two of them back-to-back. In those two, He showed me this passage:

…rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. 2 Corinthians 2:7-9 (NIV)

So often in life we want what others have. Jesus literally had it all and surrendered it for us. He then drove the point home with this:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:13-16 (NIV)

Now comes the difficult part: searching my heart and finding what God wants me to purge. Make no mistake, it’s a blessing when He is so obvious with what He is trying to tell us. It was difficult because envy isn’t a sin I felt I was struggling with. I, of course, was wrong and God was, of course, right.

As I scoured my heart, I found anger, resentment and bitterness. But they were just the toxic fruit growing from the tree of envy. And I needed to tear it out by its roots. In case you haven’t guessed it, this Fresh Start isn’t really about envy. It’s about not ignoring the neon signs God sends us in His Word.

I could have written off the three references to envy as coincidence. Instead, I took them seriously. And the Spirit then showed me what God was pointing to. What about you?

What flashing signs has God shown you in His Word that is pointing to toxic fruit in your heart? Maybe it’s envy, or lust, or anger. Maybe it’s some of these and more. Don’t shy away when God uses His word to reveal them to you. Thank Him and respond. Yes, I found it difficult. You will too. But trust me, you’ll still want to thank Him.

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI.

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