Subtlety – the state or quality of being subtle.
Subtle - fine or delicate in meaning or intent; difficult to perceive or understand:
Matthew 10:16 – 20
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men…
We live in a fallen world. Many distractions vie for our attention. Politics, sports, movies, TV. There is so much pulling us in different directions. Satan has been good at slowly changing people’s views on many issues. The use of subtlety and cunning can slowly make one change their views on subjects.
1 Peter 5:8, 9
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kind of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (ESV)
We must be grounded in God’s Word or we’ll be swayed by whims of various fads of the day.
We are constantly told to “pick a side.” If you don’t pick a side, you will usually get hit from both sides. I sometimes feel like I’m told I have to “pick” between being a Pharisee or a Sadducee. I’m constantly trying to find that middle ground where Jesus is, between self-righteousness and worldliness.
I had a conversation with someone one time over the “most spiritual person” he had ever met. Some Buddhist monk had gone up on a hill side when he was 16 and was still there at 60. I told him, “I could be the most spiritual person in the world if I didn’t have to deal with people. But that’s not what Jesus called us to do.”
We are called to be “In the world, but not of the world.”
John 17:1 – 26 Jesus prayer for his disciples.
We are to keep God’s word in our hearts.
1 John 4:20, 21
If you say you love God and hate your brother, you’re a liar.
But God wants us to love even beyond our brothers and sisters.
If you love only those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
I’ll send my son, they’ll listen to him.
People like their power, or prestige, or position that all else fall to the wayside. We want to be right or liked or popular.
Sometimes we trip over our egos. “My team is better than your team. My politics are better than your politics.” We are so eager to WIN we forget to LOVE.
Subtlety can be deceptive. Consider in the garden when the serpent was messing with Eve by casting doubt on God’s word. Eve added to God’s word by adding, “…not to even touch it.”
When we start adding to what God asks of us, we start thinking that we “know good and evil” and miss the simplicity of just having faith in Christ. Faith in Christ saves us. That means we believe what He says. Doing what He says doesn’t save us it just means we believe in Him.
Just because you do good works doesn’t mean you’re saved, but if you’re saved you will do good works.
NOTE: I am not advocating Taoism, but wanted to let you know where I got the concept of Wu-wei from. It is said that a broken clock is right twice a day.
Wu-wei (from Taoism)…to do without doing. This could be the explanation of Love in action. It just “does.” When it is rules and regulations that you follow, it could be without love, and in the eyes of God it means nothing. But, when one just does, because it is a natural flow of who you are, then you are ‘doing unto Jesus as you do unto the least of these.’
Jesus accused the Pharisees of “Knowing the letter of the law, but not the Spirit behind the law.” He accused the Sadducees of “Not knowing scripture.”
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me…
Jesus said there were those who declare, did we not do “many wonders in Your name?” He told them to “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them…”
Matthew 25:31-46 Sheep and Goats.
Well done my good and faithful servant. When I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, in prison…etc. “When did we do these things?”
I Timothy 1:8-9 Laws were not made for the righteous…
Following Christ isn’t about rules and regulations, nor is it about who is worthy of our help or not worthy. Consider the parable about the good Samaritan. Consider the story about the woman at the well. Consider the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19).
Consider the two men praying in the temple. One a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. One bragged on himself. The other humbled himself. (Luke 3: 12-)
What does any of this have to do with subtlety? Subtle changes in attitudes can affect how we see others. It can affect how we treat others. It can justify hatred for one group of people because you don’t agree with them. It can justify violence and hatred.
How do you think Hitler was able to do what he did to the Jewish community without a great uproar of the people? The news media of the time would print anti-Semitic articles and comics. So when they came for the Jews people didn’t worry too much because of what the media said about them.
Look at the attitude that took place the other day after the Las Vegas shooting. A person in the media tweeted that she “had no sympathy for the victims because they were Trump supporting, gun-loving, country music fans.”
One of my favorite bands, Daniel Amos, has a song that says, “You told them exactly what I didn’t say, exactly how I didn’t say it.”
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from the pure devotion to Christ.
Devotion to Christ means devotion to God which leads to devotion to each other.
We lose sight of Christ when we are concerned about our egos, about being right, about keeping our position, prestige or power.
It’s so easy to get caught up in “our sides” and end up straying away from the Word of God. Just because you don’t agree with one thing doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the exact opposite. Example: Capitalism not tempered and guided by God is no better than Communism. Just because someone’s not a supporter of unions, doesn’t mean they are supporters of unbridled capitalism.
When did we lose sight of “love of money is the root of evil?” We spend so much time and effort trying to keep “what is mine,” or maximizing our profit margin, we forget the “least of these.”
Really consider your motives for why you fight any fight.
On the other hand there are those who are so busy demanding that others fork over their money, that they forget God doesn’t want us to make others do what we should be doing ourselves.
Consider Judas. He complained to Jesus about the woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet because “that money could be used for the poor.” Scripture points out that he really wasn’t concerned about the poor. John 12:4-8.
So many people are tossed about by waves of confusion because they don’t have a good relationship with God and His Word.
We constantly told by God, “For they that have ears to hear, let them hear.” Do we listen – listen to God, or listen to those who don’t agree with us? Do we try to take the time to understand?
1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter. Love really doesn’t care what you “feel like.”
Matthew 22: 34-40
Love God, Love your neighbor. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Just because someone disagrees with you, lies about you, slanders you, or spitefully use you doesn’t give you the right to do the same.
Matthew 5: 43-45
Love your enemy, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Love Jesus, listen to Pink Floyd, eat cheesecake...