Tommy would have nothing of compromise. He wanted chocolate, and he wanted it now. Not after lunch or after dinner, or even after breakfast. He wanted chocolate at eight in the morning. And not just chocolate cereal or chocolate chip pancakes. No, Tommy wanted a candy bar. I tried to reason with him, but instead he threw a tantrum. I banished him to his room. His crying soon died down, and a few minutes later, I felt a tug on my leg. Tommy looked up at me with a sad face and big eyes. "cawots?" I laughed as I picked him up in a bear hug. I gave him a carrot stick along with his eggs and cheese. What a lesson in contrast.
The Bible is full of contrasts, and just like a whiny toddler who suddenly turns into a cuddle bug, many of these contrasts can be found within the same person. Sometimes we tend to focus on only one, either the good or bad example. But how many times do we focus on both at the same time?
Take Adam and Eve. They were first an example of perfection. Then, they became an example of sin and the ultimate price of free will.
David was an example of the cost of lust. He ordered a man killed so he could have more of what he already had, when this man only had one. But he is also called a man after God's own heart. In the Psalms, David gives examples of his frustration and sometimes even anger at God, but also his praise for God, often in the same psalm.
"O God, why have You rejected us forever?
Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?" (Psalm 74:1 NASB)
"Yet God is my king from of old,
Who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth." (Psalm 74:12 NASB)
Even Christ, though He never sinned, can be an example of both positive and negative behaviors, at least as seen by the people with whom he interacted. While it was a righteous anger, I don't think those selling goods at the temple appreciated Jesus' method of getting them out. Nor do I think the Pharisees appreciated being compared to "whitewashed tombs." Even on the cross, He may have appeared weak and defeated to many, as they taunted Him to save Himself and come down from the cross. Yet staying on the cross was actually the ultimate example of strength, and an even greater example of love, even to those he cast out of the temple and the Pharisees.
The contrast in Paul's life, first as an example of someone who hated Christians, then as the most prominent Christian of his day, even warranted his name to be changed. Saul means "asked for" or "prayed for" in Hebrew. Could it be that when Saul was converted, what was "prayed for" had been fulfilled, thus making this name change necessary? Paul means "small" or "humble" in Latin, and Paul was certainly humble about his conversion. In I Timothy 1:15 (NASB) he says "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." He certainly did not think he deserved to be saved.
Maybe looking at the contrasts in Biblical characters will make it easier for us to deal with contrasting behaviors in our own lives and the lives of those we love.
Tommy finished his carrots and eggs and cheese. A few hours later, when I knew he wouldn't see it as a reward for his behavior, I called Tommy in for a snack. Sitting on his plate was that sought after chocolate bar. His eyes once again grew wide. "Chochwate! Tanks, Mom!" He nearly knocked me over with his bear hug.
*Illustration at beginning and end is fictional.
Genesis 2-3 (NASB)
2 Samuel 11 (NASB)
Acts 13:22 (NASB)
Matthew 21:12-13 (NASB)
Matthew 23:27 (NASB)
Matthew 27:39-40 (NASB)
Acts 9 (NASB)
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