We hear all the time about the importance of being positive. True enough, we see it in the Scriptures.
“Joy” is a fruit of the spirit. Paul said
Galatians 5:22 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
He said it again about his own sufferings.
2 Corinthians 7:4 4Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.
He even found “pleasure” in suffering.
2 Corinthians 12:10 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
How could he say it? Where was the pleasure in suffering? It was the joy AHEAD that God had promised.
2 Corinthians 4:17 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Paul saw the long-term benefit. The suffering of a moment compared to an eternal weight of glory? Where was the comparison! He said it again to the Romans:
Romans 8:18 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
It was not even worthy of being compared, the difference was so vast.
He said it again:
Romans 5:3–5 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
In that age Paul and others had the power of the Holy Spirit from God, which we do not have.
Why did Paul say the love of God was poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit? Just realize what that gift of Holy Spirit power meant to them. That power was a foretaste, a downpayment, a pledge from God, a visible [to them] guarantee that God was able to fulfill His promise. It was “the earnest” of their inheritance. Paul said:
Ephesians 1:13–14 13In Him you also trusted, … in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14[which] is the guarantee [the arrabon] of our inheritance
By giving them the Holy Spirit, God was certifying that He could and would perform what He had promised, that just as surely He would deliver the FULL salvation He had promised, the redemption of our mortal bodies, when the time is right.
No question, Paul was positive about the future reward. He had every reason to be positive about it, and he let his joy be known. This surety changed many a negative in his life into a positive because came the surety that God would be with him in his sufferings, and that nothing, absolutely NOTHING could keep him from receiving the crown of life.
But we still have the question. Granted that many negative situations can be turned to good, what about the rest that are indescribably negative? What can we make or expect of them?Can these negative situations make for POSITIVE GOOD?
The surprising answer is YES!
Actually, we need negative to balance us, i.e., to keep us right side up. It’s a system of logic that holds steadier on the road of life than too much satisfaction.
Too positive means too optimistic.
1- Too optimistic results in low level of motivation to improve.
2- Too optimistic is asking for trouble. If you believe you’re at less risk for things to go wrong than other people, yes, you are asking for trouble. That is what the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day were saying:
Jeremiah 23:17 17 They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace” ’; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ”
3- Too optimistic says you are safe when you’re not
Jeremiah 5:12 12 They have lied about the Lord, And said, “It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, Nor shall we see sword or famine.
Negative can be good. The negative alerts us that we need to be more attentive, detailed, and cautious.
Negative experiences can move us to act more fairly toward others.
Five positive NEGATIVES:
1- A negative is positive if it alerts us to danger
Luke 21:34–35 34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Why the snare? Because they are too positive that all is well! They will not be looking for danger. (Maybe they will think they have experienced everything possible with Covid-19?)
2- A negative is positive if it prepares us for fight-or-flight—could be life-saving.
What if we are hurt by a negative experience in Babylon? It is a motivator for fight or flight! We want OUT—socially, emotionally, spiritually.
Revelation 18:4 4And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
If we are part of Babylon, we will go down with it. Just like the people who had no interest in escaping from Sodom, even when given the opportunity.
3- A negative is positive if we learn from it.
Job learned from his sufferings. At the conclusion of his parable he said,
Job 42:3–6 3You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
Nothing like the real experience! The Psalmist was viewing his sufferings honestly and as God-guided when he said,
Psalm 119:71 71It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
4- A negative is positive if it motivates us to prevent trouble.
Whereas positive feelings can be DE-motivating. What did Haggai say?
Haggai 1:7 7Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
Consider, discern, watch, ponder.
Discerning decisionmakers cut their risks by thinking in advance, thinking before acting, thinking before making a decision.
Good moods may come with substantial risk, like sapping your drive, dimming your attention to detail, and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish.
Being positive can remove caution.
Positive feelings are useful and help us thrive ONLY IF we keep them under control. That is why Solomon wrote:
Ecclesiastes 7:2 2Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 5It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
5- A negative is a positive if it provokes us to good works.
Without negative experience’s hard work and belief, one cannot accomplish the work required for the Kingdom.
Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The task is not easy, and Life is filled with opportunities to learn and grow. Who hasn’t been in an embarrassing situation? How we respond determines our growth. Remember––
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Instead of being embarrassed, be glad for the warning. Sometimes we need to feel the careless mistake, or the negligence to duty. But pride makes the sting harder to bear and a haughty spirit hastens the fall. If we fail to take heed and be more alert and work harder, we are headed for destruction. Own up to our errors and be sympathetic with others. Then when we fall we will find a softer landing and helping hands to help us up again.