Proportional Response

There is an episode of West Wing where President Bartlett is discussing a response to some type of national aggression. His advisors recommend several courses of action that are considered “proportional responses.” The idea beyond their recommendation was that the fictional government should respond in kind to the act that was committed against them. Whatever course was decided should be mitigated by the actions which preceded it.

I have been thinking a lot lately about proportional responses as I have reflected on the events of any given day. As I consider what has happened in my life, and my reaction to it, I keep thinking “I have a lot of reasons to be grateful, and very few reasons to complain.” As this mantra has gone through my mind, it has reminded me whatever challenges I face, the bigger challenges have already been taken care of. In His great kindness and mercy God has saved me from my sins. He has redeemed me, and called me to be a part of the work that He has doing. In His graciousness He has provided enough food for me to eat, a roof over my head, and a family to love. Regardless of what has occurred, these things remain true. Therefore, even as there are difficulties and frustrations along the way, my heart is learning to be conditioned towards gratefulness. I may not have all that I desire, but I have more than I need or deserve. The “proportional response” to this is thanks.

Of course, there is no guarantee that apart from my salvation, that I will continue to have all these things. And I know that some reading this post may find themselves in situations where they lack some of the blessings I have articulated above. But even if God should take away all my earthly treasures, He would have still given His Son to die on a cross for me. While my overwhelming response to the circumstances of my life should be one of thanks, my gratitude is not predicated on the conditions I face on any given day. I have Christ; He is all I need. And if all I have is Him, I am grateful.

In international conflict a “proportional response” recognizes what has happened and what should be done in kind.  In the Christian life, a “proportional response” recognizes all that has been given, and the debt that we owe.  When the debt is great, and yet has been forgiven, the proportional response is thankfulness, regardless of what else may occur.


Continue Reading

Strength, Trust and Contentedness


I can do all things through him with strengthens me. – Phil 4:13 (ESV)

This familiar verse has been used on everything from greeting cards to wall signs to a rallying cry for sports team. People tend to like this verse because it inspires them to “be all that they can be.” Yet people generally forget to look at the preceding verses. Immediately before Paul writes about his reliance on Christ to do “all things” he writes about the fact that he has learned to be content in all circumstances (v. 11-12). The focus of Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians wasn’t on his ability or capacity; instead he wanted to remind them that regardless of what situation they faced – whether they had plenty or were in need, whether they were weak or they were strong – they can be confident in Christ’s provision and could rely on Him to accomplish His purposes.

This is not an easy thing to do. Often times, it is easier to look at what we are capable of, conjure up our courage, and to try to overcome obstacles. And while all of these things may be needed, what is needed first is a reliance on Christ. Christ is the One at work; we are His instruments to accomplish His purposes. What we should mediate on when we think of this verse is the One who strengthens us, not the person that He is strengthening.

This should give us great hope. As we ponder our future, we can depend on God to give us all that we need to accomplish what He has called us to do.  As we consider His purposes for our lives, we can delight in all He is able to do through hearts that are devoted to Him. And whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, we can be content in the One who is able to transform that circumstance for the purposes of His Kingdom.


Continue Reading
1 2 3 52