We are in no position to judge the people around us, they are no different than anyone else in God’s eyes; no better, no worse. We all sin, we are all separated from God and Jesus died to save us all. It is not our job to pick and choose who comes into God’s kingdom, who is good enough to get the invitation based on our preferences or even on their behavior. The price paid was much too high for us to do so. Think of Paul and all he accomplished for Christ. What if Ananias had refused to obey God and show Paul the way because he didn’t think Paul deserved the gift of salvation with everything he had done? The entire world would probably look a whole lot different today. Don’t only think of the bad someone has done, consider all the good they could do for the Lord someday.
We are all eager to believe the best about ourselves. None of us wants to admit fault or impure motives even when they are clearly there. Society wants us to believe that people are inherently good as well. But we aren’t. Inside we are all the same- dark and full of sin. That is why Christ had to come and die, so we had the option to have our sinful hearts replaced with clean ones so we could be made right with him. All we have to do is ask! But if we claim we are inherently good and do not sin, then we are not only calling God a liar but we are labeling Jesus’ sacrifice as worthless, a waste of time. Such a stance is only lying to ourselves, it accomplishes nothing and leaves us in a pit of despair. God has promised to forgive EVERYTHING, no matter how big it may be, and to make us pure! Admit sin, ask forgiveness. It really is that easy.
Truly encountering Christ is not something that you keep to yourself, treasured only in your heart. It should be something that changes you, flows out of you, permeates every aspect of your life so that you can’t help but to joyfully spill it out to others. The love of God is not something to keep to ourselves, we should want more than anything else for others to experience it too. It’s too incredible not to share! The grace and peace and joy that accompanies knowing Him should be such that we want every person we meet to know how it feels & therefore we seize every oppertunity to share what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard, what we’ve felt, what we know so that they can experience it along with us.
Serving God and his people isn’t something we should try to squeeze in when we have the free time so that we can feel better about ourselves or because we’ve been guilted into it. It is something we need to be doing constantly and willingly. We should be conscious of other believers, especially those in leadership. Try to stay in touch to what they are doing, what is happening in their lives, give them someone to talk to, pray for them, if they have needs then do what you can to meet them, encourage them through difficult times. Not only that, but don’t put down others who are busy serving the Lord, don’t discourage them or judge their motives. If they are working hard at it then join in, become part of the work and be blessed by it rather than opposing it and being responsible for the negative fallout that comes from a negative attitude.
In my head I see news clips from Black Fridays past when I read this scripture. Someone stands facing the wide open door, beyond which are wonderful things they are so excited to discover, but between them and the door are hoards of people opposing their way; unmoving, shoving, insulting, whatever. There is an open door in front of us too, with wonderful things waiting beyond it. Do we want to experience it badly enough to FIGHT THROUGH the opposition? We certainly should. Too many of us, myself included, tend to take the easier path- to stay at home and avoid the difficulty. On Black Friday that may be wise but not so much in our Christian walk. How much do we miss out on because we refuse to fight our way through that door? There will always be people in our paths that are against us, especially when we are working for Christ. We cannot let them shove us off of our path, or drive us away. Instead, we should look at them as a type of affirmation to the good work we are doing, a way to confirm we are doing something to further God’s kingdom on earth and the enemy wants it stopped or worse, he wants to dishearten you so that you abandon all efforts to do good and never step into the destiny God has called you to. Take heart & fight your way through the opposition- the door is open wide!
Don’t get distracted, try hard to keep from nibbling at the buffet table the world sets before you and focus instead on the plan God has laid out for your life. Pay attention, look for the ways He is working around you each day and ask him how you can further that work, actually listen for the answer. Don’t just go through the motions of being a follower of Christ, put your mind into it along with your body and your heart. Don’t degrade or downplay the work you do for God and don’t let others either. However trivial it might seem, it still means something, it shows you are willing to be obedient even when you will receive no acclaim for doing so, & God uses all things for his glory. What you consider trivial can lead to something more than we could have ever imagined. Work done for our Lord is NEVER IN VAIN.
“But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”
1 Corinthians 14:3, 9 NLT
The words from our mouths should be used for good, to strengthen, give hope, give comfort, to build up the church & the people of God. But we must speak to people genuinely, BRING IT TO THEIR LEVEL. Don’t try to show them how smart we are or how much more we know than them. Don’t throw out a lot of words that they don’t understand so that they are duly impressed. If people cannot understand what we are telling them then our words, our time, and theirs have all been wasted.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
Our message, our actions, all our knowledge and understanding, none of it will mean anything to anyone if they are given out of the wrong motivations of our hearts. People will NEVER LISTEN to what you have to say, or be touched by our actions (giving, serving, etc.) if we are there out of a sense of obligation, an air of superiority, or a hostile temperament. Do these things; speak to people, spread the message of Christ through words and actions, out of love because you not only know the risks they face should they never know him but you desperately want to prevent them from having to suffer them. Be desperate to save them, love them not for who they are themselves but for the child that our Father created and longs to bring home.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other…..It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-13 NLT abbr.
Every Christian worships the same God and the gifts he gives to each of us contribute to the whole of the church. We should not be taking sides against one another because some do things differently than others. The hand does not have the same function as the foot, nor the heart the same function as the eye. If one of those were to try to be like the other than nothing would work as it should. Each part is necessary for the proper function of the body! We must UNITE, we are allies in a dangerous war against a common enemy with everything at stake! Taking sides against our own, putting a brother/sister down rather than building them up, bickering amongst ourselves, factioning off, judging one another- these things only serve to distract us from the Lord and from the mission he has given us, they hinder us from walking out our purpose. If you are working against your Lord’s purpose then who are you really serving?
“Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT
This world is so full of selfishness, every person going about their lives concerned only for the things they want. Marriage is being destroyed because two separate people refuse to bend and let go of something they want, what they think they deserve, even for someone they ‘love’. Love your neighbor as yourself has been forgotten almost entirely even as the world gets caught up in ideals and causes- social justice warriors abound and yet we neglect to care for the people beside us right now. We refuse to sacrifice even a little of our own comfort to actually walk out a little of what we claim to believe. This seems to be a universal human failure that covers Christians and non-Christians alike. In this incredible country there are few people who do not genuinely have something to spare for another. Truth be told most all of us have more than we need, but we close our eyes to the desperate needs of others because the newest iPhone was just released and we have to have it, or that bag is just too good of a deal to pass up. Selfishness is a POISON to our soul, to our relationships, to business & society, and most importantly to the spreading of God’s word. We cannot lose our perspective, people matter more than things. They are not something to be used, they are not there to be stepped upon or kicked to make us feel a little better. Happiness cannot be attained by chasing self-serving interests. These pursuits will only leave a bitter taste in your mouth and an emptiness in your soul. Build others up, encourage them, support them, find pride and joy in their accomplishments, genuinely care. The best way for us to heal rifts, to fight racism, to care for our planet, to decrease crime rates, or fix any of the other causes that people rally behind, is to bring love for one another back into the world. Not romantic love, not blind acceptance of all behaviors, but real love. The kind of love that is doing rather than feeling. The love that is patient, kind, persistent, hopeful & enduring. It is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Real love is not self seeking or easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs done to it. That is the kind of love we need. We can and must CURE this pandemic of selfishness that spreads quicker and more thoroughly than any disease and is just as corrupting. Imagine if Jesus had thought selfishly about going to the cross! He would have liked to have another way, he pleaded with God to take the task from him if it was possible because he knew the sacrifice that lay before him. But he cared more for our eternity than he did about the temporary suffering he would endure. He is the example we are called to follow and that may mean sacrificing some of our own comfort, or money, or time, or love. So be it.
~May the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace today!