What Would Jesus Do?


thMTNFT8A1I would like to consider myself a “good Christian”. Why do I think of myself as a good Christian? Well, I go to church every Sunday. I give my time and resources to the church and other ministries. I read my bible. I pray. I participate in Bible studies. I have gone on mission trips. Man, I really AM a good Christian. If God were passing out special rewards, surely I would get one!

Now before you start thinking “who does this chick think she is?!”, please know that I am truly just kidding. I’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that my “good works” do not earn me any special rewards or get me extra brownie points with God.

He loves us because He loves us. Period. The truth is that right now I’m NOT doing many of the things I listed. But whatever I do, it’s in response to what God has already done for me through His forgiveness and the gift of salvation. However I choose to honor God is simply a reasonable response of worship to my Lord and Savior.

thN0QHBRQN (2)I also know that anything I do is like filthy rags if my motive is wrong, according to scripture (Isaiah 64:6), because my Christian activities do not help me earn my righteousness.

I need Jesus more and more every day and I became painfully aware of that fact the other day when God revealed to me my own selfishness.

Let me ask you this before I share what happened. This is a  quick little test to see if you are being like Christ – how do you respond when asked to give of yourself (time, energy, resources) to something of which you have nothing to gain and no interest in. Do you act selflessly when someone asks you for help for something that’s important to them but means nothing to you?

Are you willing to give when you have nothing to gain? Or do you try to make excuses as to why you can’t help? If you do decide to help, is it with reluctance? Do you only help because you feel like you have to or you’d feel guilty if you didn’t?

This was my test God threw my way the other day. I was put into a situation where the condition of my heart was tested. I had to decide in the moment if I was going to do something that I didn’t “feel” like doing. I had nothing to gain by giving of my time and it was something that meant nothing to me. But it was important to the person who asked for my help. I said no. I selfishly chose to decline the opportunity to be all that I say I want to be as a Christ follower. I failed.

thUABT9KZCI find myself spending time thinking I’m doing pretty good but then it only takes a moment to see how desperately I need my Savior. My lesson learned is to never get comfortable. Never begin to think that it’s enough. Nothing I do will ever be enough in return for what Christ has done for me. And anything I do means nothing if in the moment I choose myself over others simply because I have nothing to gain from them.

This world we live in teaches us to look out for number one, to take what you can get and that everyone else is out to get you. Don’t do for others because they’ll just end up using you and expecting more. We have become cynical and desensitized to doing things for those who can never repay us. We are unwilling to give of ourselves unless there’s something in it for us, and that’s in direct contrast to God’s word.

So  what did I do after I realized I had failed? First, I repented of my attitude and my selfishness. And now, I just keep on keeping on. I try each day to be more like Christ by spending time in His word and in prayer. I keep in mind how desperate I am for more of Him. And I wait. Because I know it won’t be long before the opportunity comes again to do something for someone who can do nothing for me in return.

And in the meantime, I pray that in that moment, I will seek God’s strength to overcome my weaknesses so I can be sure not to fail again.

 

Advertisements

Souled Out


th (2)Have you ever thought about how many choices you make in a day? Think about that for just a minute – we wake up and choose what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether to exercise or not, what we’ll listen to on the radio on our way to work or school, what TV shows we’ll watch, how we’ll spend our time, which movie we’ll see at the theater. We make a lot of choices every day. Some of those choices are simple, cut and dry decisions. But others have an effect on us that we may not even realize. Many times as Christians, when we are faced with a choice, we are choosing whether or not to compromise our beliefs, values and morals.

Now that you’re thinking about the compromises you’ve made (maybe today, maybe this week, maybe over your lifetime), what do you think those compromises have cost you? Sometimes it’s obvious. For instance, today I chose to skip my workout. What does that cost me? Well, I could look at it a couple of ways. Today, it doesn’t cost me too much. So, I didn’t work out……there’s always tomorrow, right? But what if I compromise tomorrow too? What if I compromise for the rest of the week? What if those “little” compromises continue indefinitely? Over the long term it can cost me a lot, like good health, energy, confidence, money lost for prepaid classes, possible new friends that I could have made had I gone to work out, ability to build on a good decision to exercise because one good decision typically leads to another. You see, we tend to look at the momentary costs without seeing the big picture.

Bad-ChoicesSo let’s talk about choices that have much bigger implications. The kind that if we choose to compromise, they affect our soul. What if money gets tight and you decide (just this once) to not tithe on your paycheck so you can get caught up. Then you have car trouble and have to pay $200 to get it fixed so you don’t tithe the next paycheck so you can cover the unexpected expense. And then what if something else goes wrong and your spending snowballs and you have to quit tithing just to keep up with the bills?

Or, what if you’ve been dating a guy for a long time and the two of you love each other and have talked openly about getting married? And what if one night he asks you to compromise your decision to wait until marriage? In the moment you’re thinking “we’re going to get married anyway.” And then a few weeks later you find out he’s been cheating on you and you end the relationship. What do you think those compromises cost your soul?

Maybe you’ve made some bad decisions in the past that have had an impact on your soul. Maybe right now you’re making a daily choice to do something that is slowly causing damage that you may not even realize. Sometimes we know there will be consequences to our choices. But what if we don’t realize that the choice we’re making in the moment is truly hurting us? How are we supposed to know what to do and how to make the right decisions without paying the high cost of negative consequences?

th4KSDOQMZHere’s the great part – God didn’t just leave us on our own to figure it all out. As believers, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who is our Helper and our Counselor in our times of need. In those moments when we are facing the choice to compromise or not, He is there to guide us in that decision if we’ll simply ask. He will also convict us when we’ve already made the choice to compromise so that we can stop whatever we’re doing that is damaging our soul.

God also gave us His word as an instruction manual so we’ll know the kind of things that can hurt us that we may have been unaware of. We don’t have to figure this out on our own. There are options and safeguards in place to keep us from the consequences of compromise and that is most definitely good news!

But what if you are already suffering the consequences of compromises from your past? God can bring healing where damage has already occurred. Ask Him through prayer to heal the hurts in your soul caused by bad decisions. Ask Him to give victory over the defeats of your past then trust in His power to heal you.

So, my question is, what compromises are you making that may seem like no big deal? And the bigger question is what are those “small” compromises really costing you? And finally –  what are you going to do about it?

Nobody Likes a Bad Ending


IMG_1951I recently read the book Gone Girl. I could not put the book down no matter how hard I tried. I was consumed with the fast paced drama and the unexpected twists and turns. It was a page turner like no other until the LAST FOUR PAGES! I finished the book and then just sat there in disbelief. How could a book so good end so bad? I don’t think I’ve ever been angry over how a book ended. Disappointed maybe, but angry? I was so mad I vowed never to watch the movie. Ever. It’s been weeks since I finished that book and I’m still not over it. Why? Because I don’t like a bad ending.

The truth is that I am not alone. Nobody likes bad endings – unresolved conflicts, unforgiveness in relationships, broken marriages, failed pregnancies, unhealed hurts, heartbreaks and unanswered questions. We don’t like any of it. We long for everything to be wrapped up nice and tidy with a bow on it. We want everything to end on high note but all too often things just don’t end the way we want them to. So why is it that bad endings seem to bother us so very much?

We were never meant to be comfortable with a bad ending. God created us to long for the happy ending. We were designed to be dissatisfied with the undesirable, the unfinished and the unhappy endings of our lives. We are wired to yearn for all to be right in the world. That’s why people cheer when the underdog wins. That’s why we love to see the guy get the girl at the end of the movie – the one that he didn’t stand a chance with. That’s why we cry when we read stories of redemption, forgiveness and restoration. That’s why ‘Unbroken’ is a box office smash at the movies right now. We want to see others and ourselves overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles we face in life. We crave the happy ending.

159764a32101a639cb65dd81b01fe02fSo what does this mean for those of us in the midst of struggles. Those whose happy ending is nowhere in sight? We are to put our trust in the One who is the author of happy endings. God did not create us to suffer. However, we are sinners living in a sin-filled world where suffering exists. But our endings do not have go according to the enemy’s plan. Our endings can go according to God’s plan when we put our trust in Him. Does that mean that everything will turn out A-ok? Sometimes. But sometimes it simply means that we can have peace even when it all doesn’t turn out according to our plan. So how can we have peace when we’re in the middle of a bad ending? When we have faith that we haven’t reached the end of our story yet.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: “Not everything in life has a happy ending. But this life is not the end of the story.” The peace we find in the middle of our bad ending is knowing that it’s not the end. No matter how our story in this life ends, it’s not the final ending to our story. As Christians going through impossible circumstances, that is the best news we can hear right now. Our story doesn’t end with whatever hand we are dealt this side of heaven. Our story ends when we are called home to be with our Lord and Savior. And friends, our story ends well.