It’s so easy to fly off the handle when things go wrong. Sitting in traffic with drivers trying to force their way into your lane. Standing in line while waiting on the person in front of you who is incompetent, inefficient, or both. Losing your job, a new opportunity, or worse, a loved one. It’s easy to love and praise God when things are good, but it’s just as easy to ignore our Christian beliefs in times of trouble. Jesus calls us to be consistent in our love and grace, both with others and ourselves. The standard was set by Him, and it’s our goal to live to that standard, in good times and in bad.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” – Philippians 1:27 NIV
Erma Bombeck had is right when she said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” We allow our lives to be consumed with the stresses and preoccupations of the environment around us. The ‘what if’s’ and ‘what about’s’ can create chaos in our brains, a chatter that places our focus on earthly things, thereby taking our focus away from God. We must remind ourselves daily of all the blessings God has provided us, and how He wants us to have joy in our lives.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 NIV
God divines His will and directs us where He wants us to go. Yet it is up to us to hear his voice and follow this direction. Sometimes there’s too much chatter in our mind to allow us to properly discern what God is telling us. Other times we’re like Jonah, deliberately ignoring God’s call and running away from his commands. Salvation is a gift He gives us, but joy is a result of our giving back to the Lord through obedience.
“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.” – Psalms 112:1 NIV
So many of us live our lives as if we’re a pickup truck commercial; tough, rugged, capable of doing anything on our own. Yet it is God who guides us through it all. We can only go so far by ourselves before getting stuck in the proverbial mud of life. And when we call for help, in humility and sincerity, God’s big rig of love and mercy is there to pull us out. He wants us to want Him.
“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” – Psalms 30:2 NIV
Gordon Gekko, the star character of the 80’s film Wall Street, famously said, “greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.” In an environment of this world, an environment of gratification and self adulation, an environment that is absent of God’s love, this appears to make sense. But God calls us to be disciplined when tempted, and to place our devotion in Him and not in the material possessions or fleeting experiences of this world.
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Colossians 3:5 NLT
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to be rational. To be able to look at a situation with perspective and to understand the nuance that is involved is a clear sign of strength and maturity. We all make mistakes, and we all should learn from those mistakes. It is for that reason we should show patience, grace, and love when we’re impacted by the mistakes of others. They’re in the process of growing as well.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13 NLT
Much of the human condition is working to measure up to some form of standard. Be it our weight, level of education, salary, home; we tend to focus on earthly things. In terms of where we should be and how we should live, we set the bar at a level that is of human determination. Scripture shows us the bar has already been set by God, and we should, in everything we do, work at modeling Christ’s love and honoring the Lord.
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” – 1 Peter 1:15 NIV