Craving an upright lifestyle

What matters to God? What makes Him happy? What makes Him sad? If He had a top ten list of things He’s cared about, what would be on it? I think a lot of people spend a lot of time searching for God’s will when the answer to finding it is right in front of them. If we want to know what God expects from us, He’s told us. The Bible is full of instruction on how to live and what God expects. And we need to start living the way He says before we can begin to question His will.

And one of those things He expects is living right. It’s everywhere in Scripture. God expects us to do the right thing. We’re supposed to live righteous, justly, set apart, holy, peculiar lives. We’re supposed to be different, but, like everything else in our lives, it starts with attitude.

Mountain stream at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Mountain stream at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:6.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.

That word justice there really means righteousness or uprightness or right standing with God, according to the Amplified Version. I wanted to clarify that because you could read this verse and instantly think that we’re supposed to desire justice like a vigilante. If our lives were to be devoted to justice, that would change a lot of things, but that’s not what this verse means. We don’t understand justice–not really, because none of us are truly just. So how can we be devoted to an ideal that we don’t understand?

So Jesus isn’t telling us to run out and kill others in His name, whether you think you need to kill an individual or shoot up an abortion clinic. We are supposed to desire righteousness and desiring righteousness is personal. It’s an attitude. It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle.

We need to love doing the right thing so much that we crave it.

It’s harder and harder to do the right thing, though. And this statement goes beyond just doing right; we’re supposed to think right too. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who love Christ and follow Him. It’s difficult enough to do the right thing in a group of believers; it’s so much harder to do the right thing in a group of people who don’t understand your worldview.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t associate with people who believe differently. Not at all. That’s the opposite of how we’re supposed to live. Shutting ourselves away from the world is wrong. But when it comes to those close, influential friendships in your life, if you want to continue to follow Christ, you need to choose friends who will draw you closer to Him. If you allow people who believe differently into that close inner circle, you’ll fall away from God. Maybe you tell yourself you won’t, but it’s inevitable. Why? Because it’s much more difficult to hunger and thirst for righteousness when you are hungering and thirsting for something else.

Righteousness isn’t our default.

Craving an upright lifestyle isn’t natural to us. Maybe it was supposed to be before Adam and Eve sinned. I don’t know. But now we’re born with an innate desire to do wrong, and we have to teach ourselves and build healthy habits to seek God and live the way He wants us to. You don’t have to teach a child to do wrong; they just do it anyway.

I’m so thankful for Christ. That’s why the verse can say we will be satisfied if we desire righteousness because through Christ we have right standing with God. Through Christ, we are justified. Through Christ, we are considered righteous. So there’s nothing we can do that will take that righteousness away from us if we’ve accepted it–even if we don’t live like it. But if you don’t live like it, you’re not going to be satisfied.

Right living matters to God. If it didn’t, He wouldn’t talk about it all the time. Doing the right thing, making wise choices, living the way the Bible says in every area, matters to God–whether it’s your thought life or your friendships or marriage or work or church. Whatever. The Bible is our guide to right living, and if we do what it says, we’ll be satisfied. God doesn’t forget and He doesn’t ignore. If it feels like a sacrifice to do the right thing, do it anyway because God will make it worth it. Maybe you don’t feel He will, but He will.

So if you know what the Bible says, do it. If you don’t know what the Bible says, find out and then do it. And the more you do the right thing, the easier it will be, because God will prove Himself to you. You just have to let Him and you have to open your eyes long enough to see it.

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4 Comments

  1. amy, most days i adore reading your words. sometimes i nod, sometimes i giggle, sometimes i feel compassionate about whatever it is of which you speak. today, though, it’s one of those posts i struggle with ……. on the one hand you talk about how it’s wrong to shut ourselves away from the world. but on the other (?), you write of the possible ill effects of letting those who believe differently than you into your “circle”. i gotta say — this makes me shudder. how are “others”, who may not yet know about the grace of God and the gift of Christ, supposed to learn if those who already know don’t welcome these strangers into their circles of life, to show them examples, to be a light and a role model, to gently and kindly help them find their way to the Word — not to brow beat for being different or having different beliefs and not to ignore them, but to embrace them and remind them God loves us all. if you’re strong and certain in your faith, which i believe you are, “other influences” cannot pull you away it!! if anything, it just sets your bar higher! seeing the opposite of what you strive to uphold should/could/would — if you let it — intensify and embolden what you stand for. is it easier to hole up with those like-minded and sharing the same world-view? sure. but i doubt that’s what God’s looking for from us. He seems more a “so what if it’s hard?” kind of guy to me. just my two cents, and maybe that’s all it’s worth… you’re striking on one of the fundamental callings of Christians … and the reason I sometimes get frustrated beyond belief — figuratively and literally — by so-called well-intentioned Christians. i love ya, girl, i really do and i agree with you about the importance and the imperative of “attitude”. but today, i just ain’t so hip with yours. so it goes…

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  2. Hey, Joni. I’m always thankful for your input on these things, and I certainly didn’t intend to communicate that we should shut people out our browbeat then for not believing in Christ. I have very good friends who don’t believe. I spend time with people who don’t believe. And I love them all and try to show them how much God loves them. We are meant to be a light to the world, and we can’t do that if we close ourselves off. … But I don’t believe that we can live life closely with people who don’t know Christ and not be affected. Similarly, even if it’s a fellow believer who isn’t interested in living for God, that’s not someone who you allow deep into your life. Whether it’s missionary dating or not, our friends affect who we are and who we will become. Iron sharpens iron. That’s all I’m saying. I know too many Christians who have filled their lives with relationships that pull them away from God to believe that our inner circle of friends have no affect on us. Please don’t think I’m being an isolationist. If we don’t reach out to the world why are we here? If we never have our faith challenged we will never grow. But at the same time we need to be cautious about who we allow into our lives. And that is true whether you’re a Christian or not. I love you back, Joni. I’m sorry if I communicated an “attitude” about this. That’s the last thing I feel.

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  3. Amy — no apology necessary! Part of the whole “Iron sharpens Iron” thing is to challenge what awesome people like you put out there. That’s all I was doing. And honestly, you did a MUCH better job explaining yourself in your response than in the original post. Few more cups o’ coffee and lo and behold……. I totally get that, sister!! I agree about being cautious — to a degree. Maybe I’m a fence rider on this one, I don’t know. Part of me has allowed seemingly wonderful “Christians” into my most inner of inner circles and wound up feeling battered and bruised and used and lost by the end of friendship. Then there are others, who may or may not have a “relationship” with Christ and who may or may not be open and willing to talking about one, who blow me away with their compassion and humility and love for others — their spirituality, despite not assigning Christ as the one influencing their lives. That’s cool. And lovely. And I see it more and more and am fascinated and humbled and moved and energized and inspired by it. By them — spiritual folks who sometimes shudder when I talk about the Big Guy, but who live lives as if He was their guide. And as for the seekers and searchers and contemplators and skeptics and questioners of the world — I love ’em!! Especially when I get to see and hear them dig in. They want to know, they don’t claim to have answers .. and often, not even questions, but they align with a higher power, they are awed by the simplest little things in nature, and they don’t have any High Horse to climb on. I’ll take a wide-eyed, not-sure-what-I-believe-in person over a narrow-eyed, lookin’ down their nose “Christian” any day of the week and six times on Sunday, as they say… I’m not tossing you in the pool!! I’m just saying our little discussion here reminds me of how I feel about .. well, all this.

    Write on, my friend!! 🙂

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    1. Joni, no worries. I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t come on too strong. I have totally been there too. The people who have hurt me the most in my life have been Christians, although I wouldn’t trade those hurtful experiences for anything now because they helped me grow. I am constantly amazed at the humility and kindness of people who don’t follow Christ, and it’s a good lesson for me to remember. Because if someone who doesn’t love Jesus can be so kind to others, what the heck is my problem? =) I’m 100% for reaching out to those seekers, skeptics, questioners, etc. Those folks have opened my eyes to my own prejudices in more ways than one, and I’m thankful for them. But maybe this is just me, but I’m a very private person with my close personal relationships. It takes a very long time for me to open up to people, mostly because of how often I’ve been hurt. But I’ve learned the hard way that letting anyone into my life on a deep, close friendship level will affect the way I see the world and the people in it. True, no matter whether they profess to know Christ or not, everything they say should be filtered through the Bible, just like everything I say to them should be. But as strong of a person as I am in my faith, sharing my life that deeply with someone who doesn’t believe that God’s way is the only way will affect my thinking. That’s a truth that’s depicted over and over and over throughout Scripture. As we’ve both already said, it comes down to attitude, because you can be the “holiest” Christian around, but if your attitude isn’t focused on serving God, you won’t be a good influence on anyone and you’ll only hurt what Jesus is trying to do in other people’s lives. … I’m really thankful you said something so I could have the chance to clarify. And I will make a note to myself that I need to drink two cups of coffee before I write this in the morning. 😉 Love you, Joni!

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