Aspen leaves at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Even God’s family has responsibilities

Have you ever thought about your responsibilities as a Christ follower? Because we do have responsibilities. I don’t know if anybody really talks about it, but those responsibilities do exist.

I think it’s really easy to forget that God has a plan for each of our lives, especially because people don’t really talk about what He expects from us very often. And some of that may be fear of confusing salvation by works with salvation by grace through faith, but just because we’re afraid of confusing people with a topic isn’t reason enough to avoid talking about it.

In every family, each member has a responsibility. Sort of like in a body, where every part has something it’s designed to do.  When I was little and my family would go camping, each one of us had an assigned job at the campsite, and it was our responsibility to do our part, otherwise things just didn’t get done. So when we choose to join the family of God, why do we think it’s any different?

Aspen leaves at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Aspen leaves at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Luke 12:48.

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

This is a verse I grew up with, but in thinking about it this morning, it took on new meaning to me. Every American Christian has been given much, whether you are the wealthiest person in the United States or the poorest. Americans have freedom and opportunity, and if we’re willing to work hard, we can better ourselves. That’s not the case in other countries.

So regardless of how you grew up or when you came to know Christ, as a Christian in America, you have a responsibility to use your resources to help others come to know God through Jesus too. You have a responsibility to love people.

But I want to narrow in on a certain group of Christians out there, one that I have a particular burden for. Because I’m one of them. We’re the Christians who started going to church in a baby carrier. We’re the Christians who grew up with the Bible in our homes and, in some cases, in our schools. We’re the ones who’ve known Jesus since we were children.

So what? What difference does that make? What difference does it make if you’ve known Christ since you were 7 versus 47?

If you’ve been given a lot, a lot will be required of you. But if you’ve been entrusted with a lot, even more will be required. The Amplified Version says: “required and demanded of you.”

If you’re a Christian who was raised in a godly home, who had access to a Bible from the earliest days of your youth, who had parents who taught you to respect God and love Him, who had a church that encouraged you to grow in maturity, you haven’t just been given much. You’ve been entrusted with much. And there’s a big difference.

Do you think it was an accident you were born in a Christian home with a Christian family? No. That was part of God’s plan (just like it was part of God’s plan if you weren’t born in a Christian home with a Christian family). There are no accidents. There are no coincidences.

So what are you going to do with that? I’ve known too many Christians who were raised in families that loved God–not perfect families but what family is perfect?–who decided the God-thing wasn’t for them. Too many people who came to know Christ at a young age are just sitting back and doing nothing with the opportunities God has given them.

That’s why long-time Christians find new believers so refreshing. Their faith is so new, so exciting, so alive. Well, guess what, Long-Time Christian? Your faith can be new, exciting, and alive too. You just have to work at it. You just have to keep testing it, keep pushing it, keep expecting God to do amazing things. And He will.

But you can’t sit back and just wait for it to happen. You have to get up. You have to get moving. You have a responsibility to use the knowledge and experience and the life that God has given you to help others.

Imagine what our churches would look like if the experienced Christians actually stood up and did something instead of expecting to be served. What I’m seeing is that the new Christians are the ones jumping up to participate in ministry, and that’s spectacular! That’s the best way to keep growing in faith. But what about the folks who have grown up with their faith? What about the people who’ve known Christ for 20, 30, 40, 50 years? Where are they? What are they doing for Christ today?

I don’t want to pick on anyone. I just want to ask the questions. And I want to hold myself to the same standard. If I’m not doing anything for Christ today, then I’m wasting the life He gave me. I’m wasting the knowledge of the Bible that He gave me. I’m wasting the relationship He gave me. And I’m missing out on a HUGE opportunity to witness the impossible.

Maybe you grew up in a Christian home and you think this God-thing isn’t for you. Can I respectfully urge you to reconsider? You don’t have to have your parents’ faith for God to be real in your life. Actually, you can’t have your parents’ faith. You have to have your own.

No, you can’t lose your salvation. No, God will never reject you. But I can pretty much guarantee you that He won’t be happy with you if you treat His gifts like they aren’t important.

If you grew up in a Christian home, if you’ve known Christ since you were a child, and you aren’t actively involved in serving others today, you’re in trouble. Because you’re part of a family. You’re part of God’s family. And you have a responsibility to that family. You’ve been entrusted with the greatest responsibility there is–loving people, helping people meet Christ–and if you throw it away or ignore it because it makes you uncomfortable or because it’s too much work, God is going to have something to say about that.

A pink saddle at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Being kind to people who you really just want to smack

Loving people is hard work. Have you ever noticed that? I mean, some people are easy to love. They’re those people who make you better. They’re the people who brighten your day when you see them. And I am so very fortunate to be surrounded by people who encourage me and make my life bright. But then, there are the other people. And they are everywhere. You know who I’m talking about. Christian or non-Christian, old or young, at work or at school or at home or even on the street, the other people take your happy mood and stomp all over it. And they almost seem to enjoy doing it. Maybe they would enjoy doing if they enjoyed anything.

Don’t pretend like you aren’t thinking of someone right now. We all have them in our lives. Those people who we cringe when we see coming. I’ve got a couple (no one in my close inner circle though, thank God), and I wish I could tell you I was a good enough Christian that I embrace them with loving, open arms. But that would be a lie. More often than not, I hide. Because hiding is so much better than having to talk to them. Because talking to them runs the risk of me saying something regrettable out loud.

After all, why not? What if they deserve it? What if that extraordinarily irritating person really just needs to be put in his or her place? What if that obstinate, arrogant moron needs a good talking to so that they understand they’re the ignorant ones?

A pink saddle at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

A pink saddle at the Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS (because I’m going to get on my horse and ride, this morning, folks)

Today’s verses are John 13:34-35.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

This passage makes me clench my teeth because there are days–so many days–when the last thing I want to do is love people. I don’t want to love people, especially stupid people. But guess what? Do you know who said this?

Yup. Jesus Himself said this. And there’s no misunderstanding this, no matter what language you read it in, no matter what translation you read it in (yes, for any of you who might be wondering if I’m a heathen, I read multiple translations at the same time! *gasp*). And I believe if Jesus says it, I should do it, whether I want to do it or not, whether I feel like it or not, whether I even like it or not.

Jesus says to love people. I’m supposed to love people like He loves people.

Really?

Yes. Really. (Yes, I’m talking to myself right now.)

But Jesus isn’t telling us to roll over and let people walk over us. He isn’t saying that we’re supposed to walk around with our heads hanging low, sighing unhappily about how we’re supposed to love everyone. “Ho-hum. I have to love that idiot who told a lie about me.” News flash, folks. That’s not love.

Okay. I’m a little snarky this morning. Maybe I should apologize. But there’s a reason.

See, I had planned to do this post anyway because there are just certain people I encounter in life who I have a hard time being kind to. I have a hard time loving them because they just make it so dang hard. So I was going to post about loving each other anyway–and then I discovered that another WordPress blogger decided to repost something I said yesterday and proclaim to all the Internets that I am a Christian Infidel. And most of it stemmed from the fact that I made a somewhat derogatory comment about the King James Version of the Bible.

(Although my statement was less about the KJV and more about people who carry them around clubbing others with them…. “I’ll leave you to your deductions.”)

And you know, I wasn’t even angry about it. It made me laugh more than anything else. But then I got to thinking about it when I started this post. If I had the opportunity to speak to this person, what would I say to him? Not that he would care about anything I say. Obviously, he didn’t read my post. He just pulled out the part he didn’t like and decided I’m a horrible sinner (which I honestly can’t deny). But what would I say? What would I think? Could I look him in the eye and tell him that I love him? In spite of the fact that he’s pretty much twisting my words?

Well, that’s what I need to do. That’s what Jesus does with all of us, if you think about it. How often have I twisted the Bible to suit my own preferences? I’m sure I have. Everyone does. I wish we didn’t, but we do. We don’t want to submit to God’s authority, so we take it on ourselves to rationalize God’s truth to make ourselves feel better about our actions, about our inaction, about the way we treat others. Jesus knows we do that, and He still tells us that He loves us. That’s what makes Him different. That’s what makes Him Jesus.

Christians, that’s what makes us different. When we can look at the people who hurt us, the people who use us, the people who make us so angry we could just scream and tell them that we love them, they can’t say anything against it. When we look at those people–the ones who deserve to hurt, the ones who we think should be punished–and tell them that we love them because Jesus loves us, it shows that what we believe isn’t just for show. It proves that what we believe is real.

And that’s what the world needs right now. The world doesn’t need a translation of the Bible; the world needs the message of the Bible. The world doesn’t need another religious person wandering around making everyone feel guilty; the world needs to know how much Christ loves them and what He did to save them.

That’s what will change the world. It’s not me and it’s not you. It’s Jesus and His love, and the most amazing, awesome, incredible gift He has ever given us is the power and the strength and the courage to love people who don’t deserve it.

So I’m going to march over to my new friend’s blog and thank him for the pingback. He can do what he wants with it, but because of what Jesus has done for me, I am determined to love people today, especially the ones who make me mad. So watch out! If you piss me off today, I’m going to hug you!

Linda Reazin's wonderful toffee made every year for Judgement House, Wichita, KS

Look for the chance to do good

Why is it so much easier to criticize someone than it is to praise them? Have you noticed that? It’s a lot easier to find fault with someone than it is to recognize them for something they did right. Maybe that’s because I’m a perfectionist.

But then how does that explain the strange urge people seem to get when they sit around in groups—to point out anything and everything that’s wrong in their personal situation or in the world in general? Am I alone in noticing that the negativity in our culture seems to be spiraling out of control?

So how do we, as Christ followers, deal with that?

Linda Reazin's wonderful toffee made every year for Judgement House, Wichita, KS

Linda Reazin’s wonderful toffee made every year for Judgement House, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Galatians 6:10.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have the opportunity to do something nice for somebody else? I think we all have. But how many of us have done it? How many of us have seized that opportunity?

It’s easy to talk about being nice to others. It’s not as easy to actually do it. Being nice to other people takes effort, especially if you’ve had a bad day. But the Bible clearly says in more than one place that we need to be kind to each other, and it’s not just talking about Christians being kind to Christians. Christians need to be kind to nonbelievers. Christians, we need to be kind to everyone.

As followers of Christ, we are called to do good. What does that mean? Do good. If it will help someone, if it will make someone smile, if it will show God’s love to someone, do it. And when are we supposed to do this? Well, if you take Scripture literally, right up there it says whenever you have the opportunity.

Whenever you have the chance to do good for someone, do it. And I love how Paul emphasizes the part about doing good to other believers. Sometimes other believers are the most difficult to be kind to. But the way Christians treat each other is supposed to show the world that we’re different.

So be on the lookout for someone you can be kind to. Keep your eyes peeled for someone you can help. You can hold doors for people. You can help people carry groceries or take their cart to the return bin. You can smile at someone in line. You can speak kindly to the stressed-out college student in the drive-thru. You can watch for the opportunity to be an encouragement to someone else.

If you do that, if you spend your time looking for the opportunities to do good, you’ll find you don’t have time to give into the negativity. And soon you’ll find that you don’t want to. And the more time you spend being an encouragement, the more likely people around you will pick up on it too.

Negativity may be contagious, but the best way to fight it is to look for opportunities to brighten people’s lives.

Steps of a temple in the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Being patient with other people

Do you ever just want to haul off and smack someone? I do. Some people get under my skin to the point that I really just want to shake them. I don’t, of course. I usually resort to making faces at them and taking notes about their behavior to feature them as an irritating character in my next novel (you’ve heard it’s not wise to upset a writer, haven’t you?).

But is that the way we’re supposed to be? As followers of Christ, we all have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We just don’t always choose to use it. According to Galatians 5:22-23, everyone who has the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Yesterday I blogged about being patient through circumstances. But what about being patient through relationships?

Steps of a temple in the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Steps of a temple in the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Colossians 3:13.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

When it comes down to being patient in difficult situations, I can do that. Actually, anymore, the more difficult a situation gets, the better I am at being patient through it. In the last five or six years, I feel like every situation I’ve been in has been difficult, and this year has felt like a constant emotional roller coaster. We’re not even halfway through 2013 and I’m already exhausted. But I’m not impatient.

However, all it takes for me to lose my cool–I mean really lose my cool–is for me to come in contact with a stupid person. If you’ve ever driven in the car with me, you know this is true. I don’t get angry very easily, but when it comes to bad drivers? Wow. Yeah, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Today’s verse stings because I’m not very good at making allowances for the faults of others. I think it’s my own perfectionism. Deep down inside I hold myself to such high standards that I expect others to perform to a certain level, and if they don’t, I get impatient with them. After all, excellence isn’t that hard to achieve. If I can do it, why can’t they? Right? Any other perfectionists out there hear me?

But the heart of today’s verse is patience and humility. Maybe I’m driven to be perfect, but I guarantee you that I’m not. No one is. And everybody knows that, but there’s a difference between knowing it and living it.

When someone wrongs you, forgive them. Why? Because it won’t be very long before you turn around and wrong someone else, whether you intend to or not. And you appreciate being forgiven, don’t you? You appreciate people being patient with you, don’t you?

Granted, there’s a level of stupidity that you shouldn’t have to deal with. Some people are fools, and f0ols are dangerous to have in your life. Those are the people who keep making the same mistakes over and over again and never learn from them. But even those people don’t deserve cruelty. We should still be patient with them, even when we cut them out of our lives.

God forgave us. And when God forgives, He puts our faults out of His mind. They don’t exist to Him anymore. And that’s how we need to forgive others. When someone offends us or does wrong to us, we need to choose to see them as a human being who isn’t perfect, just like us.

Yes, there may need to be a change in the relationship, but don’t give up on them. Just be patient with them. People are people, and they don’t change until they start listening to God. And that is true for believers and non-believers alike because you can be a follower of Christ and not be listening to the Holy Spirit.

Think of a person in your life who drives you crazy. Identify why that is. I’ve got one in mind right now. Decide that you’re going to be patient with that person today, that you’re going to show them love and forgiveness even if they don’t reciprocate, that you won’t let their actions dictate your responses, that you’ll listen to the Holy Spirit’s whisper above the screaming of your heart.

It will make a huge difference in your day. And it might even make a difference in their heart. You never know how God will use you, but it starts with listening and obeying the Spirit.

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Love God, love people

What matters to God? When we look at our life and our choices, what matters most to Him? What does He want from us? Because He’s not just some distant figurehead floating in the sky somewhere who knows everything that’s going on and doesn’t care. He’s present and involved in our lives at the most basic level. He cares about what happens to us. He cares about the choices we make. He wants to be a part of our lives.

I’m so distracted by all the busyness of life that I need to remind myself of what really matters. And when I think about what really matters I think instantly about the rules. I’m a performance-driven perfectionist, so I actually like rules. I’m not a big fan of breaking them either. So even though I know that the rules don’t make me righteous (only Christ can do that), I still want to follow them because if God hadn’t given them they wouldn’t be important.

But while I don’t know all there is to know about the Bible, I do understand that there are a lot of rules. There’s a ridiculous number of commandments, not just the ten we’re familiar with from the Charlton Heston movie. And I love the commandments. I love God’s laws. But that’s a lot of rules to keep track of, and it would be really great if there were a summary somewhere.

Cue Christ, the storyteller. One of the marks of the greatest storytellers is to be able to cut to the heart of the matter and tell you what the point of the story is, and Jesus was great at that.

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Stop sign at the end of the road at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Matthew 22:36-40.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Love God. Love people. That’s a summary of the Law.

Want to know what matters to God? Love Him first. Then, love people around you.

Want to know how to live? Love God. Love people.

Want to know how to make decisions? Love God. Love people.

Don’t know how to handle a situation at work? Or at home? Or at church? Or at school? Love God. Love people.

It’s basic, but it’s real. And it’s true. If you love God and love people, the decisions you make and the choices you make will begin to change your focus. Actually, your focus will change. When you’re serious about loving God and loving people, your entire outlook on life will change.

God wants us to love Him. But not just love like a passing fancy. He wants to be the most important relationship in your life. And that can be difficult sometimes because it’s hard to relate to someone you can’t see. At least, we can’t see Him like we see each other. But there are other ways to know Who God is and where He is and what He thinks. And most of the time, I don’t find it hard to love Him. I mean, He’s God. And personally, He’s everything to me. But then, I don’t have a spouse. Or children. So I can’t speak to the difficulty of balancing those aspects of life with my relationship with God.

And then there are the days when He doesn’t do what I want Him to do. But even then, I don’t stop loving Him. But I can tell you that many times He’s not the priority in my head. I want Him to be, but my attention wanders.

But the one I really struggle with is Most Important Command Number Two: Love People.

People make me mad. They frustrate me to no end, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed this bad habit of speaking my mind. And my mind isn’t always a good thing to let loose on the public. It’s got some snark and sarcasm in there that can be hurtful if not tamed, and though I hate to admit this, as someone who loves words, I know just how to use them to manipulate. So for me it’s a constant battle of knowing when to open my mouth and when to seal it shut because I don’t want something I say to be damaging.

God loves people. He loves me. And I’m a person. He loves the world, and the world is full of people. The trouble with people is that they usually only think about themselves. And I’m lumping myself into that people category too. But what this commandment tells us to do is to go against what is natural to us; we are commanded to love each other rather than ourselves. That’s not normal. And that’s dang difficult. But that’s what matters to God. Love Him. Love people.

Does He deserve it? Absolutely.

Do they deserve it? Absolutely not. But because He loves them and He loves us, we need to do it anyway.

Granted, I’m not saying love people at the expense of your health or your sanity, but at the very least, change your mind about them. People are people. They do stupid things. Guess what? So do you.

Everybody needs grace.

So today, make your choices and decisions remembering that the most important commandments are to love God and love people. If you can live by that, I’m willing to be you’ll see a difference not only in your relationships but in yourself as well.

 

Flamingos fighting at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Being nice isn’t enough

Sometimes I read Proverbs, and they don’t sound right. Like the writer took two completely unrelated sentences and joined them together with a comma and coordinating conjunction and expected people to get the point. But as a grammar fiend, it irks me because compound sentences are supposed to be composed of two closely related sentences. And many times verses out of Proverbs feel like they’ve been mashed together.

But something occurred to me this morning. God knows grammar rules. So if a verse out of Proverbs sounds mashed together and unrelated, I’m not reading it right. Maybe that sounds like common sense to you, but it was something of a revelation to me.

Flamingos fighting at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Flamingos fighting at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 16:21.

The wise are known for their understanding,
    and pleasant words are persuasive.

See what I mean by two sentences that don’t really fit? If I had been writing this sentence, it would sound something like this: “The wise are known for their understanding, and people ask their advice.” Or something like that. Because being known for understanding and persuading with pleasant words don’t sound related at all.

Or do they?

I was having a conversation with a friend last night in regards to someone she knows who is a very persuasive person … in a mean way. She’s apparently one of those types who can launch into a conversation with a particular type of assertive, engineered cruelty designed to get her exactly what she wants. And she’s good at it. She can browbeat anyone within an inch of their lives until they give in and give her what she’s asking for.

Talent? Maybe. Because I couldn’t do that. I make myself sick when I have to confront people at work about doing something for me that they’re supposed to do anyway. I can’t imagine calling someone up and screaming at them until they break.

But when I read this verse today, the part about pleasant words being persuasive caught my attention. Pleasant words are nice, sure, but persuasive? Most of the time when I need something and try to be pleasant about it, I don’t end up persuading anyone.

But here’s where the very related first sentence in that compound construction above comes into play.

Wisdom. Understanding.

Pleasant words by themselves aren’t enough. Pleasant words wielded by someone with understanding? Now that’s a dangerous combination.

Think about it.

If you have wisdom, if you can understand someone, you can communicate with them on every level. Body language. Vocal tone. Understanding means you “get people.” And if you get people, you know how to talk to them. You don’t have to scream. You don’t have to insult or browbeat or attack.

Now I’m not talking about manipulation. I’m talking about communicating. So many times in our world, we don’t communicate with each other. We form preconceived notions about other people so that when they come and ask us for something, we write them off or we dismiss them because we think we know what they want already. Maybe you do. But maybe you don’t.

In the corporate culture where I work, it’s essential to get along with people, but it’s also essential to get information from people. If people around me don’t do their jobs, if they don’t get me the information I need, I can’t do my work. I suspect that many of you who are reading this are in the same position. Well, how do you get what you need from other people who’ve already made up their minds about you?

Get to know them. Understand them. Find out what’s important to them, what matters to them, what drives them. And when you understand that, you can communicate with them on a different level. You can explain what you need, why you need it, why it matters to you, and why it should matter to them.

That’s not manipulation. That’s communication. That’s understanding the people you’re working with. That’s giving the people you work with a window into who you are. And when you can understand people on that level, you don’t have to resort to screaming and threats. You can be pleasant.

Wisdom and pleasant words are powerful tools. They are persuasive, yes, but implementing them at the same time will make a huge difference in your work environment. Because the wiser you become and the more pleasant you become, the more people will like you. And the more you’ll have a chance to help make a difference in their lives.

And that’s more important than getting your way any day. But if you use wisdom and pleasantness together, you might just get both.

Sunrise in the trees - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

More to life than success

God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t prefer one person to another person. Yes, He has a closer relationship with some than others, but that’s not His doing. I really believe that we all could be people after God’s own heard like David was if we would try. And, yes, the Jews are the people God chose to use throughout history (and they are His chosen people), but He doesn’t love the Jews more than He loves any other people.

God is fair. He treats everyone the same. And that’s good to know. Right?

Sunrise in the trees - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise in the trees - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:45.

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

I think Christians get the wrong idea some times. I think we live with the assumption that just because we’ve placed our faith in Christ, that means our lives will never go wrong. I think a lot of Christians proliferate the idea that once you accept Christ into your life, all your problems disappear. I know that’s what Christian media does.

Name a Christian book or movie that portrays a Christian character who gives his or her life to God at the end and gives the impression that everything is going to be fine. Happily ever after endings. Can you think of one? It shouldn’t be hard because that’s about all Christian media communicates. Accept God and your life will be perfect. And that’s not true. Most of the time, when you accept Christ, your life gets harder than it was before.

According to this verse, God treats every person on earth the same way, regardless of whether they believe in Him or not. He lets the sunlight shine on believers and nonbelievers. He lets rain fall on believers and nonbelievers. He blesses both, in spite of the fact that neither group gives Him the credit He deserves most of the time.

So why do Christians get upset when nonbelievers succeed?

I know a lot of people who don’t believe in Christ, and I consider them my friends. They are very successful people, and since they don’t believe in God, they credit themselves for their success. And that’s fine. Because they don’t believe. They don’t know any better. And it’s not my job to correct them. But it’s easy to get caught up in wondering why God allows nonbelievers to succeed when I am stuck in one place and can’t move forward.

It’s frustrating because God treats everyone fairly whether they believe or not. And Christians have expectations while nonbelievers don’t. It’s not that Christians have rules, but we are called to live a certain way. And I think the most frustrating part of watching a nonbeliever succeed is knowing that he or she doesn’t have the same expectations on their lives as a Christian does. Christians are supposed to love each other more than themselves. We’re supposed to sacrifice for each other. We’re supposed to focus more on the life to come than the life we have now. And nonbelievers don’t have to do any of that.

A Christian who sacrifices success because that’s what God has called them to do will encounter the same struggles as someone who doesn’t believe. What point is there in giving my life to Christ if I don’t get any of the perks, right? If I’m going to be stuck in one place and have to give up succeeding because I care more about the people around me than my own dreams, why should I turn my life over to God? Because He won’t treat me any differently either way. And as a weak-minded, puny human being, that doesn’t sound very fair to me.

But that’s because we aren’t looking at it from God’s perspective.

Yes, it is frustrating to watch someone who doesn’t believe succeed in life. Yes, it’s irritating to give your dreams to God and have to sit on them until He says it’s time while you watch people with no regard for spiritual things push forward and succeed, but success in this life is temporary and full of potholes. We get so caught up in watching other people succeed, and we get so upset and frustrated because the most successful people in life aren’t Christians, that we forget the entire point of the Christian life: we weren’t designed for this life.

This life isn’t all we have. This life is just a proving ground.

You can seek success in this life, but what good is it going to do you when you die? That’s why the Bible says we’re supposed to store up treasures in heaven. We’re supposed to be living for the life that’s coming, not for the life that we have now. As a Christian, our perspective needs to be for eternity. We only get 80 or 90 years on Earth. Eternity is forever.

So does it really matter if a nonbeliever gets a promotion and you don’t? Does it really matter if a non-Christian achieves success and gets famous and you don’t? Does it matter at all?

Why should it matter? What is it going to change in the grand scheme of life?

Not much.

So should we give up? Should we not even try to succeed in this life? I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying we need to get our perspectives straight. We need to stop living for the next promotion or the next pay increase, and we need to make the most of the time we have down here to prepare for the life that’s promised to us after we die. And we need to start treating nonbelievers the same way God does: the same way we treat believers. And you never know. If a nonbeliever witnesses a believer being fair? Maybe they’ll grasp the fact that there’s more to life than success.