The simple life

I love the Bible. It’s truly the most amazing book I’ve ever read, full of every sort of story you can imagine. Every story that’s ever been written has roots in the Bible, whether people believe it or not. Today’s verse is so clear, so simple, so wonderful — I’m not even sure what to say about it. . . . .

The verse of the day was actually a single verse, but I went ahead and included the whole paragraph where it’s found. And if you want a truly awesome read, you should look at the whole chapter.

1 Peter 3:13-17

 13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.[c] Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

Don’t be afraid of threats. Worship God like He’s the only Person who matters to you, and if someone asks you why you are always full of hope, make sure you tell them why. Make sure you tell them that you have hope because of what Christ did for you. But . . . don’t beat them over the head with your salvation. Salvation isn’t a club to bludgeon people into submission. And the Word is a sword, but it’s not to stab unbelievers with. People who don’t believe in Christ aren’t our enemies. They’re just people God made who haven’t come back to Him yet, and usually the reason they left God and won’t come back to Him is because of Christians.

Live your life with a clear conscience. Always do what is right, even if it means that you will suffer for it. Live in a way that you have no regrets. Live a life looking forward and not mulling over things you’ve done that you can’t change. Live the way you’re supposed to — live the way Christ did — and don’t do anything to compromise your witness, and if you do compromise your witness, apologize. Do what you can to make it right.

And then, if people speak out against you, they won’t have any basis for it. Everyone who matters will know why you live the way you live, and everyone who matters will see the kind of life you live, and the people who say mean things about you will simply be branded as people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

We are called to be an unusual, peculiar people. People who love others in spite of what they do to us. People who help others less blessed than us even if we barely have enough to sustain ourselves. And, because of human nature, even if we live the way we’re supposed to, there will always be someone who hates us. The Bible says somewhere else that Christ was hated; so why do we expect to be loved if we live like He did?

I love verse 17. If we do wrong, we’ll suffer. That’s pretty obvious. So is it smart to do wrong and suffer for it when it’s not what God would have us do anyway? If doing wrong ultimately hurts us and hurts the people around us, why do it? Isn’t it better to do what is right, even if we’ll suffer for it? If we do what’s wrong, we have no defense. But if we do what’s right, God will back us up. And even though we might endure a little bit of suffering from people who don’t know what they’re talking about, in the end, we will have maintained our witness. Our consciences will be clear. And the people who are watching us (there are always people watching us) will see that we’re different, that we’re full of hope, and they’ll wonder why. And maybe, if we’re fortunate, they’ll ask us and we can tell them that we live for Christ and Christ alone.

Don’t be afraid. Live like Christ. Worship God. Know what you believe and why. And stick to it. 

It’s simple. It may not feel simple somedays, but it is.

Advertisements

Golden

I don’t like tests.

I always enjoyed going to class (unless it was math or math-related), and I have always loved to learn. But taking tests to prove that I learned it? Not my favorite thing in the world.

Most of the time I would do all right on any test I was given, but usually I would miss silly little things. Easy questions that I really did know the answer to but that I just neglected to really think about in the middle of the test.

I never really thought about this, but that’s kind of like life. When I run into tests in life, I usually do all right. I know quite a few right answers, so I guess I usually score pretty high. But the answers I miss — the problems in life that really trip me up — are simple. They’re easy things. Like not worrying. Like not getting stressed out. Like not getting impatient with people. And I know how to handle those situations. But in the heat of the moment, in the middle of the test, I don’t think a situation through and I choose the wrong answer — like letting my impatience get the better of me or worrying myself into a pit of depression.

Tests will always come out better if you think about the answers you think are right.

The verse this morning truly encouraged me about this.

Job 23:10-11

 10 “But he knows where I am going.
      And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.
 11 For I have stayed on God’s paths;
      I have followed his ways and not turned aside.

 God knows where we’re going. I can’t even begin to explain how encouraging that is by itself. He knows where we’re going because He knows the future, and because He knows where we’re going, He knows how to help us get ready for what’s coming.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve wondered why God allows certain things to happen in my life. And then (usually about ten years later) after I’ve grown up a bit and gotten a little deeper into life, I can look back and see His hand leading me all they way. I can see the reasons why He let me experience things that at the time felt negative or stressful or overwhelming. He was testing me, getting me ready for something bigger and better that He had for me.

God has given us every resource we need to pass any test we face.

We have the Bible, which tells us how to live. We have the Holy Spirit in us, who prays for us and gives us direct access to God. We have God Himself who is on our side and who wants to help us every chance we let Him. If you’ve in a situation today that you don’t know what to do, pray about it. Read the Bible. Ask God to reveal the answers to you. The answers are in there. Maybe it’s cliched, but–seriously–what would Jesus do? Love God. Love people. I know that’s a general statement, but it’s true.

Do the right thing. Do what God says to do. Honor your parents. Don’t frustrate your children. Respect your husband. Love your wife. Obey your bosses. Pay your taxes. Live a life above reproach. Work as though you’re working for God and not for people. Do everything in your life like you’re doing it for God. Keep your perspective straight. There’s so much about how to live in the Bible, and many times people don’t even look for it.

God has set out a path for us to follow. He’s given us directions. He’s not only told us how to live but when Jesus was here, He showed us how to live too. He set down a path for us. So we should get on that path and stay on it. We need to follow Christ and not deviate. That’s what it means to be a Christian. Not being baptized or taking Communion or singing hymns or wearing special clothes or belonging to a church.

Stay on God’s path. Follow His ways. Don’t deviate. Then, when God allows life to test you, you’ll have the answers you need.

Then, you’ll be golden.