When it comes to giving, this has been a guiding principle for me over the last few years. God gave me everything. “Giving” 10% back is just the starting point he has called us to. Beyond that we are also called to “leave the edges of our fields unharvested for the poor and marginalized”.
I frequently catch myself falling into a common trap we see today in our Western World, where I would rather live in a world where bad things don’t have to happen for God to get the attention of his people. I want to create God in my own image instead of remembering that I was created in his. I want to say things to myself and to others along the lines of, “Well, a loving God would…” and then philosophize about how I would do things if I were God and project those items onto my heavenly father.
This is the level of thankfulness and adoration I want to have for Jesus and the sacrifice that he made on my behalf. I want to walk through life with a childlike wonder at the fact that the God of the Universe loved me enough to take on human form and pay the ultimate price for my sins knowing that I could never earn it on my own. I want his praise to always be on my lips.
It is so much simpler, in our meme-centric world, to want nothing more than to take the statement, “The Bible is God’s word and every portion of it infallible.” and take that to mean we can take any passage out of context, throw it over a beautiful picture, post it online, and it will share God’s truth.
The world desperately wants us to live according to the flesh. We are bombarded by stimulus that encourages us to stop worrying so much about loving God and loving others, but instead to focus on our own status, wealth, appearance, social life, material possessions, etc.
God says, “Trust in me fully. See what happens. If you would just turn over your entire day, week, month, and year to me, you would feel my love absolutely surrounding you throughout the entire day. Let me shower you with my love. I just need you to trust me fully and not just with an hour or two before becoming distracted by your normal worries, stresses, and anxieties you have been allowing to control your day. I am right here with you. I just need you to turn and embrace me.”
I have often heard that it is almost impossible to kick a bad habit without replacing it with a good one. If all you are doing is striving so hard to not sin, focusing on developing your will power more and more every day so that you can avoid that stumbling block, you inevitably trip over it again…and again…and again.
When we see others who bounce back quickly from adversity and wonder how they are able to see God’s hand at work in that challenge; it is easy to forget the hours and hours they probably spent in the “spiritual gym” preparing for that moment. It is easy to forget there was probably a lot of suffering in that spiritual training ground, that resulted in a lot of perseverance being developed, that built a lot of character, that paved the way for that ability to hope.
I love being able to share Christ with folks that are struggling in their life and already know they are missing something. So many of them are ready and willing to hear the truth. I love planting seeds in this fertile soil that Jesus talked about in Matthew. I struggle, however, having the desire to go after the intellectual skeptic. I am nervous chasing after the person I know is going to try to pick my argument apart. I have complete confidence in my own faith, but will I be able to articulate it well to them? Will I be able to answer their questions effectively enough to win them over? What if they ask tough questions I am not equipped to answer?
Jesus wants an army of followers willing to reach out to others in all of our brokenness, not trying to put on a mask of perfection, but vulnerably saying, “Yeah, I am messed too. I continually fall short. I am trying to be more like Christ every day, but every single day fall short in some way or another. I am so thankful that God loves me exactly where I am and was willing to come along side of me with all of my faults, baggage, and hang-ups. I am so thankful that Jesus willingly paid the price for me, knowing that I would trip and fall over and over again, despite my best efforts."