When I prepare for the day, the most important thing I can wear is the expression on my face. Do I have a cheerful heart? Am I ready to represent?
If you want to represent the Lord... And I mean REALLY represent... You have to understand that going to Church, reading the Bible, spending time in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit are all still just training for our ultimate purpose. Like a sport, this is all practice time as we learn and prepare.
GAME TIME is when we enter the World and interact with those who are unaware of the Scriptures. The World is the devils arena! And for Christians, it can be very adverse and alienating at times.
"If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own;
but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you." - John 15:19 (ESV)
Fortunately, mankind is made in God's multidimensional image. Our souls are eternal. This aspect separates us from all other species on Earth, provides for our higher intelligence and makes us all very valuable in God's eyes. Because of this, our lives are a test of faith in God's glory and a test of our compassion towards each other. This reality gives every Christian a greater calling beyond their own self-interest. We have an obligation to help the lost gain a perspective that includes eternity.
All Christians will face temptation. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste and touch has the potential to affect us in very negative ways. Bad influences can easily waste our time, lead us astray, affect our judgement and eventually determine our habits.
This means that there are two categories of Christians:
The first, are those who are still maturing and are more likely to give in to discomfort or temptation.
The second, are those who become seasoned veterans, who can be surrounded by hardship and temptation; and will still be able to make the right choice; thus setting a good example to the lost.
Once we finally mature and put aside our old ways of the World, we are truly ready to represent. Until we are ready, patience is a virtue!
Growing with Support
Until a Christian has the strength to be around and still avoid the bad habits of a World centered on self-indulgence and deceit, they need to associate with those who provide moral support. Not only that, we need to gravitate and fellowship with those who we can learn from and those who will not lead us into compromising situations. This is why prayer, studying the Bible and fellowship with believers is so critical.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,
just as you are doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
To maintain a close relationship with God, we have to put aside our old ways of doing things. Until we have the fortitude to be in the World, but not consumed by the World, we must be very cautious.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV)
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” - 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
As we are reminded in both 1st and 2nd Corinthians, the apostle Paul had to first become free from people before he could then be strong enough to try to lead them to Christ. It is important that we are honest with ourselves in such matters because it will often have a disastrous effect if we try to help those we are not truly free from.
“Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
- Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
Acquiring the Armor of God
Having the strength to say no in the face of temptation can be a process that takes time… But as we grow stronger, we will gradually acquire the proverbial “armor of God”.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet,
having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God,” - Ephesians 6:10-17 (ESV)
Every person is different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But everybody who continues to seek the truth is a member of the body of Christ. As the bible teaches, we are preparing ourselves to be the bride of Christ. Like a bride for a groom, we, the Church, are preparing for our eternal spiritual marriage with Christ (the sacrificial Lamb, who died for our sins).
"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;" - Revelation 19:7 (ESV)
Become a Shining Light
We should be an example by being a shining light to those we encounter. A bright light is used as a guide so we can find our way. We, as representatives of Christ, need to do the same for those around us. In a world with so many distractions, so much fear and deceit, it is up to us to be a light for our society.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand,
and it gives light to all in the house” - Matthew 5:14-15 (ESV)
“In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
- Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
We must realize that our actions speak louder than words. Our behavior when facing adversity and the complexities with life will set a great example to those who do not understand God's love and the wisdom of the Scriptures. No one can force another to change their views on life, our society or universal truths. By showing love and honoring God through our kind words and actions, our works will bear greater fruit in helping others to understand.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
“For though I am free from all men,
I have made myself a servant to all that I might win the more …”
1 Corinthians 9:19 (NKJV)
Communicating starts with building honest relationships. We must always be a positive role model, patient and encouraging. In time, our honesty and compassion will tear down barriers and mistrust. Our blameless nature will make the best example for all to see.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with them all.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” - Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to open their heart and mind to God's glory and endless grace. Once this occurs and the individual begins to pursue a genuine relationship with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will expose the logic and wisdom of the Word, transforming the hearts and minds of the lost.
“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” - Isaiah 11:2 (ESV)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
- John 14:26 (ESV)
The direction and wisdom gained from the Holy Spirit is an amazing gift from God. Learning to listen to this guidance often arrives from your inner barometer, known as the human conscience.
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