1. Walk with others in their pain. “Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are mistreated as if you were being mistreated.”
I shouldn’t distance myself from others and their problems. I should try to empathize, and think about what they must be feeling. I should help carry their burdens. (Gal 6:2) I should “walk a mile in their moccasins” with them.
This is timely for me because Ken and I were just discussing a talk by Guy Hammond on homosexuality. Guy has same sex attraction, but is also a Christian. It is easy to say that the Bible says homosexual acts are wrong. It is much more difficult to try to understand the person who has a same sex attraction.
My conclusion is that I should not share scriptures with someone without really listening to them and seeking to understand them. If you’d like to know more about Guy Hammond’s web site and ministry, Strength in Weakness, go here: http://www.strengthinweakness.org/
2. Embrace and thrive in every moment. “Don’t love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, ‘I will never abandon you or leave you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can mortals do to me?’
I can squander my day in marking time, gutting it out, just trying to make it through until something better comes along. I have to fight the discontent. I have to believe that I am meant to be right where I am today, and make the most of my time.
God is with me! He is my fellow worker, as I am His. There is so much I can do, so much of life to enjoy, so much to squeeze out of every moment. I need to THRIVE!
3. Be strengthened by grace. “Gaining inner strength from God’s kindness is good for us.”
I can look to my own performance as a source of strength. When I think I’ve done well, I’m happy. When I feel like I’ve failed, I struggle.
I have to picture God’s grace like a waterfall, always coming down on me in abundance. There is so much goodness available to me. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. (Lam 3)
4. Sacrifice is still important. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise. . . ”
Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that the age of sacrifice ended with Jesus. We do live in a new age, but sacrifice is still important, just in a different way. I lay my whole life on the altar every morning. I give a fragrant offering to God every time I praise Him.
- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:5
- In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
- Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
- Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thes 5:16-18
5. Keep on confessing . . . “the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
I think of confession as something we do when we become a Christian, just as Jesus did: “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession . . . ” (I Tim 6:12-13)
But this verse in Hebrews 13 reminds me that I need to continually confess that Jesus is Lord. Do I shrink back? Do I try to make my faith “civilized” and “palatable,” and thus not open my mouth? The other day I started a conversation with a mom who had twin babies strapped to her front and her back while she shopped. We had a great little chat, but I didn’t reach out to her spiritually. I thought she would think I was weird, or that I had an agenda, if I ended our conversation with an invitation to a religious function.
Maybe there was a way of extending an invitation so this woman didn’t think I was weird, but the bottom line is that I can’t be afraid to tell people what I am about, really, what everything is all about. I realized that I have to make the good confession part of my daily walk more.
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. Mark 8:38