Don’t be thankful for your veggies because of starving children

When we look at ourselves, and then at those around us, it is easy to compare. We can compare in order to bring ourselves pride and think we’re bettter than others- and we know that is clearly wrong. But what if you compare yourself to others to help yourself be thankful? Is that right?

Sayings like, “Eat your vegetables, there are starving children who would be grateful for that food.” Or “You should be happy, there are people with terminal diseases who don’t have much time, and you were only late for work.” Or “Don’t complain about your life, think about those soldiers who are facing death itself every day, you have it better than them.”

While such comparisons may be made in with completely good intentions – they are not Biblical at all. The Bible never tells us to compare our lot with others, in order to be thankful.

It just tells us to be thankful. To rejoice. To love.

The word of God carries no clause like, “Think of poor _______ you should be thankful.” It just commands that we be thankful.

In fact, the word of God tells us that those who compare themselves to others are not wise. The last part of Colossians 3:15 tells us, “be ye thankful.” It’s as simple as that. We should not be thankful for any other reason than to please our Lord.

If we are to compare ourselves, we are to compare ourselves with Christ. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” If we are to follow Christ’s steps, then that means we must look to where He stepped.

Would Christ be thankful for his food? Would Christ do the work He was called to without complaint? Would Christ love someone without bounds?

There is no need to cast your gaze upon others and try to bring yourself to a right attitude by feeling bad for another. I challenge you, have compassion for others, and show Christ’s love whenever you can, but have right attitudes because they are right, not because someone is worse off than you.

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Do you have a heart?

Have you ever known someone that was really annoying? They were rude, unsportsmanlike, selfish, and didn’t seem all that intelligent? Perhaps this person did more and more to reduce their value in your eyes. Over time, you didn’t care what that person thought or felt, and pretty soon, you didn’t give one iota about their well being either.

I must confess, I’ve been there. There have been some times that I have had so much disgust for someone that I almost hated them. I honestly believe that this sort of miserable condition is what Proverbs 11:12 is speaking of when it says,

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

That word despise really carries the meaning of “to value as nothing.” It’s easy to devalue people who don’t treat us the way we want. It’s natural to love less those who disrespect us, but the God has something very profound to say about this. He says that such a person who devalues his neighbor is devoid of wisdom.

But it doesn’t end there. The Hebrew word translated as wisdom, is translated over 500 times as our word “heart.” So let’s put this in a literal way. If you don’t value or love your neighbor, you don’t have a heart.

On the other hand, if you are a person of intelligence and understanding, then you will hold your peace. You will be silent. You will keep the peace. Perhaps you will even love them.

Those are some pretty intense opposites.

I challenge you, search your heart. See if there is someone that you do not value as God values. It is not a healthy thing to harbor feelings or attitudes that do not coincide with God’s view. In case we didn’t get the full picture from this scripture, God spells it out in Proverbs 14:21 when He says, “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.”

Don’t allow selfishness and pride reduce you to devaluing another.

Have a heart,

or ask God to give you one.

Respect or Idolatry?

It is easy to be caught up with the world’s mindset. Many times we are easily swayed into thinking like them. For instance, I have known myself to become really excited about a movie coming out, or a particular performer that is coming to my area. To an extent, such happiness is only natural, but sometimes it is inappropriate.  Yes, inappropriate.

The world idolizes people. They glorify individuals as great and magnificent, when really, they are really only men. Perhaps you don’t have an artist or director you idolize, maybe it’s a figure in history, maybe it’s a character in the Bible. Perhaps a certain national or world leader. You think well of them. You have a certain awe for them. You idolize them. You wish you could meet them. Perhaps you think of them so much that you daydream about how awesome it would be to meet them. 

Now, to an extent, that is perfectly appropriate to think well of a person and want to meet them. But far to often I have experienced that in my life and in the lives of others that such thoughts of a person become out of perspective, and sometimes sin. 

God tells us, “There is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) God also tells us in the same chapter that He will give everyone according to their works whether they are good or bad.

Out of God’s own mouth we know that He does not hold any certain “awe” for anyone. Whether they were rich or poor, popular or unknown, talented or devoid of talent, they will all stand before God. He will judge them according to what they did with what He gave them.

To be honest, I can’t give you a specific verse that tells you exactly the difference between simple respect and idolatry. I can’t draw the line between a healthy respect for individuals and flat out idolatry. That is for you to find in your own life. I challenge you, ask God to search your heart. Ask Him to teach you what is a right and what is not. You may or may not need to adjust your attitude. However you act or think, I would encourage you to use this simple test. Ask yourself, “In eternity, would I be this excited? When all is said and done, and we stand before God alone, would I think the same of this?” It has helped me, I believe it may help you. 

Let us not be as some who, “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

Let us adore God alone.

Standing before kings

Are you self motivated? Most people are not. Ask almost anyone in the business world. Managers of businesses and corporations are finding it harder to motivate people to diligence. Many people are not diligent, especially when it comes to tasks they give themselves. As Christians, we are called to live a life of diligent service.

In Romans 12, we find many different commands. These commands were given one right after another. In Romans 12:11, we find, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;" The verse very clearly tells us that we should view all business (work in general) as service to the Lord. More than this, we are to serve God with a fervent spirit.

I would like to share a verse I have always enjoyed. Proverbs 26:14 says, "As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed." I don’t know about you, but this verse has always made me laugh. If we really think about though, we can gather a very important truth. Just as a door doesn’t go anywhere, the slothful or lazy guy who stays in bed all day, doesnt go anywhere. He moves around, but he doesnt get much done at all. As a result, he probably won’t get far in life.

I would like to challenge you. Be diligent in your work. Don’t allow yourself to be overcome with laziness. Remember, you’re not working for your boss or yourself, you’re working for God. Have a passionate spirit about your work. Being passionate about work isn’t always easy, but we can always go to God for help. Let’s ask God to help us be fervent in spirit as we serve Him. When we serve Him diligently, we can receive the promises He has given us.

"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." – Proverbs 22:29

Are you better than a conqueror?

What is your reaction to hard times? Do you allow your situations to determine your demeanor? It is natural to have emotions and react to the situations around us. When Jesus was on earth, he was angry, he wept, he was weary, and he rejoiced. Through all this, Jesus kept himself under subjection.

Proverbs 25:28 says, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." If we understand the cities of the past, we know that their main defense was their walls. A city with well built walls could repel a great army with a much smaller amount of defenders. Our self-control is truly a defense against Satan’s attacks.

In John 2:15, Jesus is in the middle of overturning the money changers tables. He made a whip and began to drive the merchants out of the temple. He declared His Father’s house to be one of prayer, and not a den of thieves. In 2:16 though, we find something interesting. It says, "And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence;" Did you see that? Jesus drove out the animals, overturned the tables, but he told the merchants to TAKE the doves. Despite our Savior’s righteous indignation, He had self control.

You can stand up a table, and herd oxen again, but it would be really hard to catch a dove. Jesus knew this and acted in self control. Jesus was angry, but He was not in sin. He is the perfect example of Ephesians 4:26, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"

How about you? When you get frustrated, do you allow your anger to get the better of you? When you are in a tough situation, do you allow your circumstances to drag you into depression. I would like to challenge you, encourage yourself in the Lord. Our circumstances will influence us, but we should never allow them to control us. If you are in a tough situation, take your eyes off the world around you and look to Christ. He will give you to inner strength to walk in righteousness despite how your emotions entice you to act or think. If we control ourselves despite our emotions, God says that we are better than one who conquers a city.

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." – Proverbs 16:32