It’s interesting to me how we compare ourselves to others. Each of us in our own way will compare ourselves to others in ways that relate to what we identify to be important. Christians and non-Christians alike do this whether it is comparing up and trying to follow something that someone else is doing that seems to have it all together or comparing down in order to justify our actions, behaviors, and our state of being. We compare looks, finances, perceived good vs. perceived bad, and much more, but what does all of this say about who we are? It is an identifier as to what we deem important in our life.
When we focus on improving our lives in certain areas we tend to do better in those areas simply because we are focused on it. When we pay attention to our finances and understand what the Bible tells us about our finances we do a better job of being stewards. When we focus on our appearance we tend to take better care of ourselves, maybe by sleeping more, eating right, going to the gym, or by what we wear. When we focus on what others are doing in their lives we begin to strive to be like them, whether it is by buying stuff to try to do the things they are doing or treating people the way they treat people because of the results they get by treating others that way.
When we focus our minds and our actions on things we take responsibility for what we are doing and make a conscious decision to change what we were doing in order to achieve a desired outcome. For Christians this should mean that we focus our minds and our energy on follow Christ as that is essentially what a Christian is, a Christ follower.
1 Peter 1:13-20
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “you must be holy because I am holy.”
And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.
We are told to prepare our minds for action and to exercise self-control. Our goal as Christians is to be holy just as God is holy which means that our every thought and action should be on glorifying God and not on satisfying our own desires. With that comes a warning not so slip back into our old and selfish ways. This is achieved by keeping our eye on the goal of being holy. This is not an easy task and it is never complete. Thank God that by his grace through Jesus Christ he has paid a ransom to save us from the life of death that we inherited.
Our mission is to be holy because God is holy and our commission is to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (And) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our focus is to be on becoming more and more like God everyday while loving people just like God did and to bring them along with by making disciples and baptizing them.
If we all focused our attention on God appropriately our lives and the world around us would look substantially different. When we more accurately reflect who God is because of living a holy life then people begin to look at us differently and to act differently when around us and they will recognize the difference too. This will illicit two main responses, the first is that people will be drawn to you and want to know more about God and the other main response is that it will make people uncomfortable which will cause them to act out in different ways to try to discredit you and to separate themselves from you, but remember that we are merely “temporary residents” here and that we are to be holy because God is holy.
When we are living our lives in such a manner that we are reflecting Christ in all that we do we will experience opposition and persecution and when we are not reflecting Christ we will not. What kind of life do you prefer to live and what impact will that have on you later? We all have a choice to make whether to live for God or to live for the world. The world promises riches, fame, and happiness, but there is only one way to receive eternal life and to reap the rewards that one can only receive from following God.
May God bless you as you step out in faith to follow Him more fully in your life. Lord show us areas in which we are not following your way and areas in which we can do a better job in following you. Teach us your ways, help us learn to recognize your voice in all circumstances, and give us to courage when we are weak to follow you and your commands. In Jesus’ name. Amen.