One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
God positions people beside us to help. In a world that tries to teach us to use people and to see what they can do for us, the Bible speaks of a reverse system. Rather than seeking what we can get in this world, and what people can do for us, we are taught that we should seek the best interests of others. We are taught that we are to look out for our fellow man. We are to speak life. We are to encourage, We are to build up.
In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul speaks about people who are strong in the Lord. These spiritually mature are to be considerate to others. We are to recognize what is most important. It isn’t about pleasing ourselves. It is not about us at all. Answering the command of the Lord, we are to love others. We should help others to do what is right. We should invest in people. Build them up in the Lord. This is relationship. This is living intentional. This is reaching outward.
Today, consider who God has placed around you. There are mentors around you, who are being led by the Spirit to help build you up. Then there are people around you who are growing in the Lord. Speak life to them. Walk beside them. Take time with them. Invest in them. Remember that you once were there. Align yourself to them and help them to sink their roots deeper into Christ Jesus.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” – Romans 15:1-2 [NLT]
The world tries to tell you that you are only responsible for yourself, and sometimes that even isn’t something that is taught. But the Bible speaks about an integrity the world does not understand. We have a great responsibility, as well as many responsibilities along the way. If we want to live for Jesus, we must be intentional. If we desire to walk in faithful obedience, we cannot ignore our responsibilities.
In Deuteronomy 22, we read about someone coming upon their neighbor’s wandering sheep or goat. The verse tells us that the person should take it and return it to its owner. This speaks of an expectation that consists of going above and beyond. It might require you to go out of your way. It might require you to spend some extra time to get it done. Part of you may justify just keeping the sheep, clinging to the phrase, “Finders keepers.”
Going the extra mile glorifies God. Not ignoring the opportunity to help bless someone glorifies God. Don’t ignore these opportunities that come your way. Consider this opportunity to be a gift. Go the extra mile and watch what happens.
“If you see your neighbor’s ox or sheep or goat wandering away, don’t ignore your responsibility. Take it back to its owner.” – Deuteronomy 22:1 [NLT]
One of the biggest spiders I have seen this warm season made a nice home at the arborvitaes. Every day I would see this huge web constructed and the large spider just sitting there. I tried to keep my distance. He hung around for days. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. I thought we were safe. Little did we know, the spider found a way into my sister’s car. While she was driving to work one morning, the spider decided to interrupt her drive. She shared with me this great excitement. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.
The evils of this world like to hang around, lurking around just as this spider. We often think we are safe because we keep our distance. But just like the avoidance of the spider lurking about, so there can be trouble if you don’t address the nearby evils. When there are temptations lurking, when our friends or family are knee deep in sin, or when we start to even allow sin to take residence in our homes—this keeps the door wide open for the devil to do his work. The devil doesn’t sneak through the front door with a bright neon sign announcing his coming. He sneaks through the cracks. He enters when you least expect it. Remember, he is clever.
We are not always going to be prepared for an attack. We are human—we have our good days and our not-so-good days. To be best prepared, consistency in our walk with Christ is very important. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6), and remember that this is a daily need. Continue to surround yourself with that which will keep your eyes on Jesus (see Philippians 4:8). Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Spend time with godly friends. Remember, the Spirit of God will help see you through to victory.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 [NASB]
One of the hardest things for us to do in this age of technology is to watch and wait. When a website takes longer than usual to load, we mutter not-so-nice words under our breath. When the street light seems to take forever to change or the person in front of us does not notice it changed and move at a rate we expect, we get frantic. When we push a button a few times for the elevator, we continue to push it again if the elevator does not rush to our floor. We live a life of rush, of busyness, of frantic racing from place to place or task to task. But God’s Word tells us that we were never meant to be zooming around everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off.
In Proverbs 8:34, it says that we will be blessed if we listen, watch, and wait. This seems simple. Listen. Watch. Wait. But to do these three things is not so easy. To listen, means we need to be intentional. You may have heard the phrase, “Put on your listening ears.” For a child of God to have listening ears, it means we have ourselves ready to listen. The noise of the world isn’t drowning out God’s voice. We have made time to hear. We have found a place that will promote the stillness we need to hear the still small voice.
Not only are we to listen, but we are to watch. We watch God move with our eyes. We watch what He has for us. But we don’t act. It says we watch and wait. This is not the typical sequence of action for us. We are accustomed to watching someone show us how to do it, and then start following the How-To video to accomplish the same project or cook the same meal. God wants us to listen and watch for Him, and only move when He wants us to move. To be in His will, to walk so closely to Him, following His instruction, requires us to listen, to watch, and to wait. This is what abiding in Him is all about—and living this way results in living a life that is blessed.
“Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” – Proverbs 8:34 [ESV]
Recently a lady came through my lane at work and she had a smudge on her face. In Pennsylvania Dutch terms, we call that “schmutz.” Schmutz is a term I use for things like mayonnaise and ketchup, but it can also be used to describe a grease smudge. When you have a small cut, I might say to you, “Put some schmutz on it,” referring to ointment. Nonetheless, this lady had schmutz of some sort on her face and I tried to politely let her know.
When I told the lady about her schmutz, she was so grateful. She couldn’t see the smudge on her face because she didn’t have a mirror. She had been walking around with it on her face all morning and no one said a thing.
Today’s verse talks about a face smudge that we can so easily see on our neighbors. We all have schmutz on our face but we don’t have the mirrors in hand. Many times we find faults in others and those faults are also our own. It is difficult to see yourself, to see all the bits and pieces, but God can help you see every smudge if you pay attention to His voice and you continue to be in prayer. Whether you know it or not, God knows you better than you know you. I’m praying that today you will able to show grace and mercy to the schmutz of others as you intentionally wash your own face with the help of the Spirit.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-Matthew 7:1-5 [MSG]
If you are the older sibling, you might have heard the phrase “look after” your brother or sister. If you are in a management position, your job is to “look after” whatever you are managing, and this usually includes a group of people. When you have children, you “look after” them.
Looking after someone requires time and attention. Looking after someone at its best requires love and dedication. Looking after someone or something requires caring. Looking after someone requires being intentional and present.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.” He went on to mention bitterness that leads to trouble and corruption. We spend a lot of time looking after ourselves, looking after our families, looking after our co-workers—let us not forget to look after our brothers and sisters.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15 [NLT]
We talk often about God being faithful but what about us? How can we be faithful to God? I know that God has always been and will always be faithful. I also know that I have not always been faithful. I fail Him daily.
Stop Hesitating. Move forward to what God has promised. Don’t stand on the verge. Embrace God’s plan for you. James 1:6 speaks about those who are double-minded, who are “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (NIV).
Start Acting. Bury yourself in the Word. Read it. Study it. Study it alone and join a group. Remember the Armor of God? The Word is the only offensive weapon. Take an offense. Pray. Pray continually. Helplessly. Shamelessly. Listen intentionally.
Stand Firm. It is easier to fight than to stand. Remember, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13 NLT).