Today the series Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life continues with Week 3, Characteristic 3, which is "Don't take yourself too seriously".
It is so easy as a Christian to be drawn into Satan's lair by thinking we somehow deserve better than we are getting because we are a Christian! However, the Scriptures teach exactly the opposite. St. Matthew 5: 11 -12 says "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Isn't it odd that we deem ourselves better than those who walked before us? Better even than the Lord Jesus Christ himself?! What is it about us that makes us think so highly of ourselves? Do we not believe the very Scriptures we teach? Did not Paul say to Timothy in his second letter, verse 12 "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day"?
When I think of the heroes of the Bible, no one other than Christ himself impresses me so much as does Paul. What a man for the Lord he was! And, even in the midst of that great suffering, he was able to praise the Lord and be thankful, yes thankful, for his sufferings for Christ! Not only Paul, but others taught us to be thankful for our persecutions. James tells us in James 1: 2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
Paul teaches us in Romans 8: 37-39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
What a joy to know that, whatever life may bring our way, we cannot be separated from the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by Christ Jesus our Lord! That alone should be enough to cause us to offer praise to our Father and encourage us to live for Him. I cannot out-love, out-give, or out-forgive my Father. Because He loves me, I am free to love others. Because I am free to love others, I am free to desire their good above my own.
In Romans 12: 2-3, Paul admonishes us "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
When I am tempted to whine to the Lord about the circumstances of my life, I remember these verses and I am convicted in my heart of my pridefulness. I am so much less deserving than so many who have it harder than do I. Yet, in God's amazing grace, I have so much for which to be thankful. My heart's one desire is to walk worthy and in His perfect will for my life. Yes, I lose sight of that sometimes. I am so thankful He reminds me and helps me renew my mind and look to Him for strength and guidance.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. "
Psalms 121: 1-2
(All Scripture references are NIV unless otherwise specificed.)