Most mornings I ask the Lord to give me something to think about and act on during the day. This morning He drew my attention to these verses. Paul is writing to a pastor with instructions on the teaching he should give to his congregation and why this is important:
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:1–6)
This is timeless stuff. Yielding to authorities covers a lot of territory from obeying the law, not cheating on income taxes, and driving the speed limit. I am supposed to live that way because Jesus saved me from a heart of lawlessness that resists anyone telling me what to do.
This means obedience to God too. This seems a no-brainer yet anyone who believes in Jesus and reads the Bible knows that obedience is seldom easy. It requires abandoning all my I-wants to do the will of God. That means being on-call 24/7 to the God who wants my life to be distinct because I do good things.
He also wants me to not speak evil of others. Seems simple until I realize this includes evil people who mock God and those who live totally outside of His will, doing whatever they wish and even flaunting their rebellious lifestyle. How easily Christians fall into critical judgment against anyone breaking the laws of God. We say stuff like, “I’d never do that” — forgetting we ourselves were once foolish . . . .
Instead of the harmony that comes from a pretended agreement that refuses to speak my opinions, I’m to avoid spats and disagreements by having a gentle and quiet spirit, an attitude of heart that is loving and courteous, truly gentle and mild, even-tempered, not faking it to keep the peace but a genuine gentleness.
This should come from realizing that no matter how badly someone talks or behaves, I’ve been there. As these verses say, I have also been foolish, disobedient, completely caught up in doing whatever I wanted to do. I’ve been malicious, envious, hated and hating. When I remember the pit I was in when Jesus grabbed hold of me, I’ve no right or reason to be condemning anyone else or putting them down because “I’d never do that.”
Having a holier-than-thou attitude is the most off-putting attitude of all. People will accept complete honesty, even honesty about a sinful life before accepting that “I’m better than you” stuff. In my heart, I know it is a lie, not because of the spiritual pride it displays but because I know that all of us are in the same battle — we do stuff that we know is not right or good for us. The only difference between me and those who continue to live like that is the loving kindness of God my Savior who appeared to me and saved me, not due to anything I have done but totally according to His mercy.
Because I believe His grace is the only reason why I am a Christian, then how can I look down my nose on anyone? I do not deserve even the least of His mercies. For this, He asks that I show the same mercy to everyone else.
Lord Jesus, help me to always remember that salvation is by grace through faith. I cannot look down on anyone, only look up to You, the most merciful God who loves me.
Today’s thankful list . . .
I can boast about Jesus.
God’s grace that covers all my sin.
All the changes in my past.
All the changes He will make in the future.
A nice slow day and a long nap.
Finally understanding a little bit about rugby.
Being able to cook once and eat twice.