Living With Purpose
Common man wisdom says, “You can fool some people some of the time but you can’t fool everybody all the time.” The approval of others may not mean much to you. But for some, it’s a constant concern to please everyone they know. Consider for a moment: Are you meeting the expectations others place on you? Do you really care if people approve of you? It’s not easy to meet all the expectations. In fact, nobody can. Some expectations placed on us by parents, teachers, spouses, and work supervisors can be unrealistic. Many relationships are damaged or destroyed because unrealistic expectations were placed on someone and the other person got frustrated and gave up. Be careful of this. Are you being fair to the ones you love or the ones that depend on you?
Scripture doesn’t promise an easy life for everyone who chooses to follow. What it does promise is God’s approval when we reflect Him in our actions, attitude and motivations. We can compare ourselves to others every day, but this won’t help your relationship with God. We must compare ourselves with what matters most; the Scriptures. The Bible tells us in Matthew 5, “Happy are those poor (humble) in Spirit.” Do you always rely on your self-sufficiently or do you go to God for help? People need God. We need His help and we need to practice our acknowledgment of Christ in all that affects us. You can also find in Matthew 5 it says, “Happy are those who have it hard for doing right.” It’s easy to develop a tolerance for sins like “white lies.” Our spirit must follow God’s will and not grieve the Spirit of God. This takes practice because we don’t always succeed on the first try. It’s also important we keep a right view of ourselves in relation to God and others; practice being gentle in your relation to others.
Being humble, enduring hardship and being kind and gentle in spirit were part of Jesus’ instructions for us. These characteristics run counter to popular culture. It takes a hard effort and much practice to live the standards of Christ when the world is antagonistic. By putting into practice Christ’s instructions we can enjoy a happy and productive life. We don’t have to be reliant on the approval of others. John 13:17 says, “If you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.”
Though we may never achieve it, practice gets us closer to perfection. So let’s all do these four things: Practice the presence of Christ. Don’t let your lack of awareness and busyness keep you from fellowship with Christ. Daily, hourly, and moment by moment let each step you take be accompanied by the presence of Christ. This is done by prayer, God’s promises, and perseverance.
Practice the purity of Christ. 1 John 3:3 says, “The person who is looking for this to happen will keep himself pure because Christ is pure. “When Jesus was walking on earth, he set an example of purity for us to follow. Today, the world and non-Christians influences often cause people to let down their high standards. Practice positive thinking, seeing, hearing, saying, and doing. Whoever obeys and follows Christ’s instructions has the love of God made perfect in them (1 John 2:5-6).
Practice the peace of Christ. The world desperately seeks for peace. Education, psychology, and pleasure all fail to deliver permanent peace. Getting caught up in the hurry-scurry of our busy times is an invitation to anxiety and restlessness at night when we try to sleep. Christ alone provides true peace and gives it to those who receive it by faith. Practice accepting Christ’s peace daily through your struggles and know lasting serenity (Phil. 4:6-7).
Practice the power of Christ. In trying to please others and make a name for ourselves we become exhausted and frustrated; simply because we disregard God’s help and try to live in our own strength. The Scriptures declare that we can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13). The power of Christ is available to us through faith. Accept Christ and practice living for Him until you’re sure of this approval.
Find a church where you can serve and worship in Spirit and in truth. Make church attendance a priority for you and your family and always know that God loves you and wants what’s best for you and the ones you love.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at www.living-with-purpose.org.