These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it.
(Matthew 15:8 MSG)
Growing up, I had to learn quite a few languages, and they were not all by choice. They were either spoken at home or in the country I lived in. As a born-again Christian, I also learned a new language: Christianese. You know, those words or phrases Christians use that sound “Christian.” And like any new language you learn, people can tell whether it’s your native language or not.
Jesus knew the Pharisees and religion scholars spoke a language that they learned by choice and not by will. When they came to Him with questions about their man-made religious rules, “Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands?”‘ (Matthew 15:3). Then He went on to quote the words of the prophet Isaiah and told them, “Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it”‘ (vv.7-8). Ouch, that must have hurt their ego!
Learning to speak Christianese is a great accomplishment. But just remember that God is looking for people who not only say the right thing, but who also mean it.
Walk the talk if you want others to follow the Rock.
This isn’t a chapter in the book, but something I felt the need to write about in our increasingly competitive world. I’m not sure why some people choose to compete with others (quite foolish if you ask me, since there will always be someone who’s better than us at something). I’ve watched people compete for far too long and just can’t help but think to myself, “Aren’t they tired yet?” It sure seems exhausting when you’re trying to keep up with what everyone else has or does all the time.
Here’s what God has taught me about rising above competition. Always make sure that whatever you do is done out of a pure heart to please God. (If we make Him our main priority, everything else will fall into place.) There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do or try new things as long as you don’t feel the need to impress or please anyone. If people are competitive, let them be while you enjoy your relationship with God which is far more important than anything life has to offer. Hopefully, it will inspire them to reach that same level of intimacy with Him too.
In closing, to rise above competition, always ask yourself why or for whom you’re doing what you’re doing. If it’s not for God, or even yourself, then you need to re-evaluate your motives. If competitive people are always reminding you of what they think they’re better at or what they have, live your life in such a way that they’ll want what you have – a relationship with Christ!
Once again, this isn’t a chapter in the book, but something I felt the need to write about today. On a day when many people celebrate “love”, it’s easy for those who are single to believe in lies.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding – and being – with someone who loves and makes you feel special, especially on Valentine’s Day. But if you only find your worth in someone or something other than God, then be prepared to be disappointed because no one can love us the way He does. It saddens me to hear women who say that a man makes them feel “beautiful and loved.” That’s great, but even if he didn’t, would you still feel the same? Not long ago, I complimented a woman on her new haircut and her response to me was, “Thank you for the encouragement.” I found it odd that she would find a simple compliment like that ‘encouraging.’ She went on to tell me that she was quite confident in herself, but her actions spoke of the need for approval. Confident women don’t seek approval from others, we find it in Christ. God-confidence goes a long way.
The truth is, you are loved and treasured by the One who made you and He says you are beautiful. Ladies (I’m speaking to you here), we can spend our entire lives looking for a man who will love and accept us for who we are and we’ll be truly blessed to find one. But let me tell you something. God wants you to find your identity and worth in Him than in someone else. So while you wait on Mr (or Mrs) Right, learn to embrace God’s unconditional love for you. I promise you that it will make you feel whole not just on Valentine’s Day, but for the rest of your life.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”
(Genesis 50:20 ESV)
Do I believe that people can have bad intentions towards us, even those we thought were supposed to be good to us? People who would rather see you fail than win, cry than laugh, fall than rise? Sadly, yes. I often say that it’s not that I don’t see them, I just choose not to give them the power to be seen. Because when we focus on the people who wrong us, we end up giving them the time and attention they don’t deserve.
But here’s the good news. No matter who meant evil against us, God can turn it for good. I’m writing this from experience, so believe me when I say that God will use what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good. And friend, this is what gets me through the most difficult days when I see evil manifest itself through people who allow the devil to work through them. Good always triumphs over evil. Always. That is why we can rise above the evil prevalent in our world today.
Today’s verse comes from the lips of one of my favourite Old Testament heroes: Joseph. The man whose own brothers meant evil against him said that God turned it for good. He could have chosen to focus on the evil committed against him, but rather chose to focus on the good that came out of it. Because if we really took the time to think about it, “God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). He assures us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Count on it, the best is yet to come!