Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Living Proof

I like seeing a fresh coat of paint on things, so I thought I’d give this birdbath that we have on our deck a nice coat just a few weeks ago.  The problem was … is … rather than taking a wire brush or sandpaper to it, I just spray painted over the old paint.  I got lazy.

Now that it has been out in the weather for a few weeks – in the rain and the heat – I am starting to see little flecks … the imperfections and bubbles that indicate that the rust didn’t go away on its own.  There’s evidence the “cover-up” didn’t work.  I know that it’s only a matter of time before I’m going to have to paint again!

Isn’t that a good snapshot of how most of us have lived since we decided to become a Christ follower?  You know, content to just spray-paint over rust?  We … me included …  just sprayed a coat of religion over our old selves and called it good.

If you did what I did, we were just kidding ourselves.  Since then we’ve learned, haven’t we, that we can go to church, sing the songs, say “God bless you,”  think we’re okay … maybe even righteous … but … WHEN stuff begins to happen … real life … when someone rubs us the wrong way, or says something we don’t like – suddenly that coat of paint begins to chip off and the real person underneath the cosmetic cover rises to the surface and attacks back.

The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, that we need to let Christ sand us way down to the bear metal, in order to cover us with His way of thinking and acting.

Shouldn’t there be a difference between a person who says they are a Christ-follower and a person who is not following Christ?  When somebody … you or me, for example … chooses to do life God’s way, shouldn’t our lives look and sound like He is the primary Influencer of our thoughts, attitudes and actions?

According to Paul, there should be a stark, even sobering difference between those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, the Savior, and us!  But how do we go about the daily business of living for Jesus?

Here’s what Paul wrote (Ephesians 4:17-31):

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this:  Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.  18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him.  19 They have no sense of shame.  They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.  21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies.  Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.  26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing.  Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.  29 Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Have you ever noticed how many times the Scriptures tell us that if we want Jesus to transform our lives we must allow Him to transform our minds?  Read it for yourself in Romans 8:7 –  “That the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God.”   The mind is the battle-ground for our actions – for how we live.  Our constant challenge is found in Colossian 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

If we are committed to living a Christ-centered life, then we must make a choice to surrender our mind, our thought-life, our decision-making processes to God.  We don’t “dumb down.”  Christ-followers change their minds.  And for our minds to change we must make a decision.  In verse 17 of Ephesians 4 it says, “Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.”  We are asked to make a decision.  We are being encouraged to not only make a decision to love Jesus … but to live for Him as well.

You do realize that even the devil believes in Jesus?  Wrap your mind around THAT!  In fact, Satan is smart enough to tremble at the mention of His name while many people take His name in vain, or use it as a curse.

Believing in Jesus is not enough.  Our belief of Him and in Him should lead us to make a decision that WE WILL CHANGE!  WE MUST CHANGE!

The source of our changed life is God’s power let loose in us (vs. 23), but the goal of a changed life is the positive way we treat each other.  How we care for and treat others is a measure of living a life of love … living a life for Jesus.  Remember, He said, So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”

Our lifestyle is supposed to be “living proof” that we love Jesus.

Think about that!

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