I look at the world around me and I see reasons – loud, obnoxious reasons – why it doesn’t pay to do the right thing. More aptly, how people are not just getting away with doing the wrong thing, but actually being rewarded for it.
With it, a sinister lie is creeping into many hearts – it’s useless to bother. Doing the right thing doesn’t pay off so why bother? Doing the right thing is just giving me more grief and problems so why bother?
The unfortunate truth is that this is not new. None of it is. Throughout Scripture and human history is evidence of ages where wickedness seemed to reign supreme and it was a struggle to find anything good in being good.
When madness seems to abound everywhere we turn, it serves as a true test to show us what really drives us to be one thing and not another; to pursue one thing and not another; to choose the way of God not the way of the world.
This is the time when the true leaders of our age are ushered forth. Not by virtue of titles and positions held, nor by fame, popularity and fortune; but by the testimony of their lives. Testimony that has been tried and tested. Testimony that shows who truly carries the heart of God and not just His hand.
“The same power that raised Him up is the power that lives in us.”
– Brian Johnson (Strong In Us)
Every believer has an innate call to leadership and dominion in one way or another by virtue of the commissioning of Christ to us all. But divine power and authority – the kind that actually makes a difference – can only flow in the lives of they who are truly for Christ – in word and deed.
You may get away with tricking human beings including yourself by preaching water and drinking wine but the angels and principalities know better. The devil is well aware who is out rightly for him and who he can hijack to unknowingly fulfill his agenda. God will certainly not be blinded by your words when your actions tell a different story. So who’s fooling who?
Character then becomes a question of who holds you heart whether someone is there to see it or not.
If you hold your own heart, then your life is for your convenience and benefit; everything you do and don’t do is dependent on what you think and feel is best for you. You’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy and keep you comfortable even if it’s at the detriment of others. Every strength you have will propel you forward in equal measure to how every weakness and limitation you have will draw you back.
If that which you desire most – whether material possession or the affection and attention of another – holds your heart, then everything you’re doing will be centred on how you can get it; and once you have it, you’ll be obsessed with trying to get more of it while hoarding what you already have. Because one taste is never enough. And you don’t realize that that which you think you have, in actual sense, has you.
If someone else holds you heart, then you are a puppet in the hands of a master who may not truly understand the power of the sway they have over you, much less have the wherewithal to steward your destiny which is now in their hands. It’s a precarious situation when one pot relies on another for its identity when only the Potter knows why both exist.
If God holds your heart, then the decisions you make in private and public will be in sync with His heart and mind for you concerning those things. The evidence in your life will be the fruit of His Spirit – love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control and patience. Even in moments and seasons of wilderness and great testing these things will emerge strong in who you are and all you say and do.
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
– Jim Elliot
We cannot build anything that is eternally relevant without the foundation of character. It matters little how gifted and talented we are, how spiritual and successful we become, if we lose sight of the most basic fundamentals of Christian living – the very things that differentiate us from all else.
Some of us want to be good/Godly not because it’s the right thing to be/do but because of what we think we’ll get out of it. Whether it’s the ticket to heaven and eternal life, a somewhat more material version of blessing on earth, or the fulfillment of your deepest desires, we’re not pursuing godliness out of our love for God. It’s a means to an end.
So when someone else on a different path seems to be getting to their end faster and with less trouble, we find ourselves questioning whether the path we’re on is really worthwhile.
We need learn how to do the right thing because it’s the right thing; not based on what we’ll get out of it. Otherwise our motivation ends up for sale to the highest bidder who can best convince us they have the best deal to offer; and our definition of right and wrong becomes blurred on the scale of benefit to self.
I look at the kingdom of the God who lives in me and I see reasons – quiet, unassuming, yet strong and steadfast reasons – why I need to pursue God’s heart all the more. Why even when I falter and fail, I need to catch my breath, get back up and keep moving forward. Why in the moments when I find myself despairing at the state of the world in me and around me, I can lean all the more on Him and trust in the goodness of His heart.
Yes, Scripture and human history have shown us terrible times that make us question humanity. But in the midst of it all, like the brightest of stars in the darkest of nights, shines the heart and hand of God working through a handful of men and women who dared to believe for something better and gave their lives for it.
You need only look up and look deep to see. Some of their stories abound in Hebrews 11.
Then you need to look within to realize your role and mandate is crucial.
The baton is in our hands.
May we faithfully run our race.
As a believer, is God pleased with who you are when people are watching and who you are when they’re not? Ask Him to show you where you need to make some changes.
If you were to intentionally cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control and patience – what would your everyday life look like?
That is what you need to go do.
Because that’s how you change the world one person at a time.