Day 3's challenge was to see if there's anything in our lives that we should avoid or that's becoming an addiction. I know that I'm not alone in saying that I have a borderline addiction to social media and the Internet in general. It's usually the first thing I think about doing once I'm awake and kicking in the mornings. It also definitely takes away from my relationship with Jesus. I haven't started to make a plan to get rid of it, but I think knowing you have a problem is the first step, right? ;-)
Today's chapter is called Know Right from Wrong for the Sake of Others
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Knowing right from wrong shouldn't be difficult. We know that we shouldn't steal, cheat, lie, or any number of other things that "bad people" do. But what about those tricky little "gray areas" that cause you to question yourself? What do you do when the line between right and wrong is blurry?
If you're working on becoming amazing (which I hope you are since you're reading this!), then the first thing you need to know is that you have to know right from wrong, not for your sake, but for others, according to Bathsheba in Proverbs. Sarah puts it succinctly: "Life was never about doing what was right for you, but it is about doing what is right for others."
This is where the difference between telling little white lies to appease people and telling the truth comes into play. Sarah uses an example of when a friend asks if a dress makes her butt look big. The "nice" thing to do is to lie, but telling the truth is right for her sake. My mom and I have a straightforward relationship where we know if we ask a question like that, we will get the truth. I value that honesty and appreciate that my mom can tell me the truth in a nice way. Wouldn't you rather be surrounded by people who can tell you the truth in a loving way than people who will lie just to keep you happy? If the example of clothes making your figure look bad doesn't really mean anything to you, take it up a notch. What if you were around people who lied to you about liking a significant other who treated you poorly? When I was in college, I dated a guy who wasn't the best for me. I had good friends who constantly told me that he wasn't someone I needed to be with, but it made me mad, and I didn't listen. Looking bad, I'm glad that they were able to do that because so few people are that bold.
Keep in mind, if you want people to tell you the truth, you have to remember not to overreact when they do, if they truly have your best interests at heart. You also have to tell the truth yourself. It's not a one way street! You have to be gentle and use grace, but you'll find that your relationships are so much better when you don't have to worry about lying to one another just to keep each other happy!
Phew, that was kind of a tangent. Let's get back to the chapter!
When you decide that you want to live out a life that shows people the difference between wrong and right, you have to know how to do that. Some may think that knowing that difference is instinctual, but those instincts had to come from somewhere. Children don't know the difference between wrong and right unless they are taught by adults (and even some adults don't really know!). Where do we learn these things?
(I wanted to give you time to guess)
From the Bible!
That answer shouldn't have been a surprise to you if you've been following along with this series so far! =)
For those of you who haven't read a lot of the Bible, you might think it's an old, outdated rule book. While it is old and there are rules, as Sarah points out, it's really the story of God choosing to love the world. How does love relate to right and wrong? As Sarah says in the chapter, love acts with others in mind, so walking in love means living right because that encourages others to live right. In other words, if God is love, and we walk in love, then we're walking with God and living in the right way. Does that make sense? Don't take the word walk literally here either. Sarah showed us in this chapter that the word walk has a modern translation of "lifestyle". Still confused? Galatians 5:16 puts it this way:
But I say, walk and live (habitually) in the (Holy) Spirit (responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit); then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh... (The Amplified Bible)Our flesh is weak. It wants whatever is comfortable, even if that's not the right thing. Average settles for comfort, while amazing strives for correct.
The easiest way to think about this is to think of the Bible as our guidebook that will help us to live the right kind of lifestyle. Sarah talks about how her dog doesn't struggle to walk on the path that's laid before her, just as we shouldn't struggle to walk down the path that's laid before us by God. Love that idea! She also busts the misconception that being a Christian must be hard and boring. That's great news for all of the sour Christians out there! ;-)
Alright, we know where to find our guidelines for right and wrong, but how do we know whether or not we're following those guidelines and living the lifestyle that God has set out before us? The Bible talks about that too!
But the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit (the work which His presence within accomplishes) is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)... (Galatians 5:22-23, The Amplified Bible)Did those verses make anyone pause a little bit? They definitely made me a little uncomfortable because I know that I haven't been bearing too much fruit lately! The good news is that no one is perfect, and once we acknowledge and confess our slip ups, God forgives us, we can forgive ourselves, and move on. Phew!! Also, Sarah points out something that I've never really thought of. We were born to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit easily, so don't think of being kind or patient as something to struggle with, but relax into it and find those traits becoming part of your normal makeup and behavior.
One last thing for you to keep in mind is that if all of this overwhelms you or is new to you, or even if you just need a refresher on how to get started living the right kind of life, then remember that Jesus gave us one simple commandment: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). If you do those two things, then you're well on your way to becoming amazing!
Today's challenge: Pick up the Bible and go in search of practical life tools that you can build a good lifestyle on. When you find them, make a note of it, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you do it! If you don't know where to start, try using the keyword search feature on a website like biblegateway.com, which will help you find verses related to the topic you want to learn more about.