I think we can all agree that there is a difference between saying something and proving something. When we were kids, we all had that friend that told tall tales. He was related to famous people. He was going to be on TV. He had a hundred dollars. You name it, he either did it or had it. After a while, we found the phrase, “Prove it!” It turns out, he could tell you just about anything, but he couldn’t prove any of it. Without proof, we had no reason to believe the things he said.
When I was younger, I heard someone ask, “If you were to be convicted of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?” That’s a tough question we should all think about. A court can’t convict anyone unless there is some form of evidence against them. In some cases, that evidence comes from first hand witnesses. Other times it comes from physical evidence left behind. What evidence are you leaving behind for others to know you are a Christian? Can eye witnesses tell by how you live that you’re a Christian?
In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist was out at the river baptizing people when the religious leaders came to take a look. One of the things he said to them was, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (NLT). He knew they were manufacturing false evidence to try to prove they were righteous, but their lives contradicted that evidence. Jesus later said they were whitewashed tombs. They looked good on the outside, but were full of death on the inside.
Today’s devotion is not to say that you earn salvation by your works – that’s what the religious leaders were trying to do. It’s saying when you truly experience the power of God in your life, it changes you. Your life changes inside and out. You find that going to church isn’t evidence that you’re a Christian – living for God is. When you experience the power of salvation, you begin to leave evidence everywhere that you have repented and followed Christ. My challenge to you today is to take an honest look at the evidence in your life. What does it point to? Is it manufactured or is it natural from a changed heart and life?
Photo by Peter Dlhy on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I’ve stayed at a certain hotel chain enough that I’m Platinum Elite with them. One of the privileges that comes along with that status is called a Platinum Override. If I try to get a room in one of their hotels and it’s full, I can request a Platinum Override. They usually keep one or two rooms open for that, but if those are gone, they can bump another guest to make room for me. I’ve had to do that on a couple of occasions when I really needed a room and all the hotels were booked. When I apologize for asking for it, they remind me that I’ve earned that privilege with them.
I love how Philippians 2 talks about Jesus. It reminds us that He is God’s Son and had the privileges that come along with that. Verse 8 says, “Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion” (MSG). Jesus could have played His Platinum Override card when the time came to die, but He didn’t. He endured the suffering because of His love for you and me.
Philippians 2 also reminds us to be like Christ in this manner. We are to live selfless lives that aren’t intent on getting ourselves ahead at whatever cost. Instead, we are to help others get ahead. Verse 4 says, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Each of us have the ability lend a helping hand to someone else. There’s always someone else who is worse off than we are. Look for them today, put down your Platinum Override card and help them get ahead. In doing so, you’ll exhibit selflessness like Jesus.
Photo by Akshay Paatil on Unsplash
I had a conversation with a coworker recently about doing good for others. I told her that I believe each person has a void that needs to be filled. I can choose to put something positive in it or let them go about their lives and run the risk of someone putting something negative in it. I told her that I do my best to put positive things into other people’s lives whenever I have the chance. She replied, “My mind doesn’t think like that. I don’t think I really have anything to give so I don’t look for those opportunities.”
I assured her that she has a lot to give and that she needs to be more generous with the abilities she has. I’m afraid that so many Christians think along the same lines she does. They believe that because they’re not in front of a lot of people, they can’t make a difference. They think that they don’t have anything to give or offer others. They let the lie of “I’m a nobody” keep them from doing good for others. That’s just not true. If you are a Christian, you have everything and need to give it away freely.
The believers in the Corinthian church were falling for the same lie. It frustrated Paul because he knew better. In II Corinthians 6:11-13, he told them, “Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way… Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (MSG)” The only limits your life has when it comes to affecting others are the limits you self impose. Your life is bigger than you think. It’s far grander than you can imagine. It just seems small because you’re living it in a small way.
The way to open up and live a bigger life is through giving what you have. It can be the smallest of gestures that create the biggest impact. On one of my trips to Haiti, I was humbled as I watched one of our teenagers give a cup of cold water to a paralyzed orphan. All of the other kids and teens were out in the fields playing. She recognized that this child couldn’t go out there and also that they were thirsty. She left the “fun” in order to spend time with one who couldn’t be like all the other kids. That’s living expansively. She got a glimpse into the idea that she had something to offer even if it was a cup of water or a conversation.
Jesus gave us the example of true servanthood. He taught us how to invest in the lives of others through listening, sharing and giving. He knew that living an open and expansive life starts with giving of yourself. When we recognize as verse 10 says, “We own nothing, and yet we have everything,” then we will stop seeing our lives as small. We will start to see them as large, God created lives and begin to serve others in a way that points them to the cross. Your life has meaning. Your life is not small, so quit living life as if it were.