|Posted on July 4, 2020 at 2:05 PM|
Is our walk with the Lord anyone else’s business? As much as we would like it to be, the answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no. We live in a society that can be judgmental, and criticism without understanding often seem to be the rule rather than the exception. No one wants to hear someone else’s opinion about their personal life, and nothing is more personal to us than our relationship with God, so it’s easy to assume that it’s simply no one else’s business.
But while our relationship with God is deep, personal and permanent, and one that only He can judge, how we display that relationship in our day to day behavior is subject to speculation by a very critical world.
Scripture tells us to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). But who defines what is evil? And more importantly, is it the same today as it was when Paul communicated this in the New Testament days?
First we need to step away from the misconception that the word “appearance,” as it’s used here, means something that is seen with the eye. In this case the word literally translates more as “form.” So, the scripture is actually telling us to avoid any form of evil. Good advice no matter who you are.
Having said that, Jesus was very clear in His teachings that we need to lead others to Him by our example more than our words. In Matthew 17:24-27 He tells us Peter that in order to “not cause offense” they will pay their taxes. Jesus knew that allowing ourselves to be subject to government, following the rules, making decisions that reflect good morals and a strong sense of personal ethics speaks to our character. And our character is a direct reflection of God in us.
And, in Corinthians 8:9, we’re taught that we are to avoid doing things that others might think is wrong simply because it could cause another brother to stumble. Do we think that God doesn’t know that the world is going to be looking for a way to blame us, and so be hypervigilant to every little thing Christians say or do? Of course He knew that. Which is why He also knew the world would know us by our love. And that love is displayed by our willingness to give up our own little liberties for the greater plan of leading others to salvation.
We are called to lead a life that exemplifies the humility, sensitivity, honor and awareness of others that Jesus showed. Sometimes we have to give up our own rights for the good of others. The passage in Corinthians finishes by saying “beware lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”
The bottom line is that we Christians have a higher standard to live up to. In Romans 12 we’re told to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” That means those who believe as we do, and those who don’t. It takes some humility to recognize that we’re subject to the world’s opinion of us. But just remember that while you may be subject to its opinion, at the end of the day you’ll only answer to the judgement of God.
The world is watching, and we must be prepared to be a mirror that reflects the nature of our Father. Our finances need to be in order, we can’t cheat our employers on our timecards or by “borrowing” resources that don’t belong to us. We can’t lie to get out of sticky situations, and we can’t throw angry words and social media posts around like everyone else. We don’t have the luxury of being angry and belligerent when someone has wronged us, or being part of gossipy and unproductive chatter. Because we’re better than the rest of society? Not at all. It’s simply because we are called to a life that is a reflection of the God we serve.
Our Christian walk is the business of everyone around us because it is the tool that God uses to reach everyone around us. Everything we do is a testimony (bad or good). And if we have to sacrifice some of our personal freedoms to be God’s mouthpiece, we should be okay with that. Compared to the sacrifice that was already made for us, it’s a small enough price to pay.
Be blessed, my Friends. God is on the throne.