“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
I read this passage this morning. It’s a good reminder of what Christians have been given and what we have been saved from, and why that should translate into doing good for others.
God loved us when we were His enemies. We should strive to do the same. It’s a hard reminder, because the first gut reaction we often have is to fight back against anything that irritates us.
We shouldn’t be “hateful and hating one another” – what a horrible description of a person! Yet we are guilty.
I remember once walking into a thrift store in Ocala as as older couple was trudging out. The man and woman had harsh faces, beat and ugly. And they were muttering curses to each other.
“What a horrible place… nothing but %$%$ there.”
“They can’t even keep their #$#$#$35 clean. And the $#$#&6* prices. I #$%3$@## hate this thrift store.”
It was so ugly I was taken aback listening to them. They were miserable, living a life of hatefulness, where they couldn’t enjoy a shopping trip together without cursing everything and everyone.
And there was nothing really wrong with that thrift store. It wasn’t the best thrift store in the world, but we got some clothes and furniture there a few times, and they were always friendly. It was a typical thrift store, running on a shoestring budget and donating funds to mission work.
The perspective of that couple turned everything into misery and darkness and ugliness. They were “hateful and hating one another,” as Paul said.
I have caught myself doing the same thing. Having a bad day and getting more and more ugly in my thoughts and speech as my soul withers inside me.
It’s a human tendency. We have to remind ourselves of what we have been given.
If that couple had simply said, “well – no luck today, but at least we had a good excuse to be with each other!,” the day could have been reframed as a thing of value.
Time is of value. Marriage. Companionship. A chance to bless others, even.
Look – even if you are doing something you don’t like because something bad happened to you. Like, say, having to get your transmission repaired – guess what? – you can still be a blessing to others in it. You can talk with the people in the waiting room, compliment the mechanics on their shop, bring them donuts – whatever! Maybe someone needs prayer. Maybe someone needs a word of encouragement. Maybe someone else feels worse than you. In cheering them, you will cheer yourself.
We don’t know what pain people are going through.
Imagine what pain that angry couple may have suffered that twisted them. Perhaps it was just ungratefulness over decades of life. Or perhaps there was abuse, alcoholism, failure in business, a lost child – who knows?
Wherever you are, Christian, you are to be an ambassador of Christ and His Kingdom. Your citizenship is elsewhere. Every person you see has an immortal soul that will last beyond the bad days and this strange and tumultuous country. Invite them into the joy of a great and glorious Kingdom where love and joy abound instead of hate, misery, pain and evil.
I need to keep this in mind as life swirls around us. When I am frustrated and beat, I need to retreat to the arms of my Heavenly Father and say “Dad – please help. I am not doing a good job representing You.”
You can do this too, if He is your Father. You’re adopted into a better country and have full citizenship and a massive inheritance, and it wasn’t because you were good and special and nice.
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Do good, because good has been poured out on us! Brighten your heart and remember that everything belongs to the Lord including you. As you work in your garden, you are working in the Lord’s garden. As you rock your baby, remember that baby is the Lord’s. As you walk down the street, take care of work for your boss, hug your wife, fix a flat tire – all these things are the Lord’s. We’re just borrowing them for a while and need to do our best to keep them for their true Owner, and remember that He cares for the souls of everyone we meet.
If we do not show love, we are bad ambassadors. When we were evil, we were loved. People are rotten, but we have to love them anyways. We’re rotten too! I have so many words I wish I could take back…
…but here we are. And God is with us and loves us and will give us the power to have compassion. We represent Him.
Just my thoughts today as I prepare for a lot of work that needs to be done. Love you guys. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement.