An ongoing battle that every Christian faces is the one between the person you were before you met Jesus and the one you are now that you have met Him. Old temptations beckon. Old habits resurface. Old desires rekindle. Old loyalties divide. Old beliefs hinder. Old memories haunt. When you feel this tension, remember that you have a new identity, a new life and a new you because you believe in and belong to Jesus! You have been changed, are being changed and will be changed by His transforming grace. So fight the good fight of faith against sin as you rejoice in this today: that’s not you anymore.
Birds fly. Flowers bloom. Honey sweetens. Water dampens. Light illuminates. It’s automatic and appropriate that they do these things because that’s how they were made. This is their nature and design, and it is right to expect them to act in a certain way just as it is right to expect saving faith in Jesus to work itself out in love. It is normal. It is natural. When God’s grace remakes us into people of faith, the new love we have for God will burst forth in acts of love for others. We can’t help but love. We can’t stop loving. We will live this out imperfectly, but this is for sure: A faith that saves is a faith that loves.
One of the enemy’s biggest lies is convincing us to live as if this life is all there is. He wants us to prioritize and pursue things that won’t matter for long over things that will matter forever. But everything looks different when you look past the temporary to eternity. This place isn’t our home; we’re heading home. This life won’t last forever; the next life will. This treasure trove will fade away; the ones laid up in heaven have an everlasting shine. Yes, let us enjoy our time on earth and the things of earth as God means for us to do. But, even more, let us think, feel, speak and act as people who have set their sights on eternity.
When we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are free to have relationships that are not defined by comparing ourselves with others, but by caring for others. If our sense of personal worth comes from how God feels about us, treats us, and remakes us as His children, then we don’t have to prove ourselves in categories of better and worse, more and less, or ahead and behind in how we measure up against the people in our lives. Instead of ranking ourselves as better off than others or resenting others who we think are better off than ourselves, we can joyfully love and serve them as equal image-bearers of God.
This is the jaw-dropping reality of just how much you are worth: Jesus loves you, gave Himself for you and lives in you. Don’t you see? Your worth is not based on who you are; it is based on Whose you are. Your worth is not based on your performance; it is based on His. Your worth is not based on your making a name for yourself; it is based on the Name of the One who lives inside you. If you belong to Jesus, the old you is dead, and the life you now live carries a value that is not found in any personal achievement, accolade or attribute. You don’t have to prove your worth. Jesus already did that.
Faith in Jesus is followed by following Jesus in faith. Saving belief leads us to step off the throne, take off the crown, and let Jesus take over ruling our hearts and lives. We haven’t really put our faith in Jesus if we are indifferent to what He wants and resistant to what He says. That’s not trust. That’s a lack of trust. That’s mistrust. Real faith in Jesus makes us want to give up our sin and self-rule to follow His steps, His ways and His commands (although imperfectly executed) more fully over time. Why? Because we are confident that life His way is better than any other option, and that for eternal life He is the only option.
It’s not Sunday church clothes. It’s not a cross necklace. It’s not a t-shirt. Being a Christian is not something we put on and take off depending upon the place we are at, the position we are in, or the people we are around. We should strive by grace to speak, act and live in the same manner at all times, not picking and choosing when we let our Christianity be seen. People will know that we belong to Jesus not because of what we have on, but by how we love on those around us. 24/7 we are imperfect image-bearers of the One living in our hearts. Our identity is not something we wear, it’s something we are.
Christian is the adjective that should describe every category of our lives. We are Christian family members, Christian friends, Christian workers, Christian movie-goers, Christian neighbors, Christian drivers, Christian shoppers, and across all categories, Christian mistake-makers. Flawed, but forgiven. Imperfect, but improving. Unworthy, but unfinished. Knowing Jesus… Has changed, is changing and will change who we are and what we do as we grow to trust Him and be like Him more fully in more areas of our lives. A question we need to ask ourselves is this: Do I live as if Jesus is my life or just a part of it?
You are not someone else; someone else is not you. God has ordained that each of His children be equipped with gifts, abilities, opportunities and resources to fulfil a specific purpose in a specific place to a specific people. Some are more visible and more vast than others, but all are important. To avoid falling into the trap of comparison as we seek to live out the plans Jesus has for us in His kingdom, it is important for us to remember that the measurement of godly stewardship is not fruitfulness, but faithfulness. It is not the size of your platform that is most important; it is what you do with what you have been given.
You were made to influence the world for good in such a way that God gets the credit. God calls you. God prepares you. God sends you. God empowers you. God uses you. God rewards you. He gives you a platform to shine light into the surrounding darkness. He gives you a platform to salt the surrounding flavorlessness. Why? So others come into the light. So others taste the flavor. Christians are salty and shiny when they make God and His kingdom taste and look good through what we say and do, so that others find their way to happiness in Him and He is honored in them. Be salty. Be shiny. Be like Jesus.
Since trusting in Jesus is the basis for our hope of eternal life, how can we know that we really trust Him? The short answer is: we look for evidences that the trust we have in Him is changing us. Genuine saving belief never leaves you the same. We gradually become less like the world and more like Jesus as we follow Him in faith. Trusting Him leads to ongoing and loving… Repentance, because we believe what He offers is better than sin. Obedience, because we believe His ways are always good and right. Confidence, because we believe what He has promised us will happen. We believe. We change. That’s how we know.