Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Do They See When They Look at Us?

     Having worked in a number of job positions during my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to observe people as they interact with others.  There have been many bright spots through the years where I have witnessed acts of kindness as well as people willing to go the second mile to help another.  However, I have also seen the flip side, and this is what concerns me the most.  This should make all of us pause and reflect on our daily behavior because whether we like it or not we are painting a picture of Jesus Christ by our actions.  Those outside the Christian faith are watching.
So what are some examples that we can consider?
     While looking for a parking spot near the grocery store the other day, I saw someone with Jesus stickers all over the back of their vehicle hurriedly zip into a parking spot that someone else had signaled for.  It does not appear to be a big deal unless you are the person who had your turn signal on who was waiting for the spot.  Maybe we should be careful where we put our Jesus stickers if we are going to rush to the head of the line skipping others who have bided their time.  It isn't a criminal act, but what sort of witness was that?
     I am not certain if it is just grocery stores that tend to bring out the bad side in folks, but I have also seen people become irate over the price of something that was advertised.  The poor cashier must listen patiently to the person carry on when they have nothing to do with the pricing of an item.  Sadly, some of the people who do the loudest complaining are "good" church folks.  When we see this, we tell ourselves they are just having a bad day, but it is also a bad witness.  Demanding our way, using our friendships to try to get what we want, speaking ill of a brother or sister, demonstrating lack of respect for others are all symptoms of spiritual immaturity.  Whenever the flesh is in control, damage can be done to a relationship with a friend in Christ and can also keep those outside the faith from wanting to draw nearer.  What a frightful responsibility we have been given!  Christ lives in us so that we may be light in this dark world.  But our light grows very dim when we behave like everyone else in this dog eat dog world.
     Jesus told us in John 13:34-35:  "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  How we treat one another in every day contact, business relationships and church fellowship tells a lot about how well we are keeping this commandment of our Lord.  Even when we think no one is looking or cares, God is observing our behavior.  We cannot hide from His eyes.
     In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul admonishes believers to avoid the sins of the flesh and be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-17).  We are not to be involved in sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, no foolish talk, crude joking or filthy language.  Instead, Paul urges us "walk as children of the light" and to "discern what is pleasing to the Lord" (vs 8-10).  In fact, we are to expose darkness for what it is.  As Paul concludes his encouragement, he writes in verses 15-16:  "Look carefully then how you walk, not
as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."  As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to live a higher standard.
     How we behave in our every day life at work, at play and in our homes says a lot about the condition of our heart.  We may go to church every Sunday, but if we live like a heathen all week, what does this do to our testimony?  Certainly none of us is perfect and daily, we must depend on the Holy Spirit to guide and help us.
     Let us do some self examination.  Do we demand our rights?  Do we speak ill of someone else or their business?  Are we courteous and kind when dealing with those around us?  We need to remember that others are watching us to see if our actions line up with what we say we believe about Christ.  Yet, the most important observer of all our interactions is God Himself.  May we live to bring glory to His name and shine brightly in this dark world rather than merely blending in.  Selah!

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