My dad and I used to go out to breakfast every Tuesday morning when I was in High School. We’d wake up 5:30a and drive to Bob Evans. If you’ve never had Bob Evans, you don’t know what you’re missing. They have biscuits and brown gravy that is to die for! It’ll change your life. I remember my weekly order: 2 Biscuits with a bowl (yes, a whole bowl) of brown gravy, home fries, and hot coffee. I’m salivating at my desk just thinking about it.
A lot of times on our breakfast outings, my dad would invite someone else to go along. It was always fun having guests accompany us on our breakfast mornings. Old guys have good stories and I was always the youngest one at the table, so I was always hearing good stories. Not to mention, my dad’s friends loved talking to me about me. And let’s be honest, everybody likes to talk about themselves. I loved when we had guests at breakfast, because it often meant I’d get to brag on myself in answering their questions.
One of my dad’s friends was a man named Kevin. Kevin was a character, but Kevin knew how to make you feel special. Have you ever been around someone that treats you like you’re the most important person in the world? And you leave that conversation feeling like a million bucks? This is what breakfast with Kevin is like. He has a unique gifting to always direct the conversation back to you… No matter where the conversation goes, Kevin has a way of always getting back to taking an interest in whoever he’s talking to. If holding a conversation was an art, Kevin was a master. Every time I left breakfast after he joined us, I felt on top of the world, encouraged, and ready to take on the day. I’ll never forget Kevin because of the way he made me feel.
It’s easy to be self-absorbed. Our self-made, self-obsessed, and selfie-taking culture breeds pride, arrogance, and selfishness. We are quicker to talk about ourselves and our accomplishments because we want people to know how special and great we are. We find clever ways to work into conversation how much money we make, the experiences we’ve had, or how #blessed we are. Admit it, you think you’re pretty awesome.
I’ve found, however, that nothing will ruin a relationship quicker than talking about yourself. Most people don’t care how much you make or where you’ve travelled in the world. Most people just want to know that you care about them. And if you want to help people find and follow Jesus, you need to get better at the art of engaging with people in what matters to them.
Jesus used fisherman language when calling the first disciples. He told parables and used everyday illustrations that his listeners could relate to. He took time out of his day to talk with people that society had rejected. Every time Jesus opened his mouth, he was communicating to people that they mattered. Jesus knew how to encourage and make someone feel like a million bucks - because he spoke their language and talked about them.
The apostle Paul had learned the importance of knowing what matters to people as well. He writes,
I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1st Corinthians 9:22)
Paul knew that he had to discover what mattered to people so that he could save some by introducing them to Jesus.
So here’s my encouragement to you today… Stop talking about yourself and start talking about what matters to other people. Ask them about their kids. Ask them how they met their spouse. Find out what their hobbies are. When someone starts telling you a whole bunch of information about bird-watching, you’ll know you’re making progress. Just talk to them about them… Be like my friend Kevin and always look for ways to navigate the conversation back to them.
Because if you take interest in them enough times, eventually, you’ll be able to navigate the conversation to Jesus.
If you’ve known me for anytime at all, you know that I’m huge fan of the Andy Griffith Show. In fact, I named my son Griffith in honor of the show. Everyday after school I used to come home, make a bowl of Ramen Noodles, open a bag of Doritos, and head to Mayberry for the afternoon. I love everything about the show! But the show would not be what it is without the bumbling deputy, Barney Fife.
On more than one occasion, Andy and Barney are featured in newspaper articles where they captured some criminals. And almost every time they make the headlines, somebody gets Barney’s name wrong. Bernie Fife. Barney Fike. Bernard Fise. As kind as Barney is, he always wants to be known and recognized. He wants people to know his name and get his name right. In fact, whenever Barney reads these misprints, he often boils with rage and always calls the newspaper to let them know their mistake.
Barney wants his name said… And chances are, you do too. A name communicates that we have value. It communicates that we belong and that we have an identity. Why do you think parents take such care in picking out a name when their baby is born? Because names are important.
However, as we get older, it seems like we put less and less emphasis on names. We say things like, “Hey you!”, or “Hey fella.” And these generic greetings don’t communicate value and honor - they communicate obscurity. Many of us are okay with saying, “I’m not good with names.”
But what if that’s a major reason we aren’t reaching as many people for Jesus as we’d like? If names communicate honor and value, don’t you think it’s the least we could do to begin building a relationship with someone in hopes that they come to know Jesus? In fact, Jesus was one for using names:
When we use someone’s name, it’s a way to make things personal because it communicates value and honor. It may seem like a small thing, but it has a big impact! Everyone likes to hear their name said.
So if you want to get better at names, here’s some practical steps you can take:
1. When you first learn the name, say the name out loud. “My name is Peter… Hi PETER, nice to meet you.” Repetition will help with the learning process.
2. Utilize your notes app… I often keep a name note where I write down people’s name to study later.
3. Pray for the name… Right after meeting someone, say a quick prayer for them.
4. Utilize a mnemonic device. If you watch the Office, Michael Scott might be of some help to you with this one :)
5. Discover the story behind the name. Everyone has a story. And if you ask the right questions you can learn who that person is, not just their name.
Names communicate value and honor. And if you want to get personal with others, it starts by learning their name. It’s a simple practice, but it creates a big impact!
If you want to learn more about learning names and why it’s important check out the book It’s Personal. If you have your own tricks for learning names, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Four years ago my wife and I stayed up way past our bedtime because we couldn’t stop watching the results of the election. I remember vividly saying late into the night, “Oh my goodness… He’s gonna do it.” I was as shocked as everyone else when President Trump won. I remember seeing the tweets and the posts from friends who were convinced the world was now over. To be fair, some of my other friends would have responded the same way had Hilary Clinton won. But, four years later we are still here. And I believe we would still be here if she had won as well. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or Hilary Clinton who is writing the story of history. Jesus is.
And that’s easy to forget. As followers of Jesus we live in this tension that can often be hard to navigate. We have our beliefs and convictions that we feel strongly about but, there’s always that one candidate who seems to be the antithesis of those convictions. If Trump wins, we are doomed. If Biden wins we are doomed. But we easily forget that whoever wins has a term limit. But Jesus doesn’t.
I love what Dr. Derwin Gray tweeted the other day:
The November 3 election is important. But the most important Election took place in eternity past when God the Father elected Jesus to be the world's Redeemer and Savior.
Friends, the real election has already been won. Jesus, through His victory on the cross and His victory over death and the grave has already declared the winner… And it’s Him. No politician or government philosophy will provide true joy and salvation. No man made ideals or systems can save you and provide what you’re searching for. Only Jesus does that.
So, as you wait in the long lines at the polls today, remember this: No matter what happens, Jesus has already won. If Trump wins, you’re gonna be okay. If Biden wins, you’re gonna be okay.
The church of Jesus Christ has not pressed on through tyrannical rule, pandemics, dispersions, and persecution for 2000+ years to be defeated now. No, the hope of the Gospel will continue to permeate, saturate, and inundate our hearts if we remember to place our trust in the victory of Jesus. Listen to Jesus’ victory speech given through the pen of the Apostle Paul:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who GIVES US THE VICTORY through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Paul knew that not even the power of death can keep us from the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus. So, when you panic because your candidate loses today… Remember that this is simply a blip in eternity and that you’ve already won if you are in Christ. And when you frame your life around the victory of Jesus, you can carry on with life. You can love, serve, and even build relationships with people you disagree with. You can speak joy in a world of despair. You can be love in a world of hate. You can give hope in a world of doom. In fact, that was Paul’s encouragement to us immediately following the description of death’s death. He writes,
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
So, go do your civic duty and vote for the man you’ve prayed for and believe will be the best representation of the Kingdom of God, but do so knowing that the ultimate victory has already been won. And Jesus is the Victor.
A few years ago my dad was going through a building campaign at his church in Indiana. In their efforts to raise money for their new building, they launched a vision series entitled A Place at the Table. Their vision was to see more open seats for people to join Jesus at His table. In one of those messages my dad wrote,
When you were a toddler you sat in a high chair or at the kid’s table and you wanted a place at the adult table with the big people. And then you went to school and you needed to fit in and you wanted to belong and the school cafeteria made it clear whether you were accepted or not if you had a place at the table. And then adulthood came and you worked and contributed and tried to survive and make your opinions known and when it came to how things should be done you just wanted to be heard and have a place at the table in your life pursuits. And as you got a little older you started to realize the beauty and importance of family and you would give just about anything to have that place at the table together with your family as you go through life.
Any of those scenarios ring true for you? Or maybe worse, do all of them sound familiar? As we go through life, we all want to be accepted. We want relationship and community. We want to know that we have people that we can rely on and people who rely on us. Having a place at the table is important to us. The need and desire to be seated at the table will often dictate and control our emotions and our actions whether we admit or not.
Sadly, so many of us go through life feeling like we have no place at the table. We’ve been chewed up and spit out too many times and we have believed the lie that we are unworthy. We’re not good enough. And nobody wants anything to do with us. So we give up. We throw in the towel simply because of what we think others say and think about us.
Too often we feel neglected and distant from the table because people have pulled the chair out from under us and kept us distant. In fact, I would argue that the majority of people who don’t like Jesus, don’t like Him because of how other people have treated them. And Jesus has something to say to those who prevent others from coming to the table.
One day Jesus was walking through the Temple and he saw some corrupt practices going on. There were some money changers who were profiting on people who simply wanted to worship God. They made it too expensive for these worshippers to ever dream of having a place at the table… When Jesus sees this he expresses some righteous anger and actually begins flipping over all the tables in the Temple… Read the whole thing in Mark 11:15-18 and see how Jesus expresses His anger!
But here’s the bottom line — Jesus overturns the tables because people were keeping other people from His table. In other words, Jesus will not let someone else limit your access to Him. In fact, He went to even greater lengths than just turning over some tables… He went to the cross. And on the cross, Jesus says to each of us…
“I don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done or how you’ve failed. My sacrifice, my new covenant is for you, the ground is level here and you have a place at the table.”
You see, Jesus breaks down the barriers and the caste systems and the pretense and the self importance and He forgives AND gives you A PLACE AT HIS TABLE.
So there’s two brief points of application in all of this:
First, don’t be that person that keeps people from God. Jesus will get mad. And He will respond accordingly. Instead, focus on being like Jesus and bringing more people to the table.
Second, don’t believe the lie that you’re not wanted at His table. He died for you. He loves you. And He wants nothing more than to be in relationship with you. And if you want a place at His table, we would love nothing more than to walk with you to your seat and help you in any way we can.
On Sunday we talked about scams. Nobody likes to be scammed. I’ve heard horror stories of people losing thousands of dollars because they believed someone who pretended to be something they weren’t… But if we zoom in a little bit, most of us would admit that we run a scam everyday. We try to scam God, the people around us, and ourselves. We don’t do it intentionally, but we all do it.
I’m no psychologist, but I recently read an interesting article about Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance refers to the ability for humans to hold certain beliefs, yet do actions that go directly against those beliefs (AKA - a scam… I say one thing, but I do another). The presence of Cognitive Dissonance will often cause feelings of unease or discomfort because inside we recognize the difference between who we say we are and what we do.
You’ll see this all around: It’s the politician who opposes prostitution but is caught with a high priced call girl (A call girl isn’t REALLY a prostitute). It’s the addict who insists he/she is sober because they aren’t using that drug anymore, but has instead switched to a less harmful substance. It’s when you get denied for your dream job, and then tell everyone it was a dead-end job and the interviewer was a jerk anyways. To put it in more simple terms, it’s the process of self-justification.
Most of the time it happens unconsciously… In fact, it works better that way. Imagine if we said to ourselves, “Okay self… I’m going to convince you that, even though he’s not, this person is idiot, so that you feel better about being rejected….” Instead, we just do it without thinking about the process - “I was rejected because that guy is an idiot.”
One author writes, “The talent for self-justification is surely the greatest achievement of the human brain. When it comes to justifying actions, every human being acquires the intelligence of an Einstein, the imagination of a Shakespeare, and the subtlety of a Jesuit.”
Let’s be real… We all do it. We all run scams on ourselves. We run scams on God. And we run scams on others. Our heart says “We want this, so we should go for it…” But our moral compass says, “Nope that’s not what you need.” And this tension is where a scam become inevitable. The only way to fix this problem, is to cure the source of the problem… The human heart.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick. Who can understand it? (17:9).
So if that’s true, what do we do? It kind of wrecks the whole life philosophy of “Follow Your Heart,” doesn’t it?
What if, instead of following our heart, we surrendered our heart to follow God? In other words, don’t follow your heart (which is deceitful and will leave you feeling the discomfort of saying one thing, but doing another), but surrender that heart to the Lordship of Jesus. Jon Bloom says,
Note that Jesus did not say to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe in your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).
If you want to quit running a scam on yourself and everyone around you, it starts by being honest with yourself. Remember that your heart will always tell you what you want, not what you need. It does not have your best intentions in mind.
So, listen to your heart, yes, but only so you can know yourself better. And then surrender that knowledge of yourself to God so that He can transform and change your heart to be more like Him.
Running a scam may work for a bit, but before long the desires of your heart will overpower the front you’re putting up. Instead, quit pretending you’re perfect, quit running the heart scam, and with brutal honesty and transparency, give that heart to Jesus.
I have not yet arrived, but I try very hard to live a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism is the idea that we are to live with less so that we have time for more. I listen to podcasts and read books about how to be a better minimalist, how to be a minimalist with kids, and how to decrease the amount of clutter in your house. I have about 7 T-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, and 4 dress shirts that I cycle through each week. I love everything about minimalism.
But I’m not always great at it. Because there is this very powerful drive to always get new items. New shirts, new shoes, new cars, new games, new furniture, and new pants… I love getting new things. I love the research that goes into purchasing new items, I love opening the box of a new iPhone, and I love planning out how I will care for my new car. Part of this love of new things comes from our materialistic culture - companies know us better than we know ourselves and they know how to market to us. But this desire for new things and more things doesn’t mix well with my desire to be a minimalist. At some point, I must choose which way of life I’m going to live by.
And the same is true when it comes to being made new in Christ. We can’t hold onto our OLD life while looking for NEW life in Christ. We love the idea of new, but we are often drawn back into the old. Let's be real... We struggle to let go of the past. And we try to fix ourselves with solutions that were never meant to fix us. Jesus spoke to this reality and he told us to not let it happen:
Mark 2:21-22 says,
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
You see, new and old don’t mix well together. My desire to live a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mix well with our culture’s incessant need for more. And our desire to be made new in Christ, doesn’t mix well with the temptation of living in our old way of life.
The truth is, and that I pray everyone accepts and believes, Jesus wants to make you new. He doesn’t want you to be burdened by regulation and tradition, shame and guilt, or that sin habit you can’t seem to break. He wants to make you totally and completely new... Not by using an old patch or old leather, but by giving you new life instead.
But we can’t have a foot in both camps. Being made new will require total surrender to who He’s forming you into. It might mean tough conversations with friends or family. It will mean slowing down and processing before responding. And it will definitely mean a transformation in your thoughts, mind, and actions.
But the reward of fully accepting the new and letting go of the old is worth the discomfort. It’s worth the self-denial and the tough conversations. Because when you surrender the old for the new, you are entering into an eternal relationship with Jesus forever. So, quit trying to fix new problems with old solutions … Instead, surrender that old life to Jesus and be made totally new.
As you reflect on being made new today, check out this song. This song has ministered to me on more than one occasion as an encouragement to let Jesus make me new.
If everything you love and hold dear was taken away from you tomorrow, could you still have joy?
Every single day we are inundated with “gospels” that tell us what we need to find true lasting joy. Tyler McKenzie, lead minister at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville KY has compiled a list of some of these popular “gospels” that each of us are tempted to put our hope and trust in:
The Pursuit of Happiness
Make America Great Again
Living the Dream
The American Dream
Restore the Soul of America
The Good Life
And the list could go on. Every single day, we have thousands of companies, individuals, and thought leaders competing for attention and our loyalty. And if we can just climb to the next level of society, if we can just buy this latest technology, or this new car, then we can be happy and have true joy.
But how’s that working out for you? As you continually climb the ladder of societal success, have you found more joy? Or are you still chasing it?
Paul, the apostle, had everything. He had status, power, and reputation. But he learned that those things didn’t matter. They promised joy, but they left him empty. Instead, Paul had learned a secret about joy that many of us would do well to learn as well.
Paul had learned that the secret to joy lies in something beyond what this world can offer. Here’s how he puts it in his letter to the Philippians:
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little (Philippians 4:11-12).
Paul lets his readers know that no matter his circumstances, whether he has plenty or nothing, he’s found the secret to joy no matter what. Isn’t that something we all long for? A secret to joy that isn’t stolen by a pandemic or political unrest? A secret to joy that isn’t tied to a political leader or the success of any particular political party? A secret to joy that isn’t in bed with wealth and power?
If Paul has a secret that promises joy in all circumstances, then I want in on the secret. Lucky for us, he shares it with us.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
Ahhh… This famous verse. The one that is often taken #straightouttacontext. Notice how the meaning of this verse changes in light of Paul’s circumstances. This verse isn’t about learning to fly or winning the game… Paul’s secret to joy is about staying close to Jesus who gives him strength to endure every situation in life. Paul’s secret to joy is THE GOSPEL that promises perfect love with God the Father for all of Eternity.
And when that is your goal and purpose in life, you can have joy no matter what… Because the worst thing that could happen to you is death. But death, in the kingdom of God, leads to resurrection and eternal love with the Father.
So, if you want true lasting joy, you won’t find it any of the “gospels” listed above… It will only be found in the world changing love of Jesus. Cling to that and you’ll find joy.
I read a lot… But I don’t necessarily enjoy it. I really have to force myself to pay attention and I can only tackle small chunks at a time (unless I’m reading Harry Potter… that story gripped me like no other!). Given my need to endure through reading, it’s ironic that I’m currently reading a book called Endurance.
It’s written by Alfred Lansing and if you’ve read it, you know that it’s a page turner. It’s the story of Ernest Shackleton and his team of men who set out to explore Antartica in 1914. The title of the book is fitting for two reasons… First, the ship upon which they sailed to Antarctic (specifically engineered to withstand and battle the arctic elements) was called the Endurance. Second, because the mission quickly failed, the Endurance sunk, and the men had to endure the harsh elements for months on end floating on a giant piece of ice.
As I’ve read through the story, I’ve been blown away at the lengths to which these men went in order to survive. From eating seal blubber to sleeping in soaking wet clothes in sub-zero temperatures, these men endured to the very end.
This story fascinates me because I’m not sure this will to survive and endure is something many of us exercise anymore. We switch from show to show until we are satisfied. We move from relationship to relationship until we feel loved. And we jump from job to job until we finally “arrive” at whatever status or income we are chasing. You don’t see too many people sticking it out with the same spouse for 50 years or staying at the same job for 30+ years. We don’t know how to endure anymore.
Even more, we are often weakest when it comes to spiritual endurance. Maybe you tried to get sober, but the temptation was just too strong. Maybe you tried to quit watching pornography, but our sexualized culture keeps pulling you back in. Maybe you want to spend time with God everyday, but something always comes up. Maybe you’d really like to love your neighbor, but there’s too many other things fighting for your attention. Spiritual endurance is tough.
But it’s worth it.
Why? Because the reward of being with and knowing Jesus is far better than any temporary relief of pain we might experience by not enduring. It’s far better than any temporary dopamine rush that might satisfy our appetites for a few quick seconds. The reward of knowing and being with Jesus is eternal.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians knew why he endured. According to chapter 3 verse 12, he endured so that one day he might receive the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And later, in verses 20-21 we see that the prize is not only being with Jesus, but a total renewal and redemption of our world and bodies. Paul knew that the pain of endurance was worth the prize of Jesus.
But how do we endure? The best way I know to answer that is to keep your eyes on Jesus. We endure only when we can see beyond our current circumstances to our future reward. For many of us, this will require a change in mindset. We can no longer only be focused on the Here and Now, but rather we need to think Here and There. A Here and There mindset acknowledges the reality of the pain we experience here everyday… But it looks forward to the day when that pain is no more (Philippians 3:20-21).
So, in a year that’s been rough and tough and full of hardship, can I encourage you today? I want to encourage you to endure. To set your eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him ENDURED the cross. And what was the joy set before Him?
Well… He died for you.
Which leads me to believe that the joy for which He endured the cross was reconciliation with you. Jesus endured the most humiliating painful death, because He wanted the joy of being with you for eternity. He endured to experience the joy of no more evil, the resurrection of the dead, and new life to all who believe. And when you know that He is the reward waiting for you, hopefully you can endure as well.
Humility is hard. It’s not something that comes naturally but is something we have to work at and daily decide to pursue. If we don’t intentionally choose humility, we will often make life about ourselves. We will focus on number one, before we can even think about you. And we will worry about Me, Myself, and I before we can worry about someone else. Humility is hard.
But according to the apostle Paul, it’s necessary for joy. In Philippians 2, Paul tells us to make his joy complete by being unified (v. 2). Then, he tells us how to be unified. By being humble. By not trying to impress others. By loving others (v. 3-4).
Sometimes I don’t like Scripture. Because it confronts me with areas of personal weakness. And if I’m being honest, I don’t like what Paul is telling me I need to do as a follower Jesus. Because humility is hard.
He surely doesn’t mean that I should hold back on what I share on Facebook? Surely, he doesn’t mean that I should engage in civil conversation rather than attacking and demonizing those I disagree with. Surely, he doesn’t think that I should slow down so that my calendar has pace to love others. Surely, he doesn’t think that I should make other people my priority over my own priorities. Please, Paul, tell me this means something else.
Nope. It’s pretty simple this time.
There’s no getting around this with fancy literary analysis and “this only applies to the first century” rationalization. No…Paul wants us to be humble. And why? Because it’s the way of Jesus (Just read Philippians 2:5-11 and you’ll see). So, how do we do that? How do we fight against our natural disposition to think of ourselves and be humble towards others instead?
Let me suggest a few ideas that you can begin implementing today.
#1 Shut Up
You don’t always have to be the one talking. You don’t always have to make sure your opinion is heard. Next time you want to respond with a zinger and let people know how smart you are, just don’t. Stop typing and close your mouth. When we shut up, it allows us to actually hear and listen to the other points of view and perspectives that are out there. So, try listening… Maybe you’ll learn something.
#2 Reach Out
Have you ever received an encouraging note or compliment that made your day? You know why it made your day? Because someone took the time to notice you. And it feels good. Repay the favor. Reach out to a friend. Compliment a stranger. Let someone know you’re thinking and praying for them. This seems simple, but it helps move your focus from yourself to someone else.
#3 Look In
Sometimes we aren’t aware of how we are feeding our pride. To recognize and understand ourselves, sometimes we have to do some soul-searching. Spend some time with pen and paper and write down the things in life that fuel your pride. These are things that you would feel lost without. Maybe it’s personal or family image (we often put so much pressure on our loved ones to be a certain “type”). Maybe it’s a career, finances, or status that we’ve worked our whole life for. What is it in your life that you prioritize above all else? Awareness of those things can help you control and manage your pride around them.
Basically, just don’t be obsessed with yourself. Listen to what others say. Admit that you might not have all the answers. Take an interest in others. Compliment them, love them, and serve them. Finally, be honest with yourself about what you love and what you prioritize, because that may be the source of your pride.
One final thought that I’m stealing from Michael Todd, Lead Minister of Transformation Church in Tulsa, OK.
1 Peter 5:6 (NLT) says,
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
Notice the action is on us… We are told to humble ourselves. Because when you humble yourself, you never have to be humbled. We can avoid a lot of pain and give others a lot of joy if we just focus on humbling ourselves in same way as Christ Jesus.
It’s pretty obvious when you love something or someone. Talk to me for any amount of time and you’ll be sure to hear about my love for Eric Church Music, a nice canvas or leather bag, Apple Products, The Andy Griffith Show, my son Griffith, or my wife Bailey. When you love someone or something, you express that love. You let the world know, “Hey… This is my person. These are my hobbies. This is what I do. This is what I love.”
Or, to quote Buddy the Elf, “I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!”
Here’s the deal, our love should be accompanied by expression. If I say I love my wife, but don’t remember her birthday, don’t take her on dates, don’t do the dishes after a hard day, and generally disrespect her, do I really love her? Love should always be accompanied by action.
If you’re familiar with the story of Peter in the Bible, you may know that Jesus essentially tells him the same thing. Right before Jesus was crucified, Peter (who had professed love over and over again) fails to stand up for Jesus in His greatest hour of need. In fact, he flat out denies knowing Jesus.
Then Jesus came back to life and greeted Peter. Talk about awkward. But, Jesus was not trying to make Peter feel bad. Instead, Jesus asks him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” And every time Peter replied, “Yes.” Here’s how Jesus responded; “Then feed my sheep.”
In other words, “Don’t just say it… Show it.”
Love is always accompanied by expression. Years later the apostle Paul would write in his letter to the Philippians, “Work hard to show the results of you salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” This is not about working to earn God’s salvation, but about working because we love God. Because He has saved us.
So the question goes to you, now… Do you love Jesus? And what are you doing to show it? What action is accompanying your declaration of love?
Here’s my encouragement for you today: Make it a point to show your love for Jesus today. You can do this by serving someone else, by being generous, by spending time with God in prayer and Scripture, or by connecting with a friend and letting them know what Jesus means to you.
“Do you love me?” Jesus asks… “Then feed my sheep.”