We need desire, not discipline, to do the things of God
Most Christians would agree on some of the important things we ought to do as part of our faith. I’m thinking of things such as prayer, reading the Bible or sharing our faith with others. If these are indeed important, then do you feel you do them enough?
Most would probably say no.
We know that prayer and reading the Bible are important for building up our faith and our relationship with God. We know we ought to share our faith with those who haven’t yet heard about it, because no one else can do it. So what can we do?
Many would say we need discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to put down the mobile phone, or switch off the TV set, and do the things we know we should be doing.
We need desire however, not discipline.
While discipline has its place, if we really want to get things done, we need a desire to do them. Discipline only goes so far, but ultimately we do the things we want to do.
Ask God to grow your desire to pray, to read the Word and to share your faith with others. When you have the desire, you won’t need the discipline.
We judge others by their behaviour, but ourselves by our intent.
It is interesting how we often treat ourselves one way, and others another. There are many areas where this is true, but consider behaviour versus intent.
As we encounter someone in life, we judge them by what they say and do. That’s not wrong necessarily, and by judge, I don’t mean look on them critically but rather just understanding them.
We cannot always determine their intent, but can see what their behaviour is like.
Sadly, we don’t assess ourselves in the same way. We consider our intentions and not our behaviour. When something goes wrong, we say things like “I never meant that to happen,” or “I didn’t mean to cause offense.” But we rarely extend the same grace to others.
If someone has hurt or offended you today, consider their intentions. Did they mean to do it, or were there reasons why it might have happened? It doesn’t diminish your hurt of course, but give them the benefit of the doubt.
Mostly intentions are good, even if behaviour doesn’t line up with it. You give yourself a break, so do the same for others.
Wisdom means making decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.
There are a number of definitions of wisdom I suppose, but I happen to like this one!
How often do we make choices one day, that we regret the next? Ultimately life is a series of choices and we must make ones that will benefit us, not harm us. It’s not always clear which is the right choice, so we must consider God’s will and about which choice is best not just for the here and now, but for the future also.
Take a simple example such as healthy eating. Perhaps you are someone who wants to lose weight, and even if not, you can still understand the point here. Do you eat the doughnut, or do you take the apple? In the moment, the doughnut may seem the most tempting, but consider not just how you feel now, but how you will feel later when standing on the scales or trying on new clothes.
Similarly, when making a purchase, it may be tempting right now, but will the monthly payments for the next four years really be what you want to do with your money?
Wisdom means choosing not what you want right now, but what will be best in the future. Make decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.
Love is not just an emotion; it’s a choice.
Hollywood has fooled so many young people (and not so young) into believing that true love is like a bolt from the blue. You gaze at someone from across the room and heart rate quickening, realise this is the “one” you’ve been waiting for…
I’m not unromantic, and very much believe that a loving relationship must have emotional elements. God did not make us to be robots who feel nothing, quite the contrary, we are people with strong emotions and passions.
When it comes to love however, and I mean any kind of love, not just the romantic kind, we cannot just wait until we “feel” it. While love is an emotion, it is primarily a choice.
So many relationships fade after a time, the couples saying they just don’t “feel love” for the other anymore. Emotions can fade away, and when they do, we had better ensure we have something more to rest on.
Perhaps you don’t feel like loving anyone today. Maybe you had a bad night, or worse a bad run in life recently. For whatever reason, you can always find an excuse not to act in a loving way.
Make the choice today to go beyond your feelings and choose love. Choose to be kind. Choose to encourage. Choose to be there for someone, irrespective of what your emotions are doing.
When we make the choice to love, our emotions will follow suit.
You can give without loving, but cannot love without giving.
The other day in London, I saw a homeless person asking for spare change in the train station. Many commuters walked by without even looking up, but a few dropped some small change into the person’s hand.
Of those who passed by, and even of those who gave, very few made eye contact and not one stopped to talk to them. Sometimes we can feel that we’ve done our part by putting some coins into a charity box or collection plate, and while i’m in no way suggesting giving isn’t a good thing, it isn’t always loving.
We can give small change like this, or even large sums, without actually loving people. But we cannot love someone – really love them – without giving them something important.
It may not be money of course, and might in fact be something as simple as our attention or time. We cannot love, without giving something of ourselves.
Like anything, giving can be done without love. When we love people as Jesus loved, we always give them something of value or of benefit to them.
Love someone today – give them your attention, encouragement, support, prayers or anything else they may need. You can make a positive impact on their day with something that costs you nothing.
If you know how to worry, then you also know how to meditate.
The word “meditation” can conjure up a mixture of images in our minds these days. For many, it refers to something like Buddist meditation, or some other form of this “spiritual” or “religious” practice.
For the Christian however, meditation means something quite different. Instead of focussing on ourselves, we focus on God and His Word. Meditation simply means to chew over or mull the meaning of a particular Scripture – the idea being to get every bit of goodness we can from it. It also enables the Word to get rooted deep down inside of us.
If you know how to worry, then you know how to meditate. Worrying is just negative meditation. Rolling a problem around your mind over and over. But instead of focussing on the problem, why not focus on something positive? Take a relevant Scripture and mull it over all day long. Just see what benefits you get from it. If nothing else, your mind will be on something useful.
Don’t worry, meditate!
If someone is gossiping to you, then there’s a good chance they are gossiping about you also.
We ought not to underestimate the hurt that gossip can cause. Even in Christian circles, gossip can be common and rarely given a second thought. Yet words spoken about another can cause intense pain.
Gossip doesn’t even have to be that damaging in order to be wrong. The truth is, if it has nothing to do with us, then we should not have an opinion about it.
I hear people say sometimes, “Oh, I never repeat gossip.” This is good, of course, but are you listening to it? We need to understand that if a person is gossiping to us about another person, then they are probably telling someone else about you.
Repeating gossip is wrong, but listening to it is not much better.
Do yourself a favour and don’t listen to words of gossip. If it’s not about you, then deliberately choose not to have an opinion about it. Be cautious who you spend time with, and what you discuss over coffee or around the water cooler.
May the Lord set a guard over your mouth, but over your ears also. God bless you.
Anger is a fire; while it can cook your dinner, it can also burn your house down.
We tend to think of anger as a bad thing, but it is not always so. When we think of anger in our society, it is usually out of control and directed towards the wrong things, but that doesn’t make it bad in itself.
When anger is directed towards injustice or sin, it drives us to action. This is a good thing. When we see someone being bullied, a child being mistreated or people in positions of power abusing their role, it is right for us to be angry and act.
That anger must be in control however, and must be in proportion.
What makes you angry? Is it directed towards the right things? If it is not in control, then you may need to get some help. Talk to God about this and He will guide you forward.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but rather the ability to wait well.
As I stepped on to the train platform, I saw an unusual number of people waiting. I immediately realised there was a delay of some kind. Looking at the boards, I saw that I had a 20-25 minute wait on my hands.
Standing at the edge of the platform, I looked up and down. Some people were huffing and puffing, others were criticising the lonely member of staff about the delay. Some read the newspaper, and others just got angry.
Every single person had to wait the exact same length of time for the train to arrive.
Waiting is not an option in such situations, but how we wait is. Patience is not about waiting, but how we conduct ourselves while we do so. How well do you wait?
From time to time, I’m going to put up a short post sharing a pearl or two of wisdom. I hope you find it useful!
If you are spending your time wondering what others think of you, “Do they like me?” “What do they think?” “What will they say?” – the truth is, they aren’t thinking about you at all… They are wondering what you think of them.
We spend a lot of time worried about what others think of us. Many times, the fear of what others think leads to our action or inaction. If only we realised that they are rarely thinking of us at all, but spending their own time and energy worrying about what you and others think of them.
We cannot lead our lives trying to make everyone else happy. If our decisions are driven by what others think, then we will never make a decision for ourselves. We should consider the counsel of others of course, but when we try to please people instead of God, we end up miserable.
What have you agreed to lately that you wished you hadn’t? If it was just to please someone else, then perhaps it’s worth reconsidering.