God does not accept false worship. You know, the kind of worship where you are watching the clock and waiting for it to strike high noon. Just as he was upset with the Israelites about performing sacrifices only for tradition’s sake, He doesn’t like halfhearted worship. He wants our full attention and He deserves it. God inhabits the praises of His people. But not that shallow stuff. 3 songs, prayer, collection, sermon, prayer and we are good for the week. Not so, my brothers and sisters. God has something to say to us, give Him your time and your full attention. He is looking at your heart. Have you falsely accused? Have you caused someone else to have to carry a part of your load? Have you encouraged anyone today? Have you given any charitable donations or worked in a local ministry to feed or clothe the poor and needy? If not, then God does not consider that you have worshiped Him properly. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to show you where he needs you to work in His kingdom. Practice this and you will look forward to meeting with the Lord anytime, anywhere. Then the joy of your salvation will be restored.
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.–Col. 3:14-17 (NLT)
Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.–Col. 3:8-12 (NLT)
As Christ becomes more real to us, and as we learn to be obedient to the urging of His Spirit abiding in us, we realize more and more, the weaknesses we have and our inability to control them. Until we can say “I can’t but Jesus can”, we will always have these temptations of the flesh. We have to allow Jesus to control our urges and desires. The more we allow Him to do so, that much more of our sinful nature is stripped away and we put on more of His nature. It doesn’t matter what your ethnicity or your past is. The only thing that matters is Christ in us. Since we are God’s holy people, we must clothe ourselves with His characteristics. Love, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience is what Jesus looks like. What about us, what do people see when they look at us?
41 “Then the king will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’ 44 “They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ 45 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’ Matthew 25:41-45 (God’s Word Translation)
I cannot read these verses without being reminded of how little I do for others. True, my resources are very limited, but it is also true that if we have a home in which to live, food for today and tomorrow, and one extra set of clothing, we are richer than 80% of the world’s population.
How much is too much? How little is too little? These are questions we all need to talk to God about and let Him answer those questions for us. I think how we receive those answers from God will go a long way in showing us where our hearts and our treasures lie. What would happen if we really and truthfully depended on God to supply our every need? Could we, would we do it? The apostles did. 7 He called the twelve apostles, sent them out two by two, and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing along on the trip except a walking stick. They were not to take any food, a traveling bag, or money in their pockets. 9 They could wear sandals but could not take along a change of clothes. Mark 6: 7-9 (God’s Word Translation)
I am probably going too far with this (something that I usually do when I am researching and meditating on topics), but I sometimes feel conviction when I open my closet door and see clothes hanging there that I haven’t worn this year (and probably not last year, either). And, even though I have a very small refrigerator and pantry, I have food that I could share. Especially this time of year with the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approaching, as well as the cold weather that is coming. Material things, in and of themselves, are neutral, but our attitudes, thoughts, and our ultimate actions regarding those things are not neutral.