Archive for July, 2013

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable” – Hebrews 4:13 (New Living Translation)

Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1 (NIV)

Someone once commented that character is what you are in the dark. Looking back, the times in my life when I’ve been tested the most came on  occasions when I had the distinct feeling that I was alone and no one was “watching” me.

These days the news media in the US is at a fever pitch in reporting political scandals and exposing the men, and sometimes women,  who have fallen victim to immoral behavior. These stories provide late night talk show hosts with more than enough fodder for their monologues and jokes. It seems no one is immune from the public eye these in days of advanced technology.

I can pretty much guarantee that no one involved in a scandal ever went into immoral behavior thinking it would ever be found out or exposed. When men and women get the idea that “no one is watching” it’s incredible the behaviors that will result.

Without realizing it I often wondered myself if anyone was really watching my life and if anyone really cared to.  Through major tests, failure and victory in my own life, I’ve been challenged to reexamine my own theology and just how I was living it out. There was a period of my life when I behaved as if I was performing only for those around me and not honest and open before the God who sees everyone and everything.

The dark was another world where no one saw what was hidden in my life and I thought, quite frankly, no one really cared. Fortunately, God through His relentless love brought me through many trials to bring me to a better place and a clearer understanding of His knowledge of me as part of His vast Creation over which He is sovereign.

When we think we’re all alone, we are not living out the reality of the theology many of us profess. God does see and He exposes the hidden recesses of our lives and hearts.

This knowledge, practically applied, makes a significant difference in how we live. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” I have found that there is both consolation and trepidation in that statement.

The fact that God sees it all should not make us want to run and hide from Him but to draw closer to Him. The one who knows us intimately wants to draw us closer to Him every moment. He has opened the door of access to Himself completely through Jesus Christ His Son.

If you will ultimately be accountable to God then why not be accountable to Him now in every aspect of your life? Is your life about performing for others or pleasing the One who knows and sees all?

Jesus challenges us as His followers not to “perform” for people (Matthew 6:1) but to rest in the knowledge that the ultimate Judge of all men sees our “acts of righteousness” and will be the one whose opinion really matters in the end.

If you are like me, a recovering perfectionist or people-pleaser,  this may be the best news we will ever hear. God loves us because He sees it all, just as it is, and deeply desires to draw near to us, and we to Him.

God Sees. He sees you and everything about your life. How you respond to His knowledge of you makes all the difference in how you will live today.

Read Full Post »

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” – Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

Seems like summer is a good time to catch up.  We may find that a change of pace in these summer months gives us opportunities to get to things we don’t have time for the other weeks of the year. Perhaps one can take time to kick back and relax especially if one is so blessed with good weather and time to spend with family and friends or perhaps take a vacation or “holiday” as it’s referred to in some places around the English-speaking world.

Personally speaking I can recall not being able to relax at anytime during the course of the summer or  the year.  Several  years ago I was under intense stress that had steadily grown from month to month and year to year.  It became a toxic force in my life and I would not be surprised if others out there are suffering the same malady.

Some of us can be so driven that the thought of relaxing or backing off of a busy schedule is anathema to us. I wonder why that is?

I’ve never been a fast runner, but I have been in a few footraces in my time. I’ve always despised the feeling of seeing all the other guys running past me and not being able to “catch up” regardless of how fast I ran.

One day I stopped running.  I just had to stop and rest because I found myself constantly under pressure in my life and career to catch up with people whom I perceived where running the same race as myself but were far, far ahead of where I was.  In stopping I started assessing. In assessing I found some answers about how I was living that weren’t pleasant, but helped me find answers I really hadn’t been looking for.

In the passage quoted above the Apostle Paul instructs the followers of Jesus to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  I take it that it’s our own salvation we’re meant to be “working out” without comparison to how other followers are performing. I came to realize that I had been running my “race” in comparison to and in competition with others of my choosing instead of in relation to the One I was meant to be worshipping and serving.

For followers of Jesus the only race to be running is the one in partnership with Him, not in competition with other followers.  I think there’s a lot of us that have issues with that.

The Apostle also says in the context, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  I see a clearer picture here that as we focus on our own walk with God He’s the one calling the shots and working in us to accomplish His purposes through our faith and obedience.

I do know that races are won by those who focus on their own plan of action and take their eyes off of the competition, especially during a race. Some races are lost by those who start looking over their shoulder and fearing those coming up behind them.

Maybe this was in the mind of the author to the book of Hebrews who said  “… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ” Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NIV)

It was long time before I realized how committed I had been to a plan that wasn’t energized by the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Fortunately, He is at work in all who follow by faith and are willing to lay every burden on His shoulders.

When our focus shifts from the One we’re meant to be following to others in the race, we begin unfair comparisons that skew our perspectives.  There’s no “catching up” with the One who’s in charge. He’s always in the lead and is always meant to be in focus.

Let’s shift our eyes back to the One we’re meant to be following in the first place and enjoy the pace He sets for each of us. The winning prize goes to Him who ultimately set up the race in the first place.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: