Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom- Psalm 90:12 NIV
Humans do strange things.
Most of us will fight to the death for things we don’t really want, need, or care anything about. Just about everyone has been guilty at some point of driving away the people they care about the most. And the majority of us have acted in a passive-aggressive way at some point in our lives. Passively-resisting, avoiding direct communication, faking compliance and forgetting things on purpose rather than simply asking for what we want is a very weird thing. Unfortunately, those weird things barely scratch the surface of what humans are capable of when it comes to weird things.
We also tend to settle for things that are far inferior to what God really wants us to have. We become spiritually lazy and rather than going all-in for the best God has for us we settle for things that look and feel “good enough”. Settling is stupid because it limits our personal growth and stifles our ability to do good in this world. Evil is accelerating at a startling pace in our day. (2nd Timothy 3:1-3). If Christians want to have any impact at all in these times we cannot afford to settle for anything less than the best God has for us. Following are four things that will eventually ruin us if we settle for them:
Christians are redeemed for the sole purpose of influencing others (Matthew 5:14-16) and making a difference in this world (Ephesians 2:10). However, it is possible to forfeit our God-given influence by choosing to blend into and take on the attitudes and behaviors of our culture. Taking on attitudes of worldliness, selfishness and unforgiveness will cause Christians to become powerless to effect change and spiritually useless (Matthew 5:13).
Humans are extraordinarily perceptive when comes to sensing social patterns. No one really wants to be branded as strange, so we carefully monitor and regulate our public behavior. Christians are pros at this. The minute we get saved we take a look around at what other Christians are doing or not doing and dutifully fall in line. If none of the other Christians we know are dropping F-bombs we stop dropping F-bombs (at least in front of people). If none of the other Christians are drinking beer we steer clear of beer. If other Christians are going to Bible study, we get our butts to a Bible study. We alter our external behavior to fit into whatever Christian culture we are a part of. Oftentimes we do this without changing the attitudes of our heart (Romans 12:2). Regulating behavior is not necessarily wrong or sinful. There are times when it is even healthy (Proverbs 16:32). However, simply copycatting good behavior falls painfully short of God’s will for our lives. God wants more for His people than wrong thinking covered-up with right behavior. He wants to transform our thinking so that our behavior falls in line with what the Bible says rather than simply settling for behavior that “appears Christian” on the surface. Transformation cannot happen without effort on our part. We have to want it, pray for it and work our tails off to get it (Philippians 2:12, Ephesians 4:17-32).
Everybody understands what it means to be smart. Smart people can read, write and solve tricky mathematical equations. Smart people speak well and they know how to get things done. Smart is good. The Bible teaches wisdom is better (Proverbs 2:12-16). Wisdom empowers people to think like God thinks and to see problems, situations and people from His perspective (James 3:17). Wisdom enables people to look at every side of an issue and think through all the conceivable outcomes of issues. Wisdom enables people to know good advice when they hear it and teaches them to tactfully ignore bad counsel (Proverbs 13:10) Wise people know when to give a little so they can get a lot and they know when they should go to war to eventually achieve peace. Wisdom is gift. God bestows wisdom on those humble enough to admit they don’t have it (2nd Chronicles 1:7-12, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5).
Humans naturally hunger for approval and acceptance. However, there are times when that aspect of our human nature bumps up against God’s will for our lives. Anytime a Christian chooses being liked over the freedom to speak out against anything God clearly labels sin we settle for less than the best, break the heart of God and limit our usefulness for the Kingdom.
The world is getting darker by the day and the darkness is not going anywhere anytime soon (Matthew 24:7-13). In a world where sin is celebrated and there is a constant danger biblical Christianity will be criminalized. It is imperative God’s people do not settle for anything less than being the world changers we are called to be.