The end of the year is a wonderful opportunity to assess our life and relationship with God. There are some good things to consider as we all celebrate Christmas and New Years.
Great portions of the Western world exchange gifts on December 25. Children bask with their new toys, families congregate for festive dinner delights and, here in America, capitalism grinds to a halt for about 24 hours. But let us consider also, friends, what our gift to God will be this year as well. I propose two gifts: Obedience and Integrity.
The Gift of Obedience: Obedience to God defies our human desires and strengthens our will to act. When we obey God, there is a natural gift exchange. God composed the notion of obedience with a built-in benefit. This exchange is freedom. It revolutionizes our entire way of living from a life of bondage to a life of freedom. An unwise person will evaluate obedience to God as a loss of personal control and will deny himself/herself the opportunity. A wise person will see past the loss of personal control and recognize that true wisdom and love are on the other side. They will obey and walk with God. In exchange, God will grant them spiritual freedom that surpasses the greatness of anything they have ever known in this world.
Let us consider this notion of obedience as we contemplate 2010. Are we ready to give up our dreams in order to follow Him? If He speaks to us in prayer, have we prepared our hearts to drop our nets and do what He says? Let us remember that our entire world – from our own vantage point as well as how it actually is – exists for the opportunity to serve Him in obedience.
For most believers, obeying God is initially tough and mentally taxing. Such a process would make sense because the first step of anything in life is generally the toughest. When we begin to obey God in any kind of capacity, therein lies the enemy who awaits to deceive us. But the presence of the Enemy should only serve as a reminder that we believe in the true living God. It should also serve as motivation to proceed ahead in His name, for His purpose, despite the consequences and initial discomfort.
God made our life purpose very, very simple. Follow Me. The response is a yes or a no. Oh, it really isn’t that complicated. Those that hesitate are like humans deciding to keep swimming in big, big river in class-5 rapids (the most dangerous level possible for river rafting) instead of getting right back into that raft. Just get into the raft – it is going to save your life. Hesitate and the river will consume you fast. In other words, the river of life will consume your heart. You may not possess the will to swim back to the raft later on.
Obedience to God is immediate. There is no half-way when He calls us to obey. We either do or we do not. For those of us who struggle, let us look past discomfort or uncertainty. Let’s give God a gift of obedience because true freedom in Him is the result.
The Gift of Integrity: Perhaps another gift to God might be in order: Integrity. How many times do we forsake our integrity every single day? How many of us create dual lives and personalities (for example, a different you at work, a different you at home, a different you at a baseball game)? We have to ask ourselves, “Why do we do this? Why do we have to forsake who we really are in order to conform to our surroundings?”
Spiritually, Jesus is non-conformist. In other words, he understood his calling and remained wholly dedicated and obedient to God the Father despite the consequences. He kept his integrity within Torah & Talmudic Rabbinical society. He followed Torah and lived Torah, but He did not heed to all of the Talmud. His integrity even grew stronger as he bled on the cross. His integrity was glorified when he rose again in three days. And it continues to be justified today, almost 2,000 years after he departed from the disciples.
Jesus functions upon his integrity – he did not alter any element of his being in order to “be cool” with his disciples or to “be accepted” by the Judeans, Romans or Samaritans. He did not alter anything. Jesus, as an aspect of God the Father, was the most real and authentic being on the planet.
I propose that we all think quite intently about the notion of integrity this year. Integrity is no small trait. Without integrity, how can your spiritual soul come alive? Without integrity, do you believe God will call you to live for Him? Without integrity, we die a slow spiritual death. Let us remember to hold tight to our soul the creed and spirit of Jesus, never forsaking His name for the benefit of ourselves or even our loved ones. Jesus is the rock. The rock becomes sand when it loses its integrity.
~ John Sharpe