By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
While watching television, a car commercial came on that caught my eye. Unlike traditional car commercials that talk about how well they can tow this or how fast they can go from 0-60 mph; this commercial was bragging about how much their brand is trusted.
Titus 2:7-8 (ESV): Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
There is something to be said about someone (or something) who is trusted by their peers and counterparts. There are many ways to achieve this goal, but it is probable each path will mention the need to be consistent. To be a “model of good works”, one would need to actively and consistently help others. The Greek used for “model” means to be a stamp or impression. If any of us have ever used a stamp, we can appreciate the dependability of it. Every time the stamp is pressed on a paper, it leaves the same mark over and over again. And when someone is consistent, it makes it difficult for opponents to spread lies about them.
Romans 13:4 (ESV): For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.
We should live in a manner where it is almost impossible to convince someone we did something contrary to our character. It should be as difficult as convincing someone a stamp that left one impression is going to leave another impression the next time it is used. Put simply, the imprint of a stamp does not change; and neither should the imprint we leave. If we want to be trustworthy, the first thing we need to do is commit to be the same every day. This will enable people to get to know us; whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is up to us. In the case where we do not believe we are living a life consistent with the expectations God has of us, we should commit to making a change for the better. While the difficulty of making a change may keep us wanting to try, it is well worth the investment.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Israel finds herself in captivity, yet Micah speaks with unyielding confidence. As a prophet of God, Micah recognizes that God is righteous and His will must be followed.
Micah 7:8-9 (NKJV): Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case And executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.
Similar to a parent with their child or an employee with their supervisor; if rules and consequences are set forth, breaking the rules will trigger the consequence. Micah is confident because God continues to be his light and he identifies that God is honoring His word. At times, God keeping His word will bestow blessings on us; such as His promise to never flood the earth in the manner of the great flood again (Genesis 9:11). Other times, God keeping His word will enact consequences on those who disobey His will. There are many passages in the Old Testament where God is clear that He will punish the guilty and wrongdoers (Nah. 1:3, Jer. 30:11).
Ephesians 1:18 (ESV): having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Micah is honest in his assessment of the situation. He states he has sinned, disobeyed the will of God and that has provoked God’s wrath. He is clear of his understanding that obedience to God will put him back in God’s favor. Another interesting thing to note is the fact that Micah is shadowing the birth of Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. Jesus speaks of Himself as the “light of the world” and those who follow Him must avoid the darkness and have a “light of life” (John 8:12). Micah knows our lives will be lost until the promised Messiah comes and advocates on our behalf (John 14:6, 1 John 2:1). Once Jesus Christ came and died for the sins of the world, “He will bring me forth to the light” as long as we live a life of obedience and righteousness. We cannot consider ourselves a child of God if we live a duel life of saint and willful sinner. God continues to keep His word; so let us be as confident as Micah when it comes to understanding God’s will and let us be obedient enough to follow it.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Christians are told throughout Scripture to pray without ceasing. Assuming this cannot literally mean to pray twenty-hours a day, seven days a week; what are we to conclude when reading this verse?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV): Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The Apostle Paul is telling us we should always be focusing on God and what He continues to do for us. It is a God first mindset that Paul wants Christians to have. Before any major decision is made, we should first consider how it may affect our spiritual life. Will this job make it easier or harder for me to go church; is it more or less conducive to my Christians morals? Paul wants us to reflect on Christ before we choose the people we are going to date. Does this person want to grow with me in faith or do they have other priorities? Focusing on God first should come as natural as breathing or blinking. Our body performs these functions naturally, without consideration; and that is what we should strive for with God.
Philippians 4:6 (ESV): Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
When our focus is on God, it will be easier for us to turn away from worry, fear, anxiety, and anger. Those feelings of uneasiness and discouragement only show up when we do not have a God-Conscience mentality. To return to a God-Conscience mindset, we only need to reset our mind on God through prayer and every prayer into thanksgiving. Paul throughout his Epistles is frequently speaking on anxiety, prayer, and thanksgiving. Paul tells the church in Ephesus that praying as an essential piece of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:18). Without prayer, we are likely to be depending on our own understanding first. That is not to say that we cannot come up with manageable or even productive ideas; it is to question where the best ideas come from? If all good things come from God above, then it should only make sense to speak with God first and foremost. God may show us an easier way than anything we thought was possible. He may provide us the calmness and clarity we need to see the situation as it is. A God focused mentality where we look to Him before we look to self is what praying without ceasing is talking about. Praying without ceasing requires a continual dependence on God and His plan; forgoing what we want and what we think is best.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Christians are expected to be patient because of how patient God is with us. We are expected to be forgiving because of how forgiving God continues to be with to us; and we are expected to be without fear because of how much God provides and protects us.
Revelation 2:10 (ESV): Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
God’s protection does not mean we will not have to deal with heart ache and misfortune; it means we will have the proper mindset to deal with them. Being a Christian is not as much of a promise to a wonderful life as much as it is a promise a wonderful afterlife. This is not to say we cannot find happiness, joy, and a reward on earth; but it is to say that life on earth will have good times and it will have bad times. The Bible says the sun will shine on the evil and the good and it will rain on the wicked and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). What Jesus is saying is if our life on earth is full of success and prosperity; that does not necessarily mean God is pleased with us. The opposite is also true, continually finding misfortune does not mean God is necessarily upset with us. It is important we remember where the reward is ultimately located and it is essential we prioritize our efforts in similar fashion. Holding onto issues on earth is not beneficial to anyone. Fighting over trivial things which are not going to matter in the bigger picture is wasting the wonderful life our Creator has given us.
John 18:36 (ESV): Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
If our focus is on the kingdom of heaven and being obedient to God’s will; we will not worry about keeping score on earth. When we suffer, may we be bold enough to proclaim any suffering we undertake for the furthering of the gospel is a blessing (Acts 5:41). When we have an opportunity to forgive someone who wronged us, may we recall that Jesus Christ came and died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). May we humble in our riches and poverty; whether we have much or have little, because neither is an indication of whether God is pleased with us. May we be fearless in our interactions so we can focus more on what God wants of us and less on what we want from others. God wants us to be set apart from this world; He wants us to be forgiving, patient, loving, and selfless in our interactions. If we achieve these things, we can be sure our life on earth will be full of more joy than money can buy.