Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Struggle is Real

We all strive to live lives marked by love. We want to bring love and kindness into every interaction we have with people. We long to live The Life of Love, not a life filled with sin, but the struggle is real. We struggle with being patient and kind when people are getting on our nerves. We don’t want to forgive others when they wrong us. We aim to live lives marked by compassion, kindness and discipline but in reality our lives are marked by a bad temper, irritability and meanness.

We will never be perfect, and God does not expect perfection from us. God expects us to aim for righteousness, rather than to come up with excuses when we sin. We receive God’s grace freely every time we choose to own up to our mistakes and turn from our sins, rather than to keep going down the wrong path. 

The good news is that God notices every single attempt we make to turn our lives around, it all counts in God’s eyes. The people around you might not notice any difference in your behavior yet, but God knows how hard you are trying to change. God notices every effort we make and he also notices every time we choose sin. We get away with nothing in front of God. There’s no sin you can commit that God won’t judge you for one day, unless you choose to come to Him and ask for forgiveness in repentance.

The beautiful message of the gospel is that no matter how bad you have messed up in your life it’s never too late to change your course. We can never become too broken or too old for God to be able to do His redeeming work in us. We are also aware that we will never “arrive” in this lifetime. You can’t live a generous life in your thirties and forties, retire at 55 and spend the rest of your life focused on yourself. You will never arrive at a place where you have done enough good deeds and can “check out” of your responsibilities and focus on yourself. The day your mission in this life is finished will be the day you die, the day that God brings you home to heaven. 

I’m greatly encouraged by the fact that every day matters to God. How I choose to live my life today is important to God. God doesn’t need me to graduate university, land the dream job or start my own non-profit for Him to be pleased with me. Every small act of kindness and love matters to God. Big dreams and ambition is good to have but God isn’t hard to please. All God requires from me is that I love Him with all my heart, and that I love on all the people I interact with everyday.

When I aim to live this “life of love” God is pleased with me every single day. God gives me the strength I need to be able to choose love, and when I sin, fail and mess up God’s forgiveness and grace is available for me every time. That’s a free and beautiful way to live! I’m aiming for love, but I’m fully aware that I will end up sinning daily and that God will forgive me every time I do. I’m free to try again, without even a hint of shame or condemnation.

 “A good person’s good life won’t save him when he decides to rebel, and a bad person’s bad life won’t prevent him from repenting of his rebellion. A good person who sins can’t expect to live when he chooses to sin. It’s true that I tell good people, “Live! Be alive!” But if they trust in their good deeds and turn to evil, that good life won’t amount to a hill of beans. They’ll die for their evil life.
“‘On the other hand, if I tell a wicked person, “You’ll die for your wicked life,” and he repents of his sin and starts living a righteous and just life—being generous to the down-and-out, restoring what he had stolen, cultivating life-nourishing ways that don’t hurt others—he’ll live. He won’t die. None of his sins will be kept on the books. He’s doing what’s right, living a good life. He’ll live.
 “‘Your people say, “The Master’s way isn’t fair.” But it’s the way they’re living that isn’t fair. When good people turn back from living good lives and plunge into sin, they’ll die for it. And when a wicked person turns away from his wicked life and starts living a just and righteous life, he’ll come alive.
(EZEKIEL 33:12-19)

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