What matters most? It’s actually pretty simple. Relationships. When we boil down our lives, what (or whom) do we really treasure? Our kids, our parents, close friends. That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.
What does God treasure? Why did Jesus come down to Earth, then suffer and die on a cross? To restore a broken relationship. Sin separates. It separates us from each other and it separates us from God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
There are so many important issues and there are so many people, yet God cares about every issue and loves each individual personally. Life can be messy rather than feel meaningful, and because of that we miss sharing the simple truth of the Gospel.
Sometimes, Christians come across as self-righteous in their beliefs. Religion makes you self-righteous; a relationship does not. Religion is you “earning” your way to heaven, so why wouldn’t you compare how others measure against you?
There may be a superiority factor there. Let’s say, before someone becomes a Christian, they’re always eating but never really filling up, they’re always hungry. But one day they taste and see that the Lord is good and they realize they were actually starving (Psalm 34:8). But once Jesus is in their lives, they’re completely filled up.
So, I’d ask the unbeliever, “If you saw someone who was starving and you had at one time been hungry and starving yourself, would you be superior to that person because you’re not starving anymore?”
A big problem lies in the fact that a lot of people think Christianity is a religion of judgment. But Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could have a religion. He died and rose again so we could be saved and have a real and intimate relationship with Him, one that leaves us filled and satisfied.
I think it's safe to say most sin stems from pride. It's an independent spirit that wants to do its own thing without any authority or direction from anyone else. In Proverbs 6:16-19, God lists seven things He hates — and one of those is pride. The only way to uproot pride is humility — freedom from pride and arrogance, a modest estimation of your own worth. It doesn't mean you think lowly of yourself, but that you are very careful not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to.
It’s easy for me to think I don’t have pride when it comes to certain features I possess, like my feet; they’re not attractive. I don't get pedicures for the simple fact that I don't want to draw attention to my toes (my big toes look like someone smashed them with a hammer).
Yet, I have certainly struggled with pride in thinking that I know better or more than another. There's been my unwillingness to really listen and harboring resentment while not leaving it to God to avenge me. All of this is pride, and pride stinks.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, "Learn of Me for I am humble." He then goes on to describe Himself as gentle, meek and lowly. Those character traits are beautiful and so are the “feet of those who bring the Good News” (no matter what their big toes look like).
On the other hand, a spirit of pride is often harsh, hard, sharp and pressing. People like that are difficult to be around. You seem never able to please them, and enough is never enough.
I have fallen into the pride pit before. Here's how to stay out and walk in humility:
1) Be quick to forgive;
2) Don't brag;
3) Wait patiently for God to avenge and promote you.
"It is yet to be seen what God could do through a person who would give Him all the glory. Your gifts and abilities come from God and you'll begin to live a confident and humble life." The older I get, the more I understand how much grace I need from God. I see that there's nothing of greatness in me, but it's all Him at work, giving me opportunities and the words I share with others.
Lately when someone has complimented me on something I've shared, I think, "Who, me? I'm such a wretch." That's why I need to look up and give God all the glory for the goodness of who I am and what I'm able to do.
I can also enjoy the uniqueness of my appearance, and you can, too. It’s okay to enjoy the way you present yourself with a fun “costume” (some refer to it as an outfit), a hairstyle, highlights and “putting your face on.”
It’s embarrassing to admit how much time I think about my outer appearance more than the condition of my heart, but I also think about many of the big issues our country is dealing with and I ask myself, "What really is most important right now?"
There are so many issues that need our attention, but let's not become lost in them and forget what's most important, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God created and loves all people and we all matter dearly to Him. While it’s true that, “All Lives Matter,” I tried to explain to my mother why that phrase on her door in her assisted living apartment might trigger some staff members. “But why?” Mom wanted to know. "You’re right, Mom, but some people take offense because they believe it minimizes the need for empathy and the need for action specifically for the Black community.”
She didn’t understand, but wanted to be sensitive so she removed the poster from her door. Regardless of whether we completely understand all that matters to others, we can understand that to God we are all loved by Him no matter what we do or don’t do.
We can choose to live well, and living well is knowing and receiving God's grace (which we all so desperately need) and then giving that same grace to others. Living well is walking in love. It's holding a Biblical worldview, which gives us all truth to know mercy, love, justice and walk humbly with the Lord our God. We don't need to borrow from secular theology to be more understanding or empathetic because the Bible is the source of God's love for all whom He created.
The Bible instructs in Acts 17:26 that God has created all people of one blood. God also decreed that we are created in His image --therefore we are all created equally and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. The Lord God went to the cross for us and paid our debt. He rose again and lives so that we might live too, eternally.
This column is a regular feature of the Detroit Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.