Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outdo with Honor




Are you one of those people who have a competitive nature? For some people, it doesn’t matter what the situation—playing a game, arm wrestling, seeing who can eat the most tacos—these people want to prove that they can do it the best.

What they are saying is, “I can outdo you.” It’s like the old song that says, “Anything you can I, I can do better.”

While there is nothing wrong with being competitive and competing, we need to remember to be gracious in both victory and defeat. But Paul instructed the Roman Christians to have a little competition of their own when it came to showing love.

The New King James translates Romans 12:10 this way: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”

The expression “giving preference” means “to lead the way.” Newer translations, such as the English Standard Version, say, “Outdo each other in showing honor.”

Sometimes we tell a person, “You have really outdone yourself.” Whether we are being sarcastic because of another failure or encouraging because of success, the expression indicates taking an action to a whole new level.

Paul was not just telling them to outdo themselves, but to outdo each other. Take their honor to a whole new level. Find the person who is the best at it, and find a way to do it more.

This is not about bragging rights or being the best, but about being known as people who show love and honor. Our motivation should be our love for God and love for each other, the ones to whom we are showing honor.

To all you people with a competitive nature, I propose a contest. Let’s see who can outdo each other in showing honor. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tax Day



As all tax paying citizens are aware, this past week brought us “tax day”—April 15th. The day that all income taxes must be filed, and for many of us, a time when we find out how much more we owe the government.

Many people dread tax day. For some it is anticipated because there could be a big refund check, but still many people are nervous about the paperwork. You have to pay a person to look through your personal financial matters, and some of us wonder how good of a job they are doing.

Are they getting me every break I am entitled to?
Are they getting me too many breaks?

A few years ago we got an incredible return, only to find out later she was scamming the government. She charged us over $400, and our big check was quickly spent on home repairs, and now the IRS is reclaiming it a little each year. Many people have their own horror tax day stories, and you share my nervousness this time of year.

I have come to view tax day as something I must get through. I won’t set aside money in case I owe, but neither will I depend on a return. Tax day was not designed to make me rich.

If you want a big return, just be good and happy. Seriously.

1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Now there is great gain in godliness and contentment.”

That great gain refers to wealth—spiritual wealth—when we live godly and are content. As believers, we should desire to live godly lives all the time because that is what God has called us to. But He also calls us to be content.

Many Americans lack contentment in their lives. We need a little more. I’ve got to pay off the car. I need to set aside for my child’s college. There are so many things to fix around the house. When should I start planning for retirement?

While it is important to be responsible, we still need to be content. There is a fine line between our needs and our wants that we must not cross. Are you content with what you have?

Wanting to have more drives us crazy, but contentment allows us to be satisfied with what we have. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sundial



This past week I made a homemade sundial (sort of) for an object lesson in church. I was teaching about the time God turned back the sun 10 degrees as a sign that He would save King Hezekiah’s life (2 Kings 20), and my sundial got me thinking that sometimes in life we simply have to do the best we can with what we have.

For one thing, sundials are very hard to find. I have seen them as garden decorations, and being early spring, I thought I would be able to go into any number of stores and find one. In reality I went into a number of stores and found none. I’m not the craftiest person but I decided to make one myself. Using a dowel rod, paper plate, and piece of cardboard, I crudely fashioned a sundial. It was held together with a nail, push pins, glue, tape, and it looked like a third grader made it. But it served its purpose. When Plan A didn’t work, I had to make do.

Before people had clocks or watches sundials were the chief way of telling time. The problem with the sundial, though, is that they are not extremely accurate or very precise. Things can affect the accuracy of the sundial, like clouds, rain, or fog; and they are not nearly as accurate as our newer devices that give us to-the-second time.

But when there are no clocks, a sundial will have to do.

Sometimes in life we have to go with Plan B (or C, D, or E). When things do not go as we had planned, we need to be flexible. Sometimes life will rain on our parade, and we just have to do the best we can do with what we have.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” It is good to have plans, but sometimes they will fail. When they do, as believers we need to be flexible and adapt our plans to God’s purposes. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fitness Plan



One of the hottest crazes over the last decade has been related to fitness; gym memberships, fitness clubs, weight loss books, low calorie menus, diet drinks, and yoga pants have never been more popular. Ask the average person on New Year’s Eve what their resolution is, and you will likely get an answer related to fitness.

“I want to lose more weight.”
“I want to eat healthier.”
“I want to get in shape.”

And there is nothing wrong with these goals. People continue to come up with the next big thing: The Atkins Diet; The South Beach Diet; gluten free; vegan; artificial sweeteners. But the Bible also provides a great fitness tip. It isn’t new, but it certainly works.

Proverbs 3:8 says, “It shall be health to thy naval and marrow to thy bones.”

The ESV translates the verse this way: “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” What must we do to receive this healing, this refreshment?

The preceding verses tell us that the key to unlocking this fitness is godliness. Verse 3 says not to forsake mercy and truth; verse 5 says to trust in God, not yourself, with all your heart; verse 6 says to let God direct your steps; and verse 7 says to fear God and depart from evil.

An eager person asks, “What must I do to have that body? How can I get in shape fast?” They are willing to do whatever it takes. We know that to have spiritual health we must seek God and live for Him. Are we willing to do it?

The results are worth it.