Western believers must be ever diligent to prevent themselves from being sucked into the materialism that permeates the culture of our day. It seems we are often more concerned with keeping up with the Jones’ rather than serving them. Without a clearly defined list of priorities based on the teachings of Christ, we will easily fall prey to the temptation of acquiring wealth and goods that will burn in the fire instead of storing up treasures that will last for eternity (Matthew 6:19-20). We are called to be separated from the ways of the world, not to indulge in them (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:15-17). Our lives should look like that of Jesus, not our next door neighbor’s.
Do we really love God with all of our heart, strength and mind? Jesus said this was the most important commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). He went so far as to say that if we did this, we would inherit eternal life with Him (Luke 10:25-28). Love is a verb, something we must actively do. Saying a prayer to commit our life to Christ is a fine first step, but it is not what gets you to Heaven; we must actively love the Lord with all that we are. There are many ways to demonstrate that love, many of which are detailed in Matthew 25:31-46, a passage in which Jesus tells us that if we don’t feed the hungry, care for the sick and shelter the homeless, we will not inherit eternal life.
It’s easy to become discouraged in our walk with Christ. The mission ahead is daunting and the pressures against us mount every day. There are so many in the world who hunger and thirst, how can we ever reach them all? Every day wars are creating more orphans and widows, and we haven’t yet begun to be able to help the ones we had the day before. We long to live a life that looks like Jesus, but the odds against us seem increasingly overwhelming. So many die without ever knowing the peace and love that can come only from Jesus; our hearts ache and we become paralyzed at the work before us.
Jesus told His followers that they were to be the light of the world. We often ascribe that title to Jesus Himself, since He is the only one who can lead us out of the darkness of our lives. Perhaps it’s easier to only think about Jesus being the light because that absolves us of some responsibility. We’ll tell others about Christ and point them to His light, but if we are to shine ourselves that means we must make radical changes in the way we live. Jesus didn’t qualify His statement in Matthew 5:14. He didn’t say we could be the light of the world or that we should be the light of the world; He clearly said that we are the light of the world.
In the passage of 1 Timothy 2:1-4, we find instruction regarding the ways in which we should all be praying. Many times we get into the habit of our prayers being self-oriented and we neglect many of the people and circumstances for which we should be praying. A vibrant and consistent prayer life is a key to understanding the character and principles of God, so it’s worth pausing to consider all the ways we have been instructed to pray.