Hey friends, how are you today? The sun is out, the skies are blue and even the birds are fooled because their chirps can be heard. It is cold today, people, right now it is 15° but it feels like 4°; some days the ‘feelings’ count and the ‘feelings’ in today’s temperature do matter. But despite that, I am so thankful and grateful for the sunshine and the blue skies. The cold and grey skies are not a great combination. “Therefore, Lord, though it is cold today, it isn’t as cold as it could be and I thank you for the blue skies and sunshine and the birds in the front yard; thank You, Lord”. Even though tomorrow’s temperature will be a fabulous 48°, I choose to find joy in today. How are you, today?
When I was younger, I believed that the Lord honored my feelings concerning a few of His commandments (just a few now, not that many). Especially those commandments that involved the ‘one another’s’. I felt that my feelings justified my actions. Why would the Lord accept a commanded behavior when I didn’t feel like it?
I mean how can I be expected to ‘be kind to one another’ if I didn’t feel like it? Or love one another, or do good to one another, or be patient with all men? “They don’t deserve it, Lord”. “I’ve tried and tried to be kind, but they persist in their meanness”. I just don’t feel like it. These people are deliberately unkind, and they seek ways to inflict pain. I just want to be done with them.
The truth is most of ‘these people’ are not Christians, yet I expect Christ-like behaviors from them. I apply the same standard of behavior expected of me to them and when they fail to reach the standard, I find them unworthy of kindness and patience. How very self-righteous of me, don’t you think? For a minute there… I had forgotten the verse that said, “…not by works of righteousness which we have done…”.
Thankfully the Lord does not allow His people to walk in ignorance of His commandments for very long. He uses His Word, people, or circumstances to bring His Word to pass. He is that kind of God. Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes succinctly puts it like this:
My duty as a Christian is to “fear the Lord and keep His commandments”. This is best done when my feelings and my actions are aligned, but feelings are not necessary for my obedience. Imagine this scenario with me for a minute: “Cleo, clean your room”. “I don’t feel like it, mom”. Let me inform you right now, this response to that command isn’t an option in our household. This was not a suggestion; it was a command, and the right response is ‘yes mom’. We make no apology for being that kind of parents. And I assure you, the Lord needs no apology for being that kind of God.
He expects His people to obey His Word, which is why His Word is permeated with commandments. (You) ‘do this, (you) do that’. It’s not optional and obedience does not demand my feelings. Unlike human parents, the Lord even blesses our obedience. Can you imagine that? Our girls would be surprised if we rewarded their obedience. Yet the God of the Universe does just that. He not only reward my obedience here on earth, but there is also a reward that waits for me when I get to my eternal home.
On our own, it is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandments because on most days my feelings will control my actions. That is instinctive and a natural behavior. The Lord’s commandments, especially those that involve the ‘one another’s’ require not the natural but rather the supernatural, which makes it impossible for the natural man to obey. If we as Christians find it so difficult to love the unlovable, to be kind to the unkind, to be patient with the impatient, why then do we expect these behaviors from who are not in Christ?
Our daughter recently shared this quote (Steven M. R. Covey) with me, “we judge ourselves by our intentions, but others by their behavior”. Lower the bar, friends. Lower the bar for those outside of Christ. Truly they do not know better, but we do. If we expect bad behaviors from the world, it will not take us by surprise when we get it. Now it is time, to raise the bar for those of us who claim to know the Lord as our Savior. Obedience is nonnegotiable, it is not optional, and we cannot pick and choose which commandments we will obey.
As Christians, we’ve been called to holiness and our feelings need not apply. But God…
How are you today?