“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16: 10 – 13 ESV
How faithful (devoted, staunch, committed, trustworthy, dependable, reliable, dedicated) are we to the commands of Christ? Among His commands was the requirement to DAILY take up our cross and FOLLOW Him. “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23. However, there are many times we are less than faithful and actually choose to deny Him.
What is denial? It is the attitude that avoids looking realistically at issues. It is pretending or claiming to be something or someone that we are not. It is rejecting or “disowning” that which He has commanded of us. We could go on and on, but I believe the point is made—we are to DAILY choose to follow the Living Christ and strive to live in accordance with His teachings/commands.
In Every Day With Jesus, Ann Graham Lotz writes, “Most Christians (myself included) are to varying degrees held together by denial. Deep down we sense that if we were to face the realities of life openly and honestly, we might not be able to cope, and so we pretend things are not what they are.” There is a great deal of truth in that statement.
We all know (and are probably guilty of) professing Christians that pretend that what we have in our lives satisfies far more than it actually does. We pretend life’s circumstances have not hurt us deeply. We refuse to face and feel what is going on inside us, due to the strange belief that such confessions are expressions of a lack of faith.
Only Christ satisfies! Only faithful obedience to Him brings ultimate JOY into our lives. We can be content in every circumstance of life if we will DAILY choose to pick up His cross and FOLLOW Him. We cannot pretend to follow. We cannot act as if we are fulfilled. We must abide in Him, pick up that cross DAILY, and FOLLOW Him.
I challenge you to look deeply within yourself. Is what you display you say you have in Christ real or fake? We cannot ignore what is going on inside us, we have to face it and deal with it. This “pretending” to be something we are not is responsible for more casualties in the Christian life than we can imagine. A Christian psychologist says: "I am convinced that much of what we admire as spiritual maturity is a fragile adjustment to life based on the foundation of denial.” Think about that statement a bit.
This would mean that much of what we call Christian maturity might very well be based on a “foundation of denial.” We “pretend” to be something we are not. We cling to the world AND try to be Christian in our own strength. We pretend to be faithful, when we are giving God our leftovers and not our firstfruits. In my own observations, I have found many non-Christians to be more open and honest in facing what is going on inside them than some Christians.
Denial is NOT a wise plan for life. Again, Ann Graham Lotz writes, “The choice, then, is stark: either to deny and live comfortably or to face every painful issue - and go on to climb the heights with God.” No matter how much we try Jesus’ truth remains His truth – NO MAN (or woman, or child, or youth) can serve two masters! Our pretending will produce a façade that covers up our weakness and allows us to “meander in the wilderness.” Our choosing to admit who we are and where we are in Christ – to BE REAL – and then, strive to pick up that cross daily and FOLLOW HIM allows us to experience the fullness of a faithful life in Christ and “climb to new heights with God.”
It is my prayer that today I will be real with God! That I will choose to take up His cross and strive to FOLLOW Him. I pray that I will not be so afraid that I would pretend instead of trusting Him. Truth is, there is NOTHING we will face today that is greater than God. If I will admit that truth, accept His provision, TRUST Him completely, and strive to follow Him, I WILL experience the fullness of Christ. I will know the joy of His abiding presence in my life. I will have His Joy and the peace that surpasses all human understanding. What we are longing to experience is found in Jesus, but we must be real with Him. Strive to be faithful in the “small stuff” today, so you can experience His faithfulness.
"A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1, HCSB
Think for a few minutes of the culture we live in as Americans. In our “postmodern society” (which I often call a pagan culture), it is “cool” to be “bad.” People with little regard for biblical principles – in fact almost “blaspheme” - are held in high regard by many, including professing Christians. A type of “glorification” of a bad, promiscuous, profane lifestyle/reputation has become the norm in our society. All one has to do is look at our commercials, listen to our popular songs, and observe the t-shirts we are wearing to church. With this “bad is good” culture that has invaded our culture (including the fringe of the church), what is a Christ-follower to do?
The writer of Proverbs gives us some tried and true advice. His piercing “one-liners” have withstood the test of time. Our reputation is a reflection of character. As believers, it is a reflection of who we are in Christ.
LISTEN (hear in a biblical sense) to what Proverbs continues to teach us in the 21st Century. Riches, or lack thereof, still try our prejudice. Prudence is still the mark of a successful person. Humility still trumps pride. The fear of the Lord is still the starting place for the most wonderful journey any human can take. Thorns and snares are still on the daily route for all.
You and I are wise to pay attention to the advice of the ancient sage. If we are to confront—with the truths of Proverbs—the upside-down, downward-moving, immoral, mainstream culture we inhabit, we must possess courage. In so doing we mirror (reflect, copy, emulate, imitate) and exalt the life of Jesus.
Take some time today to reflect upon where you are in Christ. Pray that God will help us in our daily efforts to reflect the life of Christ in our culture. Pray that others will see Jesus in us and come to know Him as their personal savior and Lord of all.
Associational Missions Strategist at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!