“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
Strap on your seatbelts, this is a long one.
I think one thing I neglect as a Christian, and as a human, is how important the friends and family around me are, but even more so, I forget how important my enemies are. Now, it’s not like I have someone in my life who is ACTUALLY my enemy that I fight physically, but I fight my enemies verbally. Time and time again I find myself letting hurtful words slip out when I should just be quiet. In a way, it pays for me to be an Introvert, because I might not let bad things come out of my mouth because I’m quiet, but yet it seems even still, harmful words always have precedence over the good ones. Why is it so hard to love the people around me?
I am a sinner. It’s so simple yet so hard to understand. We are born into the world, knowing already how to rebel and sin. It sucks to think about, but sin is so natural for me, because I am a born and raised sinner! Sin is so easy, and it can lead to great earthly rewards, but the eternal results are not satisfying. It’s so easy for me to not like people simply because they were rude, or because they annoy me, but is that really what God wants from me? I could lie to my friends, I could hurt someone and not apologize, I could make someone feel bad and just walk away, I could hold in all my insecurities and I could deny any problems I have and tell God to take a hike, but does God become any less glorious if I do those things? Does God become less forgiving if I sin more? Will God say “Oh my gosh how could you?! We are totally enemies now, bye!”? Think about it for a moment…
There really isn’t a clear solution. Of course I can get better, I can be a better person, I can change! But will it ever last? We don’t have eternal love, no human does. But doesn’t God have it? Is he a God who holds grudges? Is he a God who picks and chooses who he likes best and weeds out anyone who’s not as perfect? Is he a God who says “Not you, you sinned today and I hate you now.”? Of course not! But do we do those things? Of course! We cannot have the power of God’s ultimate everlasting love, but we CAN direct people to God’s love, which will never fall short!
How We Should Treat Our Fellow Christians:
So sure, we can love each other, because God asks us to. But is that all? We can do so much for our friends, but we think just smiling and saying “Hi” is enough to feel like a good friend. And don’t think I’m free of this, I’m a huge Introvert, and I have a tough time with social interaction. It’s tough! But the power of talking to a friend about God, is immense. The verse at the top of this post says it all: “Encourage one another daily”. Encourage. That is such a key word in our interaction with our friends. I really wish I could be an Extrovert sometimes. Maybe I’d have more friends, maybe people would talk to me more. But the truth is, the friends I have NOW should be my focus. I can encourage, I can pray, I can help them first, and help myself last. It’s so easy for me to get greedy, and seek out friendships with people who just aren’t interested, because it’s my human instinct to feel needed. But do you know who I need? God. I don’t need to fit in, I don’t need to be an extrovert to realise that there are people who care about me just the way I am. I just want to live my short life on earth to see God shine in other people’s hearts. He is moving me one step at a time through this life, holding my hand as I walk down His path. My passion is to grab my friends by the hand, and say walk with Him.
Receiving A Human Gift:
What I mean by receiving a human gift, is quite literally, being given a human, as a gift from God. In this life, we neglect and push aside the thought that God is sending people our way to point to Him. I’ve been given Pastors, Leaders, Teachers, and Parents, who are all leading me straight to God. It’s not on my own that I’ve received the good news. It’s not on my own that I can understand the Bible (Amen to that). But it’s because of fellow Christians who have their own understanding and thoughts regarding the Bible and faith. They are constantly teaching me new things week after week.
But what about me?
Good question, what about me? I don’t know. I actually just have no idea. God has given me so many people to teach and point me to Christ, but when is God going to give me a chance to change someone’s heart? Never. Because I can’t change a heart, only God can. I get very nervous when I tell someone about my opinion on the Bible or faith as a whole, because I’m insecure. What if they never remember these words? Will anything I say actually have an impact? Do my words even matter? I mean come on! I am not a particularly interesting dude, so why would anyone be interested in what I have to say?! These are the thoughts that make me an Introvert. I don’t talk, because I don’t think anybody cares. Those thoughts claw at my brain, but the hard truth is this: THAT IS THE DEVIL TALKING! I can’t just go my whole life silent about my faith! To tell you the truth, I will never know if anyone is actually moved or changed by something I do or say, but it’s not about me, it’s about God! I have to break the chains that are holding me back, I need to drop the nets that are weighing me down, I need to release every Introverted instinct and be honest about my faith!
I have to be the moon: reflecting the Son.
There is one person though. One person who I feel like I can teach and lead. One of the Cub Scout groups that my troop works with has a Cub Scout who is really changing my life. He is struggling, and he comes to me like I’m his best friend, and goes with me wherever I go on camp outs, and he talks to me so much. But I don’t mind. He told me one day about how he wanted to get baptized, but he chickened out and he feels awful. And he always brings up how he feels really bad because he broke one of the ten commandments, and he asks me things like “Can you lose salvation?”. I mean, this kid is 1o, and I felt humbled before him. He just seemed so interested in talking to me and asking these questions, and I had to ask myself: Am I fit to answer? I just felt so unequipped, so useless because the questions were tough, and I felt worthless because I was supposed to be the wise older kid, providing wisdom. And sure, I did. I didn’t just blow off all his questions, but it took me time to answer, and I feel like I didn’t answer them well enough. I ask God-Rather I plead and beg that God would enter his heart. It’s so tough to hear him tell me how bad he feels about sinning. I can never say enough though. But I know that God is with him when I’m there, and he’s with him when I’m not.
Am I the right type?
This question goes back to fitting in. I am a very simple person, I sit in the back corner at youth group and no one bothers me. I need my alone time, that’s all. But in the back, I notice all these people getting along with their friends, and I wonder if I’ll be like them some day. Maybe one day people will look at me and say “Wow look at Aaron! He’s got so many friends!” But something deep inside tells me that’s not right for me. I shouldn’t feel left out if I see other people hanging out with all their friends, if I’m not willing to go make some myself, but I shouldn’t change myself to get friends either, so where’s the balance? Well let’s take a look at myself. I’m shy, I like to stay quiet, but I like being positive, and I like listening to people. That means, to make a good friend, the friend has to be willing to befriend someone with my personality! The truth is, I’m not for everyone. I don’t expect everyone to love me, far from it. The best I can do is treasure the friends I have, because I’m not worthless! The song Tryin’ by Matthew West is the anthem of my heart whenever I ask: “Am I good enough?” It’s such an unnecessary question, because God sent his son to die for you so you wouldn’t have to spend an eternity in hell. If that doesn’t show how much God cares, I don’t know what will. Whenever your friends leave you, it’s tough. But God will never leave you, and true friends won’t either.
The Battle of Sin:
We as Christians are in a battle to fight against sin. To turn away from sinful thoughts and fight against the darkness. But do you want to fight alone? You’re already fighting with God, so why not let your friends join your battle? It might be tough to admit it, but you can’t fight sin alone. But praying for your friends in battle, encouraging them and cheering them on, that’s when a Christian is at their strongest when fighting sin. Recruit some soldiers, we need to be willing to rally our friends to conquer sin together, with God as our leader.
So Much Joy:
I have so much to say about my friends, my family, and even my enemies. But one thing I hold so dear to my heart, is that when I see my friends and family’s faces, I can be filled with happiness, because those faces are going to show up in heaven too. I wish I could express to my friends and family how much I want to see them living with Christ, but I can’t sum it up in a few sentences, or a tweet, or a blog post. This post isn’t enough. But to all my friends and family who are in this crazy battle with sin, let us encourage each other daily.