We must acquire the ability to engage in, and even enjoy, things that lead us to God without making idols of these things. All these activities, as pleasant as they are, are a means to a great End. We must constantly bring our minds back to that End.
We fear other people because there is too little fear in our relationship with God. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Jesus commanded, “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Most things are capable of more than one explanation. Rather than jump to the worst possible interpretation, we need to do for others what we always hope they’ll do for us: believe the best until the facts force a more negative conclusion.
Even when our sins are inadvertent, in most cases we still have some personal responsibility. It often happens that we’re more ignorant and weak than we ought to be, given the time and opportunity God has granted us to grow (Hebrews 5:12).
Often, we don’t see how poor we are, like the Laodiceans whom the Lord rebuked: “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Jesus said, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). We do ourselves a favor, and we show the greatest honor to God, when we loosen our grip on our lives in this world.
Our destiny hangs upon our decision as to what to do about the light. Either we’ll accept the momentary pain of repentance, or we’ll suffer the eternal pain of regret. Jesus said it is the truth that will make us free. Is that what we seek or not?
In the end, it will be evident that most of the “urgent” matters that tried to claim our attention were simply inconsequential. Before it’s too late, we need to stop our frantic fixing of things “out there” and start working on things “in here.”
We were created to desire unity, but there is very little of it to be found in the present world. Here, the norm is enmity, not unity. We don’t have to look any further than the daily news (or in the mirror) to know that many things have gone awry.
When we suffer, we can be thankful not for the pain but for its result: a heart more joyously fixed on God. Slowly but surely, God is conforming us to His character. Sometimes with pleasure and sometimes with pain, He is teaching us what love is.