Saturday, November 18, 2017

Respect for God, Others and Yourself



Something everyone in the world strives to gain is respect. We want to be respected by friends, by those close to us. We want those we lead to respect us. We want to be treated with respect for any number of reasons, be it position, title, age... I'm not talking about holding someone in prestige or on a pedestal. I'm talking about just giving them consideration and caring about them and their feelings, just to clarify.

But how often do we lack respect for those who deserve it, while desiring they give us respect?

We want our managers and bosses to respect us, but we don't give them respect.
We want our friends to respect us, but don't give them the same courtesy.
We want our family to respect us, but can't do the same for them.
Worst of all, we never respect God.

Oh, we may say we respect God, that we honor and hold Him in reverence. But do we really? Do our lives show any genuine respect for God, for what He has done for us and blessed us with? With our mouths we do service to Him, but I'm afraid our lives are sadly lacking.

When it comes to respecting God, we need to remember that it's hard to respect Him when we aren't grateful for all He has done for us. While we praise Him for blessings when we're in good times, we should remember that His goodness doesn't end when the good times do. We also shouldn't consider Him to be a genie that is only there to grant our desires, and be pushed into a corner when we don't need Him. The truth is, we need him 24/7. There's not a second of your life when you don't need God, and if you believe there is, you've been deceived into believing a lie.

Showing God the respect He deserves also include living a holy and separated lifestyle. Don't expect others to believe you truly love, honor and respect God when you see nothing wrong with tossing His Name around as an exclamation or swear word. Don't expect anyone to believe you when you treat your walk with God as something only to be thought of on Sundays, and forgotten as you live the other six days of the week doing whatever you please. Would you believe you? Do you think God believes you? I doubt it. Again, mouth service that has no genuineness in the heart!

It's no surprise then that we can't show respect to others or they don't show us respect, when we can't even show the smallest amount of respect for the most important One in our lives!

When it comes to your boss, perhaps that difficult manager at work- it's difficult to be respectful towards someone who makes doing your job hard, I know. But did that change how God intends us to act towards those that are in authority above us?

Ephesians 6:5-8:
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

God didn't say 'be obedient to those who are good to you, and give those who aren't a hard time.' He didn't say it was okay to be disrespectful to employers we dislike. As Christians, we should strive to be respectful despite it being difficult. Why? Because there is a lost world watching us to see what we will do. If we act like them- if we scoff, mock, scorn, turn up our noses, lash out at and throw childish tantrums towards those who are above us- do you really think that helps your testimony? Does it further the gospel in any way?

But why? Why does it matter? Why should we even try? Verse 7 explains exactly why. We are to work hard and be obedient and respectful, not for the employer's sake, but for Christ. We are to do service 'as to the Lord, and not to men'.

Now, on to the next tier: our friends. Is it even important to respect your friends?

Well, do you want friends? Then, yeah, it is.

We want our friends to respect us, right? To be courteous of our feelings and emotions, of what we do for them and how we want to be treated. Don't you think they want the same? Don't they deserve the same from us that we expect from them?

Would you consider a person who gossips and talks about you behind your back to be respecting you? Would you think a person who mocks you and makes jokes about you without feeling guilt or remorse is respecting you? Would you believe a person who is constantly talking down to you, judging you, criticizing you, saying hurtful things about you, treats you badly or ignores you unless you are convenient to them- would you believe they respect you as a friend? Would you?

Then how can you say you are a friend to someone while treating them with such disrespect?

Our friends deserve at least enough respect that we should care how we make them feel. If your actions are hurting another person, be honest. Admit it. And then stop. Don't keep on doing whatever it is that is causing them grief or pain. If you truly are their friend, you wouldn't have done it to start with.

There's a phrase I heard recently that I really, really like. Okay actually a few... but this one stood out. When it comes to gossip about/from friends, I would hope that you would have enough respect to make them never have reason to consider this to be about you:

"I'm not worried about what the gossips said about me; I'm worried about why they were comfortable telling it to you."

Maybe that's not worded exactly as I saw it, but it's close enough. If you don't disrespect your friends, then you wouldn't tolerate others disrespecting them either.

A respectful friend stands up and defends their friends. They treat them with the same kindness, love and concern they want shown to them. They would put their friends above their own needs and desires, making sure to take all care, regardless of cost, to not offend or hurt them.

Proverbs 18:24
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

All these things go for our families, too. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws... Whether they be blood related or not, we should learn to show love and respect at home, which makes it so much easier to show it outside our homes. You should value the love and respect of family enough to ensure it is mutual, and do all you must preserve that precious bond!

Lastly, what about yourself? I'm not encouraging or promoting a self centered lifestyle, by any means. But it is okay to respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to be disrespected.

It's okay to say, 'No, I'm not going to allow this person to hurt me, ridicule me, mock me, or disrespect me.' Don't let someone treat you badly- stand up for yourself. You don't have to return what they are doing to you, but you don't have to take it, either. Find a respectful way to get out or cut them from your life, from whatever or whoever it is. Don't stay and take it, you are worth more than that. Have enough self respect to know when it's okay to say no more, without getting an ego or letting pride take over.

Be humble, kind and respectful but know you don't have to be disrespected either. 

But let me remind you, don't mistake worshiping or making someone a idol for respect. Don't respect one person above another, as the Bible warns us about. Be kind and thoughtful, considerate and honest towards everyone because everyone deserves that courtesy.
And above anyone and everyone,
Respect God first and foremost in everything.




Sunday, November 5, 2017

Proud of You

Dear Sister in Christ,

To the one who is trying her best to live for Christ in a way that brings honor and glory to Him, who is doing things the right way,
I'm proud of you.

I know you feel like your type is rare, the type that is striving to remain pure, to shun all sinful choices and actions, and lead a life that is totally and completely Christ honoring. The truth is, there are so few girls like you. And that's why I'm proud of you.

I'm proud of the stand you take. Of the choices you make, the decisions you decide on every day- to remain holy and abstain from sin. I'm proud of the fact that you don't apologize or lower your standards to fit in. I'm proud of the fact that you remain strong in a world where even your peers try to drag your standards down and criticize them, make you feel holier than thou for having taken a stand and stayed with it. I'm proud of the fact that you have chosen and never veered away from choosing to glorify God with your life, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and then bear their mark for the rest of your life.

I'm so proud of you.
There are so few girls who will make this stand and stick with it. So few who choose to do things the right way.
Oh, I understand that some people have a past, perhaps from before they were saved or while they were backslidden. I understand that, and I applaud those who strive to live pure lives after that.

But I'm so proud of you, who has not had that past to deal with or outrun. You, my dear friend, are special. You deserve the honor and praise and recognition that you so rarely are given.
In all the years of my life, I've found less and less who will value the girls who don't have a past, who will give them the credit due for living a holy and pure lifestyle. We're not better than anyone else, but I know how important it is for us to have just as much encouragement as- if not more than- those who have a past and are trying to move on. We do deserve to be honored for striving to please God with holy lives. There are so many who praise those who strive to live pure lives after they have been in sin, we need more who praise those who never entered into sin to begin with. And so I say again,
I'm proud of you.

Thank you, my sister in Christ, for living a godly life. Thank you for being an example to younger girls that you can have a good, happy and enjoyable life without entering into sin. Thank you for standing strong for your sisters, friends, cousins, nieces... for those who look to the older girls and watch for examples of how a Christian girl should live. Thank you for showing it's possible to lead a life that doesn't bear the shadow of a sinful past.

I'm proud of you.
I know you might not receive much encouragement. Maybe even none. But believe me, my dear, the life you are leading is one that glorifies and honors God. I know He is so pleased that you are making the right choices. You are what He commands us to be!
Don't give up. Don't give in. Keep living in such a way that the next generation of Christian girls will look at your life and know they can live a pure, Christ-like, God honoring life of their own, without straying into sin which will leave a shadow following them the rest of their life. Stay in God's Word, stay strong and true to Him and the commands He has given us.

I'm so proud of you.
Your Sister in Christ,
Sincerely, Melissa




Wednesday, October 25, 2017

HEY YOU!

HEY!

You there! Reading this! Can you do a favor for me?

Smile. Don't question me, just do it.

Ahh, there we go. I thought for a moment there you might've forgotten how to smile.

I know, I know... life might be really tough for you right now. Probably have a lot of stress on your shoulders. There a lot going on and you feel just kind of like it's too much. But, believe it or not...

You're doing great. I mean, look at everything you are going through. Look at the amazing amount of strength you're holding onto and using to survive each day. Look at the way you're turning those troubles over to God and how He's taking care of each one.

You're pretty amazing!

What's that? You don't feel amazing, you say? Hmm. Well, I'm never wrong, so I would have to disagree. 

Who else is you? I mean down to your quirky habits and your taste in food. Who else can make their loved ones smile just by being alive? Who else can make their Heavenly Father happy just by being one of His creations? 

No, now, I won't listen to this 'there are better people out there in the world than me' garbage. And you can stop with the 'I'm useless, I'm worthless, I'm nobody' trash too. I won't tolerate that.

God doesn't make trash, garbage or worthless people.

Yes, I know you are human and have flaws. Guess what, we all do. Doesn't make you any less perfect for the life God has planned for you.

You have a past? Well, guess what, you also have a future. 

You feel like you mess everything up? Impossible. You can't. Sorry. God's still in control and He hasn't handed the reins over to you to ruin everything.

You think you're cared about by no one? Wrong. I care about you, even if I don't know who you are that's reading this. God cares about you. Your family cares about you. Your friends care about you. Your church cares about you. Trust me, a lot of people care.

Smile again. I saw that frown start, the tears well up. Smile.

Ahh, much better. I love it when you smile! Smiling is just the best, isn't it? I know it's hard to smile through tears sometimes but it's really hard to smile and not have even the tiniest ounce of joy. You might not even realize it's there, but it is. 

Hey, you want to know something? I want you to have a good day. Like, right this second, start having a good day. Decide to be happy and not let the devil take your joy away today. Keep smiling and keep your chin up and don't let anyone steal your fries or donut!

Wait, what? Um, sorry, wrong advice (but you smiled again, didn't you?)

Hey! I'm not done yet! 

So, if you get to feeling down again today, here's what I want you to do.

Remember God loves you.

Remember He is in control.

Remember He hasn't made anyone who is useless or worthless or a complete failure.

Remember that there's always a reason to smile- you're alive, aren't you?? That's a reason to smile.

Remember that if you've read this, I'm praying for you. Yeah, for you! I don't even know who you are but I've prayed for you already! 

And keep wearing that smile- it looks amazing on you!

Sincerely, Melissa