Be the Reason
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
A few weeks ago I was going through my 11-year-old’s phone – a regular occurrence in my household – and I noticed a friend of hers said something that I felt was just a little too “grown” for my taste.
It wasn’t anything completely inappropriate, but I sometimes like to think that my daughter is above middle-school drama. I immediately thought, “I’m going to tell Chloe that she can no longer be friends with this girl.” But, just as instantly as that thought came to my mind, I was convicted because here I was judging a situation and a person by one text message chain.
And of course, I started to try to find what God wanted me to learn from this. If you haven’t realized this about me, I challenge myself every day to become more like Jesus and I know, for me, that it starts with my thoughts. And, what I found out through studying is that God does not want us to eliminate people from our lives before we show them the love of Christ.
Would Jesus Write Us Off?
I had always been quick to write people off when I felt like they weren’t the right fit for my life. I would justify my actions by telling myself that I don’t need to be around negative people or that Christians don’t hang out with sinners. But when I looked deep within me, I found that I would write people off because I felt like they would hinder me in some way (selfish ambition), or that I deserve better friends (conceit).
After really poring over the Word of God, especially Philippians 2:3-4 ESV, I now understand that my previous method of managing relationships was not Christ-like and could be isolating to others.
God welcomes anyone who believes and the Church should be inclusive, not exclusive. When the Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus eats with sinners, Jesus responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17 ESV).
As believers, we cannot exclude and isolate people from Christianity, and then be confused as to why they aren’t rushing to join the local churches. We have to be the reason that others want to come and form or rebuild a relationship with God. Matthew 5:16 calls us to let our “light shine before others, so that they may see [y]our good works and give glory to [y]our Father who is in heaven” (ESV).
So, What’s the Play Call?
These are the things I tell my daughter about being the light of the world and winning others:
- “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV). As believers, we are walking billboards for Christ and someone is always looking to us and at us for an excuse to either believe or not believe. Nothing that we do should deter someone from believing.
- “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NIV). Never allow anyone in your group of friends to lead you down the wrong path. It is your responsibility to be a leader for Christ and to lead others to Christ.
- “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8 NIV). Always maintain self-discipline and don’t do anything that can be misconstrued as dishonorable or dishonest. We cannot give anyone an excuse to not follow Jesus. We must be the reason others open their hearts to God.
Someone is always watching – be the reason they believe that we serve a good and faithful God.