Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Failing to yield - striving to rise above

1 Timothy 4:12

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

This verse has always been one of my favorites. Being a young Christian, or should I say being a Christian that is young, does not make me any less capable than those who are older.

From the moment I came to know Christ as my Savior and Lord, my goal has been to live in such a way that others might see Christ in me, even in my youth… especially in my youth!

Being young has its sets of challenges and enticements. It’s been my desire to not use my youth as a hindrance or a waste, but as an example. To be an example in what I say, in the way I live, in my love, faith, and purity.

However, often times I fall short of this and show myself to be the sinner I am.

I confess that just the other day, I fell short once again….and it just so happened to be over something as simple as a shirt.

Every 4th, I find it so fun to be able to find a festive shirt to wear. Every year it’s a struggle. They tend to be sold out, expensive, or immodest. The majority of the time when I am making clothing decisions, I don’t allow excuses for purchasing something I shouldn’t. But, as hard as it is to admit, I gave into something that wasn’t quite up to my standards this year… or maybe it wasn’t my standards, but God’s that I fell short of.

Maybe to the world my festive shirt was cute, fun, and looked good in pictures. Maybe to me it was close to perfect and only slightly immodest…You know, “not that bad”...especially “compared to what everyone else is wearing”. BUT if that’s all it is, then I missed the whole point.

 It’s not about what others think or even what I think. It’s about what God thinks.

I may have worn it the whole day and thought it was cute, but the fact of the matter is, the whole time I also felt that God was calling me to something higher. Something more. Something better. Deep down I knew when putting that on, it wasn’t what God desired of me.

Sure, it was festive and fun and it looked good in pictures. But by giving in and wearing that, it meant failing.

Failing to yield to the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

Failing to rise above the world’s standards, and even my own standards, for the sake of the highest standard: God’s.

Failing to stand out and lead as an example of Christ.

Maybe the whole thing was completely harmless in the eyes of the world. But I know that’s not enough. I know that’s not ok. I know God’s standards are higher. I know He seeks more of me.

I confess that I gave into the festivities, and my own selfish desires. I confess that my voice and the voice of the world began to speak louder than that of Gods. I allowed it to be so and my heart now aches because of it.

How often is this true of myself? How often do I allow the world’s voice to speak louder than God’s? How often do I fail to yield to the Spirit’s conviction for the sake of myself or this world’s attention? How often do I sink to the world’s standards? How often do I fail to live and lead as the example God seeks me to be?

Yes, often times it is my clothing that is a stumbling block. But more often than not, it’s other things too. Maybe what seems so harmless in our eyes and the eyes of the world is actually grieving God to the highest.

It pains me to know that I had a chance to rise above and stand out for HIS sake, yet I gave that up for a silly shirt. It pains me to have felt the tug of conviction yet shoved it aside for something that is only important looking through the eyes of the world.

Although my heart aches because of the choice I made, I’m thankful for the burden that God laid on my heart over this issue. After all, if our heart is not being burdened in some way by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then is our heart really in the right place?

Oh, how I pray that I would begin to silence my own voice and that of the world’s so that the voice of Christ’s is all that I can hear and respond to.  I pray that all of us would stop living by the standards of this world and instead, seek out and live by God’s standards. Because no holiday, no hot weather, no special occasion, no anything is an excuse to be less than God’s best.