“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” Philippians 4:8 (NLT).
The phrase, “high school never ends,” holds so much truth in the adult world we live in. How many times do I still feel myself sitting in that high school cafeteria feeling like I’m being “sized up” by others or like I have to constantly prove myself?
You know the days when you wake up feeling rested with a smile on your face, only to step out the door and find the world retaliating against you in some way or another? At work, there can be people who set unrealistic deadlines, but still expect perfect performance. At home, there is the pressure of managing an organized household, maintaining hectic schedules and still managing to have dinner on the table at a decent hour. Even our friends and family can say or do things that cause us to question whether what we are doing is good enough.
It’s enough to make your head begin to ache and then before you know it, the smile on your face is wiped away only to be replaced by one ugly, grumpy frown.
In my Bible study time this past week, I read Chapters 11 through 15 in the Book of Romans. In these Chapters, Paul teaches us of the unending and boundless love God has for His people. We are also instructed on how to live as God’s children in a very imperfect and demanding world.
There are lessons in loving one another through forgiveness – loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are to be wary of criticizing others for their weaknesses and we are urged to accept others for who they are. This eliminates our need to judge, because there is and only should be one judge and that is God.
I think, for me, Chapter 15 spoke volumes on the importance of not just pleasing ourselves; but rather, living “in complete harmony with each other” – if we want to live a life like Christ did (see Romans 15:5). Paul reminds us, “Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them” Romans 15:8-9 (NLT). A “servant” is exactly what Christ was. It should be our motivation to want to be like Him and show that “servant” attitude to those we encounter in our daily lives.
We live in a world that is diverse – not only in race and culture, but also in beliefs, economic status, etc. Considering this, it is inevitable that we all will disagree with one another from time to time. However, we must be careful to not favor those who think and act like we do. It is our responsibility as God’s children, to embrace everyone – no matter what their differences.
Acceptance and embracing the good is the key. How often do we fail in this? Sadly, I have heard numerous comments by other mother’s that have children at the same school as my son who find it beneficial to rip apart teachers or other parent volunteers when they feel something is done in a way that they don’t agree with or see fit. While I may see their point of view, I do not see the value in gossiping behind others backs about it. In my opinion, that is not a Christian attitude. We need to support our teachers and caregivers and communicate with them when we don’t see things the same way.
Even with our own family and children we can fail at acceptance and embracing the good. I know for myself, I have been guilty in the past of expecting certain behavior and responses from my loved ones that are not always realistic, because I have a certain “agenda” or unrealistic “expectation” that I have placed on them. For example, when I’m rushing to get out the door and I want my son to finish a task quickly in order to do so, it is not fair or realistic for me to expect that he finishes that task adequately. After all, I did not allow adequate time for him to finish it.
In the same respect, when I do encounter the gossiping mom on the school ground, I can choose to participate in it, walk away from it or respond in a way that is pleasing to God. I don’t need to let a negative comment prevent me from participating in school events, because I don’t want to hear the gossip. I would serve God better by helping out at my son’s school in a way that honors my God-given gifts and in a way that serves the children.
High school doesn’t end. That is true. But, what is never-ending is God’s love for all of us and for the powerful example that exists for all of us through the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the message Paul gives to us on the importance of looking for the good in all things. It is through Jesus’ example as servant that we can respond as such to the people and distractions that surround us every day. May Your Holy Spirit protect us, dear Lord, from the evil that exists to try and pull us farther from You. Help us to display a servant attitude to the people we encounter in our daily lives, so we can live at Peace in You. I ask this in Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.