There are “right” actions, and “wrong” actions. How do we, as Christians, accomplish “right” instead of “wrong”? By focusing on the Answer, not the problem!
Actions Can Shorten or Lengthen Your Life
In the Bible we learn that there are actions that can lengthen our lives and actions that can shorten our lives.
This means that even though Jesus paid for our sins, our actions still matter. They just don’t dictate whether we make it to heaven or not. Jesus took care of that part on the cross.
Accepting the work of Jesus on the cross, however, does not take away the consequences of sin on earth.
If you commit sexual sin, your body and emotions will pay consequences for it. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, families could be destroyed, as well as health.
When bitterness is held inside, it causes stress to every part of the body, which can cause all kinds of problems, both physical and emotional.
These consequences do not come about because God is punishing you. As a follower of Jesus, your punishment was paid in full.
These consequences are due to natural laws that will not change as long as this earth is under the current management.
Stick your hand in a fire, it will get burned. That was not God’s doing. It is a consequence of holding the gift of free will in your hand.
Focusing on the Problem
So how do we manage to avoid these consequences?
As Christians, we have the Bible to teach us. We have sermons to lead us. All we have to do is follow the instructions that we are given and everything be peachy keen, right?
Wrong! When we read the Bible as a guide on how to do more for God, we end up focusing on ourselves. In reality, that is the problem, not the solution.
The more we attempt to follow the Bible’s instructions, the more we begin to focus on what we are doing.
How well are we living?
How much are we giving?
How much are we loving?
This can turn into a huge problem because the focus is on us. If we are living in sin, then we are condemned with guilt and usually continue to live in sin. If we are giving and loving, then we become proud of how good we are.
It becomes all about us either way.
Another problem with this focus is that we begin to look at others with the same judging eyes we use to look at ourselves.
When we look at others, we look at how well they are living, how much they are giving, and how much they are loving. Then we treat them according to what we see.
Side Note: When you see someone who is misleading or deceiving other believers, love demands that you deal shrewdly and even harshly with them, just as Jesus did with the Pharisees. Do this out of love for the sheep. Wolves cannot be tolerated in the flock.
Focus On the Love of God
The answer is to focus on the Love of God. That is the only place we can focus that won’t lead to the wrong actions.
Some Christians may not have a good understanding of just how God loves them. So just think about this. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to pay eternal punishment for each one of us.
When reading the Bible, look for the love of the Father, which is embodied in Jesus the Christ, instead of looking for what we can do for the Father.
This will create a dramatic change in the way we understand love, how we act, the way we see others, and the way we view our Father God!
A Picture of God’s Love
As an example of looking for the love of God when reading the bible, look at the story Jesus told to the Pharisees, which was a group of people who really didn’t understand the depths of God’s love. Frankly, I am not sure most Christians understand it any more today.
In this story, a father has two sons. One of them selfishly asks for his inheritance early and runs off to fulfill his desires.
When his money is all lost and he is so hungry that he is willing to eat the slop he is feeding to the pigs, he decides to go back to his father.
On his way back, his father sees him from afar, runs ( it was extremely undignified for an elderly man to run in that culture ), out to meet him on the road, and throws a huge party to welcome him back to the family.
Look at the Love of the Father, Not the Repentance of the Son
From the usual perspective, this rebel son repents and the father receives him back into the family.
Actually, when I read this story, I don’t see repentance at all. It looks like the only reason the son came back was because he was hungry.
He thought about the food that even his father’s hired hands had to eat, and he thought he would go back, give a fancy, humble speech, and get hired by his father.
He didn’t beg for mercy. He didn’t ask for forgiveness for throwing away his inheritance on sinful pleasures. He was still thinking of himself.
Did it matter to the father? Not at all. The Father loves us in spite of our motives. In spite of how we look on the outside. The Father just loves.
It’s All About the Father’s Love, Again
There is also another son in this story. This son stayed faithful to the father. He worked hard for the cause.
This brother did it right, so to speak. He was the faithful one, but when his father threw a party for his rebel brother, this second brother threw a fit.
Like a child, he pouted out in the barn and refused to come to the party. He could not believe that his father would throw a celebration for this rebel who had spit in the face of their father for so long.
When the father heard about this, he went out to this pouting child and loved on him. The father told him that everything he had belonged to him. Everything the father had was at his disposal.
Think of that. When we are faithful, even if we are pouting, we have all the wealth of the Father at our disposal! Wow! That is love.
The Father’s Love is The Answer
So, now you see that this story is not really about the rebel son. It is not really about his faithful, pouting brother either.
Neither brother did the right thing. Neither one had the right motives in his heart, yet they had one thing in common. They had a Father who loved and accepted them.
In this story, Jesus was painting a picture of the Father’s Love. A Love that doesn’t even remember that we sinned after we accept the gift of His Son Jesus.
So how do we focus on this Love in the real world?
When you run into a person or situation that you don’t like, instead of attempting to do the right thing or allowing yourself to react the wrong way in the flesh, focus on how much God loves you and/or that person.
Then, through that prism, act out His love in your situation.
Your reaction will be totally different than it ever would have been had you attempted it on your own. It will be the right action, and will not be due to you. It will be due to the love of God.
It’s all about Jesus, who is the Love of the Father to us.
His love is overwhelming, beyond perfection, beyond understanding, and ever-present. His love conquered sin. It destroys the work of the enemy! It seeds love in your heart! His love saves the unsavable!
The love of the Father is the Answer!!! Focus on that and your obstacle cannot stand!