Wasn’t it nice to wake up this morning to ads about insurance and toothpaste instead of ads about political candidates?
I voted early this time and then kept the remote nearby so I could reach the mute button. As I write these words, I don’t know how the midterms will turn out. Hopefully, there won’t be any runoff elections in Texas. I think the mute button on my remote is wearing out!
As you read these words, you have probably heard reports of the election results. I don’t need to hear the statistics to write this blog post. I already know that half the country is happy and the other half is disappointed. Those feelings will be reflected in the faces we see today in our neighborhoods, places of business, and anywhere else we go. Hopefully, your home is of the same opinion, but even that isn’t guaranteed for everyone.
One thing is certain: it would be good to remember that the volume of our witness today will be set on high. Whether your candidates won or lost, people will be gauging your response.
Wise counsel from Hebrews
This is a good day to walk in the counsel of Hebrews 12:14 which says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Politics matter. Elections matter. But neither matters as much as helping people know the Lord.
The words of our witness today will be wiser if we allow Hebrews 12:14 to frame them. Picture a big box with a locked lid sitting next to a door. Imagine gathering your prideful thoughts, sinful thoughts, disappointments, and slander and then choosing to lock up every word produced from your natural self in that box before you step into your day.
How will your day turn out differently if you strive for peace with everyone? How many arguments or angry discussions can you avoid if you strive to be holy? Who will be impressed with your “peace” even if they disagree with your politics?
One thing I am certain of, even though I am not yet certain about the elections, is this: when we woke up this morning, God was still on his throne and his plans and promises are still in place.
Our faith is supposed to be an effort
Sometimes I wish it were easier to be a Christian in our culture. Then I remember what first-century Christians endured.
I remember what many Christians who first came to this country endured before and after their arrival. And, if you simply google “Christian persecution in the world” today, you will find the numbers shocking.
It is easy to be a Christian in our culture today compared to so many others. It just isn’t as easy as it was a few years ago. Interestingly, our Christian witness is getting a LOT more attention from the culture. That can be good and bad.
Peter wrote counsel to the early church that was very similar to the author of Hebrews. The Apostle wrote, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5–8).
There is a key phrase in that important passage that describes a Christian’s highest effort. If this became our great effort, we would live with a powerful witness to our culture. That phrase is how we can measure our day today and our lives. The phrase is: “If these qualities are yours and are increasing.”
Our great effort for today is to continually grow into the holiness Peter described. We need to do better this month than we did last month. We need to have a stronger witness for Christ this year than we did last year.
How do you typically measure your spiritual growth?
If we could step onto Saint Peter’s scale
Some people step on their bathroom scale every day to see what they weigh. Some people step on their scales less often. Some people aren’t sure if they still own a bathroom scale. Our weight usually fluctuates, especially in these next two months!
We don’t really need the scale to tell us what our waistbands are already shouting. Most of us will step on a scale, at least once in a while, hoping that maybe there is another explanation for the tighter fit. Maybe the dryer was too hot or maybe the fabric continues to shrink? Maybe the scale needs new batteries or maybe the settings are no longer working. (I’ve got a million of these ideas!)
But my real point is this: If St. Peter could have created a scale to measure spiritual growth, would we buy one, use it, and believe it?
If St. Peter’s scale registered “faith and virtue,” would we be overweight or underweight? If St. Peter’s scale measured “self-control and steadfastness,” would we be ejected from it? If St. Peter’s scale weighed our “godliness, holiness and love,” how far would the needle swing?
The real point of St. Peter’s scale is whether or not we are gaining.
Let’s make every effort to live like St. Peter taught
You will likely have an opportunity today to “increase” the standards of your faith and express the virtues Peter listed. Every day is an opportunity to “strive for” the peace and holiness that will help others know the Lord.
If Bed Bath & Beyond sold St. Peter’s scale, I would buy it. I would keep it someplace where I would see it often. Yet I can’t help but wonder if I would treat it like my bathroom scale and try to explain away the numbers.
That picture might be just what we need to live this day with the wise counsel from Hebrews 12:14. The good news about St. Peter’s scale is that “increasing” measurements are a good thing!
So, let’s get out there and live like Christians . . . and hopefully our witness will weigh more tomorrow than it does today.