Have you ever taken a walk with someone that either walks much faster than you…or lags way behind? Suddenly, the once enjoyable stroll becomes exasperating because you’re out of step with each other. This verse tells us we should walk with God… not running ahead with impatience, nor falling behind in disobedience…but side by side. For when we walk beside the Lord, we are walking in His perfect Will…and in His ultimate plan and purpose for our life.
Whether we want to admit it not not, we all seek the approval of others. But there are some that push the limits and become real “people-pleaser’s”…those who intentionally solicit the favor of everyone around them at the expense of their own reputation. They want so badly to be liked that they will compromise their integrity, character, and good name just for approval. But people are fickle and pleasing all at the same time will never happen. For it’s only God that we must place our will under and seek to please.
This verse can be boiled down to this…if we obey God, we’ll be blessed…but if we disobey Him, we’ll be cursed. Ultimately, it’s our choice how we will live here on earth. Our life’s journey can include a relationship with the Lord or not…it can be full of joy, peace, and blessings, or not. It’s our choice. But if you talk to someone who’s been a Believer for a while, they will tell you that the benefits of having a relationship with Jesus Christ far outweighs anything the world could ever offer them.
Christianity isn’t a one and done experience. For in this verse we see Jesus didn’t address just the crowd but His disciples also…men that had been following Him for years…men that had witnessed first hand miracles, teaching, and preaching on a daily basis. Men that should have had this concept down pat…but obviously didn’t. Our journey as a Believer is ongoing and lifelong. It’s a daily conscious decision of our Will to give up our self and in obedience conform to the example we have before us…Jesus Christ. It’s a long and winding road of faith and life we need to daily direct our feet to follow.
Early in this Chapter, God tests Abraham by demanding his son of promise, Issac. God was refining Abraham’s character by commanding his loyalty and charging him to live in obedience. Anytime God tests us it’s for our ultimate benefit and good. Testing and sacrifice are just part of our journey towards self-discipline and holiness. Sacrifice is offering back to God the only thing I have to give… a love-gift of myself…of giving the best I have to the One I love the most.
When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah must have thought to himself, “What’s an ark?”. And even though God gave him explicit, precise and detailed instructions on the assembly of said ark, (verses 14-21)…to Noah it surely would have seemed like just an impossible dream. But it says despite not knowing exactly how he was going about it…Noah did everything just as God commanded. Now likely God hasn’t called you to build a 450′ x 75′ x 45′ boat in your back yard…but there’s probably something He is calling you into right now…and you’re resisting, because to you it’s an impossibility…but to God nothing is impossible. For God will always go before you, giving you precise and detailed instructions… just like He gave Noah.
Jesus wasn’t cocky or arrogant. Nor was He condescending, even though He had every right to act in this manner. Just imagine, God came down from heaven and willingly became nothing. He humbled Himself to the lowest of social status…a slave or servant, as an example for us to follow. Servant-hood is probably one of the hardest things to do and do well. Our selfish human nature would rather be waited on, rather than wait on others. And the whole humility and obedience thing is in direct contradiction with everything the world tells us to do. But it all starts with our attitude as the verse says. For we can bring under submission our bad attitudes and then take on the role of servant for His glory. We can extend His grace and mercy with genuine love and concern if we become humble and obedient… with Jesus as our guide.
The first time Jonah heard God say, “Go!”…He ran in the opposite direction. So surprisingly, when Jonah head God say, “Go!” this time, he obeyed. So what changed? Not God. His command was simple, straight forward, and didn’t waver in what He wanted Jonah to do. Nor was it the people of Nineveh who God wanted Jonah to warn. They remained a perishing and lost people of the Assyrian capital. No, the only thing that had changed was Jonah’s heart. In the belly of that great fish, Jonah had received a second chance…and with it then came an attitude adjustment on Jonah’s part. For our God is the God of second chances…from Jonah, to the Ninevites, to us… the Lord gives all of us second chances to change.
Our walk with the Lord is a process…a long, sometimes difficult passage, from what we once were, to what we are becoming. But what happens many times, we end up feeling stuck in the middle of our old and new self. So that’s when it’s time to take inventory. Turn around and take a critical view of your old self…not a pretty picture, right? Now, ponder where your life is today with the Lord’s help. It’s nothing short of a miracle in how you have grown in the knowledge of God…and with that knowledge, how you have been changed. None of us will every be able to say, “I’ve arrived!” when it comes to the full knowledge of God…but as long as we continually strive for more of Him in our lives…we’ll be making headway.
I’ve heard them called shoulder taps, or God moments. It’s when the Holy Spirit impresses on your spirit to speak or do something for someone…sometimes a complete stranger. It’s when that still small voice tells you to perform a kind act, or speak words of encouragement into a person’s life. It may not be profound…it may only take a minute of your time…but know that this interaction is divinely arranged…and requires your obedience without hesitation. These shoulder taps are a way that God manifests His love to a lonely and lost world…and what He asks of us is to just hear and obey. So, step out in faith when the Holy Spirit urges you…for you never know the impact you may have on someone’s life.