Christians like to think they’re good people. But deep down many of us wonder if we can ever be good enough. After all, God is perfect. God is holy. And God has standards.
As stated by the apostle John, anyone who says they have no sin is a liar. And so we’re left with a problem. Even if we’re saved by grace, we struggle because we’re always reminded that compared to God’s standards, we fail miserably. And this leads to guilt, to despair and finally to indifference.
We wear ourselves out because we put on heavy burdens Jesus never meant for us to carry. And then numb to it all, we turn our back on both God and our neighbor.
Asking how we can be good is fruitless. It’s also the wrong question. The reason it’s the wrong question is because it has the wrong focus.
How can I be good? How can I be accepted by God? How can I be happy…all this is navel gazing. These are ME centered questions. And when we ask ME centered questions, it’s all about our endless needs, our numerous wants and our ever changing insecurities. It’s OK to ask these once in awhile. But when it becomes a lifelong habit, it’s a recipe for us to forever remain insecure and small.
The right questions to ask are almost always God centered questions. ME centered questions put our tiny selves at the center of the universe. But God centered questions put the focus back where it belongs. To the Holy, Majestic and almighty God. The eternal One who created the universe and everything in it.
Asking The Right Questions
So what are the right questions? Is there really a magical list to present to the Lord Almighty? Perhaps. But if there’s a list it’s certainly too big for my wallet. Here are the two wallet sized questions that most people want to know about.
- What is our purpose in life?
- How do we fulfill our purpose?
What Is Our Purpose in Life?
Answer: Man’s purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In case you’re wondering, no, the Bible does not say this word for word. This is something from the Westminster Catechism. But if you’re unsure about this, note what Scripture says. The Bible is very clear we are to praise Him. We are to rejoice in Him. And most of all, we are to delight in Him.
How Do We Fulfill Our Purpose?
If our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then how do we achieve this? The answer for Christians is both simple and yet hard to put into practice. To fulfill our purpose, we must follow the two greatest commandments. Jesus summed it up this way: We are to Love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. And we must love our neighbor like we love ourselves.
So what does this look like? How do we love God? And how do we love people? Again, it all comes down to asking the right questions. Notice I didn’t ask what can we do for God? Or what must we do for our neighbor?
Certainly when you ask the right questions, God will at some point answer you by stirring your heart to take concrete action. But again, the right questions are God centered, not ME centered. The focus is always on Jesus and your relationship with Him. It’s not on a set of buttons to push or toggles to flip so you can check a box and move on.
What to Pray For
There’s no formula on what to pray for. But your focus should be on a real live relationship with a God who is holy, a God who is all powerful, and amazingly enough, a God who actually wants to have a dialogue with you! This “together” time with God is a big deal for Him. The reason is that God not only loves you. He actually likes you!
You want to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength? Then in prayer ask God “LORD, WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES YOU SMILE? Show me what’s in your heart. I want to make you smile today!”
This is an intimate prayer. A prayer where we ask to see God’s face, not His hand. Where and when you pray to Him is up to you. As for me, I create a special time in the early morning while I dry off from my shower and am free from distraction. While on my bed, I say to Him, “Hi Lord, it’s me, Hello! I’m here again. So what makes you smile Lord? What’s in your heart for me to do today. Or to be today?“
I want to know what’s important to Him. And He delights in giving me answers! He will do the same for you if you ask Him in faith. He’s that loving. This God of ours is not just creative, He’s also interactive!
When you ask Him about His heart, He will focus you on Him and then show you how to love your neighbor. He’ll also reach your heart with answers to your ME questions. Nothing is perfect this side of Heaven. But who needs perfect? Go forward in faith. ASK in Jesus’s name. It’s up to Jesus to do the rest. And our God will not disappoint.
One Way God Has Shown Me How to Love People (The Dollar Store)
So just how do you love your neighbor like yourself? Does it involve some heroic sacrifice like donating your kidney? Or should we look for the very thing we least enjoy so we can suffer oh so righteously by doing it?
One trick of the devil is to get you to think so impossibly big, that you never pay attention to the small and attainable. And so you ignore the little steps while never getting around to the “big ones.”
Don’t believe the lie that you must love big or not at all. Our God does not despise small beginnings. And He will help you as you move forward in the little things.
Remember the three guys with the talents? Even the one with the least of all resources would have been blessed abundantly had he simply taken a few baby steps. God will honor your faith. He will give you creative and exciting ideas that involve loving Him and loving your neighbor.
And just in case you’re wondering. Your neighbor is anyone within your sphere of influence. This could be your coworker, your customer, the guy who lives next door or the barista at Starbucks! Trust me you’ve got lots of neighbors.
For me, I love my neighbor through the dollar store. Yes, the dollar store has such nice bright shiny things. Cheap, happy, colorful toys that come from the distant and ever mysterious Far East!
And so like the 50 year old kid that I am, I’ll go aisle by aisle, shopping for things that make me and others happy. I’m always game if it’s fun, simple and cheap. Especially if it’s something cute that squishes, bounces, and lights up all at once.
And whenever I enter the Dollar Store, I ask our Jesus to show me what to buy. Because even here, the Lord is at work spreading His joy and building His relationships!
From there, I hand out squishy tapioca stress balls to workaholic VPs, overwrought directors and even my CEO. I delight in presenting bouncy light up balls to the people in my walking group or at church. It’s fun to make them smile. Or to see the joy they get by passing it on to a nephew or niece. I also ask the Lord how He can use this to glorify His name. To create openings and new connections.
This means praying so that I’m ready for the unexpected. If someone decides to open up about a problem or I’m meant to share about the Jesus I love, I want to be available to rise to the Lord’s occasion. So when it’s all done, I can know in my heart that I made the Lord smile. I won’t have to worry about my performance. For my heart was His heart and my desire was His desire.
Songs to Help You Delight in the Lord
Joy (Tori Harper)
I love to feel your joy…
What You Want (Tenth Avenue North)
A reminder that our God wants us as followers not leaders. And yet with Him in the lead, we find ourselves going forward with power and truth.
Stars Go Dim-Heaven On Earth
This one fills me with joy and a desire to go forward in boldness and love.
Does God Like Us?
If God likes us, how is this different than love? Does it change how we spend our time with Him?
Feeling Guilty For Past Sins
When we feel guilty about what we’ve already confessed to, it’s just pride in disguise! So why do we do this? And how can we do better next time?