Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
- Romans 13:10-14
It's easy to sleepwalk through life. The apostle Paul equates repentance and changing our lives to waking up from a nightmare. Our sin is compared to dirty clothes, God's righteous ways are seen as brilliant armor. God sees sinful living as sleeping though life, wearing filthy rags.
I spent decades feeling like I was on auto-pilot. Each day was a process of going through the motions and doing what was told or expected of me.
I finally realized I'd spent 30 over years on this planet and had no clue who I was. That was incredibly depressing to learn I had no sense of self. As a young teenager, I was in an abusive relationship, which became my inner monologue. Negativity and lack of identity were a burden I carried daily.
For my husband, a lot of his masculinity was found in the action movies he watched or the athletes he followed. He admits he believed that being dominant, powerful, brutish and a "player" was how manhood was measured. These lies of the enemy manifested in many destructive behaviors. He spent nearly 40 years subconsciously trying to destroy his own life.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything" - Alexander Hamilton
A major reason we came to Christ was to discover our individual identities.
When I started reading my Bible, the scriptures breathed life into me. God's word was giving me identity, filling me with drive and purpose. His word and His will aligned perfectly with the desires of my heart, desires I didn't even know I'd had. God's word filled the broken places within me, and promised hope.
My husband discovered that he could leave behind his insecurity and fear. He found freedom in the kindness of Christ's love . He found real strength in surrendering to Jesus.
We discovered that when we began to live according to God's word, it gave us the direction we'd lacked our entire lives. It taught us to prioritize what was important, and warned us what would be harmful.
We went from living a life that lacked purpose to a life that is content. We know what's important to us. We're excited about our future, and we are passionate talking about our testimony.
It may have taken over 30 years, but I know who I am. I know what I stand for. I found my identity and it gave me the courage to seek God's will for my life.
Romans 13:10-14 commands that we give our best to God and most of us would say we are. But, are we really? Have we taken an honest inventory of ourselves?
When I'm getting piled on and feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water, my default reaction has been to withdraw from the world. I sulked in self-pity and felt ready to throw in the towel.
"Things are never going to get better."
Lots of negative self-talk. Years of it!
But, when it finally clicked that being a victim got me nowhere, I began to take an honest inventory of my situation. I began to look at my reactions and how they reflected my faith- which wasn't much.
Then, I began to use my tough situations as challenges. A challenge to make my faith in God stronger than the enemies lies.
Romans 13:10-14 is very clear that we need to be obedient to God's authority. The Bible is forthright and provides instruction about how we're to carry ourselves as Christians.
However, most humans are curious by nature. We may be tempted to entertain sinful thoughts, as long as we don't step over the threshold. But, a sign of spiritual maturity is avoiding situations where our willpower and flesh will fail us.
If we're ready to receive the promises of God, we must give Him our very best in return. We must be deliberate in our actions and live according to God's word.
Are you ready to step out of mediocrity and rise? It's a new year and the perfect opportunity to be brave!