While casually scanning through the list of the many blogs that I follow, one that was titled “5 Things We have Too Many Of” peaked my interest. I was intrigued enough to click on it as I wondered what things I might be guilty of hoarding. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but her list was intensely practical. To her, sheets, towel and blankets are three of the top offending clutter monsters. She also displayed her kitchen cabinets full of random cups, mugs and glasses (OK, she got me on that one!) Her list rounded out with gloves, hats and winter scarves. Knowing that in my house, one would be doing exceptionally well to find two matching gloves when it’s cold enough in Georgia to justify wearing them, I finished skimming the post and made a mental note to perhaps buy an extra pair or two of gloves before winter is over.
Before I closed the blog, I scrolled back to the top and thought about the title again. Since most of these didn’t really apply to me, I started thinking about what I might have included if it were my job to write the list. It didn’t take but a minute to jump from the practical realm to the spiritual one as I quickly made the list my own! However, mine isn’t a nice neat one with crisp pictures of over-stuffed closets. Instead, it includes serious things that can easily clutter our lives and hinder our ability to impact others with the truth of Christ. So begging your pardon for the grammar, I’ll borrow her title and give my version of “5 Things Believers Have Too Many Of…”
- Critical comments – I tell my kids all the time to work on their vocabulary and English skills in school. Not just so they can pass a test, but because people judge us by the words we use. That’s not only the case for students writing term papers, it’s true for anyone. When our words are filled with criticism, complaining, condescension, and ingratitude, people make judgments and determinations about us… and for believers that, in turn, reflects back on the God who’s name we claim! We need to conscientiously rid our language of negativity, and install Ephesians 4:29 as the filter over our words. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
- Unforgiving attitudes – Memories can be wonderful blessings that help us savor the best moments of life, but they can also be detrimental to our well-being when we hang onto the recollection of intentional or unintentional offenses that others commit against us. When we stack our souls full of bitterness and anger, we choke off the flow of God’s love both to and through us. We need to sort through our unforgiving attitudes with a proper understanding of the enormity of our own personal sin. When we allow the greatness of Christ’s forgiveness to us to be in the forefront of our thinking, we realize that no matter what others have done to us, it pales in comparison to what we ourselves have been forgiven of by God.
- Lingering Regrets – Our lives can sometimes feel like a strange conglomeration of highs and lows. But sometimes we minimize our successes while magnifying our failures too much. Exaggerated remorse over bad decisions, deliberate sin or missed opportunities can easily become a toxic brew that eats away at our productivity, usefulness and joy. While we can’t scrub away what’s already been done, we can minimize the present and continuing effects by accepting and living in the full pardon extended to us through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s cancelled our debt so we are in turn released to forgive ourselves! Paul challenges us to embrace a forward focus in Philippians 3:13-14. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
- Indifferent Mindsets – Do you know where the country of Mali is located? How about Chad? Does Tunisia ring a bell? There are lots of people (particularly in America) who don’t know where these countries are, and to be honest, many don’t really care. But there are millions of people who live in these countries… millions who need to know Jesus Christ as Savior, and without Him, are destined to die and be separated from God forever. But even that truth doesn’t stir the hearts of some Christians. Neither does the fact that many of the people with whom they work, and live are destined for the same fate. In perhaps the most well-known verse of the Bible, God says that He “so loved the world” that He “gave His one and only Son” so that they wouldn’t “perish” but be gifted with “eternal life.” (John 3:16) God’s heart is for the world… and He has tasked His church with the responsibility of taking His message of redemption and restoration to the teaming masses of people that He loves. But we cannot share in this passion of God’s heart if we don’t share His concern for the people around us. We must unpack our lives of this indifference and callousness before we can see our friends and neighbors through the eyes of our compassionate Lord.
- Prideful hearts – There is a subtle attitude God despises above all others that clogs the ability of a Christian to effectively do His work. It’s the attitude that whispers to us that we can from our own resources be strong enough, smart enough, powerful enough, or resourceful enough to successfully live the Christian life. Padding our thinking with our own prideful self-sufficiency stifles our ability to accomplish anything of spiritual significance. (Remember that God opposes the proud – James 4:6). Only after we clear away those lies and replace them with an attitude of humility and dependence upon the Lord will His character begin to shine through our lives. Then… we can draw on true strength that’s found solely in Him.