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Sunday, October 25, 2015


In my business as in many it is good to be outstanding in your field. Or, as the popular joke goes, out standing in your field.

Not quite the same, are they? Outstanding and out standing are, in some sense, opposites. One is excellence and the other is exile. As it turns out, Christians are expected to be both. We are supposed to be reflectors of the glory of God. Outstanding. We are to be "in but not of" the world. Out standing. How do we do that? How do we stand out from the world?

A shining example
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16)
That was Jesus's idea. "By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) That's the way it should be. On the negative side, Paul said, "Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." (Eph 5:3) On the positive side, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (Rom 12:10)

In what ways could we be shining examples?

A biblical marriage
I told my sons of the time when, in order to get ahead at work, you had to be the best. "These days," I told them, "you just have to show up regularly and on time." They laughed ... and discovered I was right. It used to be that in order to be a "good spouse" you had to excel at all sorts of stuff. These days the simple lifelong commitment to one person is dazzling. "You've been married for how long?" Fifty years was great. Today, 20 is amazing. We should be "for life."

A few years back a young Christian I worked with sent out wedding invitations to his coworkers. Overheard in the next cubicle: "I asked him if he had slept with her yet. [Incredulously] He hasn't! Is that even possible? Who does that?"

A commitment to sex within the confines of marriage (Heb 13:4) and a lifelong commitment to one spouse (Matt 19:6) would make you stand out beyond most today. Add to that a wife that submits to and respects her husband (Eph 5:22-23, 33; 1 Peter 3:1-6) and a husband who sacrificially loves and honors his wife (Eph 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7), and you will be stellar.

Having and enjoying children
The Bible says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!" (Psa 127:3-5) Luckily, modern society knows better. Children? Well, maybe. But certainly not like those ridiculous "19 and counting" kind of families. "Hey, 4 is probably 2 too many. Maybe 3 too many. For some of us, even 4 too many." Viewing children as a heritage from the Lord, a reward, a blessing would make you glow in the dark to a world obsessed with self.

Not keeping up with the Joneses
Maybe it's not the Joneses. Maybe it's just "what I want". But we want a lot and we will spend every last dime ... no, scrap that ... money we don't have to get what we want and get it now. I mean, who can live without the latest iPhone, a TV in every room, a couple of cars and maybe some recreational vehicle(s) of some sort? Imagine, instead, a person dedicated to property as a steward rather than consumer. "This isn't mine. What I have is given to me by God. What I seek is to glorify God, not to amuse myself with more." (James 1:17; Matt 6:33; Matt 6:21) Truly a stand-out approach.

Give ... give, give, give
A rich man was asked, "How much is enough?" He answered, "Just a little bit more." Imagine turning that axiom on its head. Not "How much is enough for you to get?" but "How much is enough to give?" Imagine a life marked by "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) That would be time, resources, self, just about anything God has given us to give. Even in the world today people who give rather than take are notable stand outs. Christians should be marked by it.

Commitment to the Body of Christ
Since Christianity is marked by a "one another" ethic and we are commanded to be part of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:4-27) and not neglect gathering together (Heb 10:23-25), it would seem that being part of a local gathering of Christians would be important. I'm not talking about "attending church". I'm talking about interaction. Sitting in a pew (or whatever the modern equivalent might be) and singing and listening to a sermon is not how we "love one another" or exercise the gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit. A genuine, life-involving commitment to the Body of Christ makes you a stand out even among a lot of Christians these days. And that's a good thing.

Bless and not curse
Multiple places in Scripture we are told to "bless and not curse" our enemies. This assumes enemies. And it assumes that the natural response to enemies is "curse" and not "bless". If you are a person who, by the power of God (Phil 2:13), opts to "bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:28), you won't stay hidden for long. There will definitely be something different about you that people will notice. If you defend your faith "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15), you'll be outstanding.

The Bible has some interesting descriptions of believers. We are called ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). That is, this world is not our home; we're just emissaries from God's kingdom here to share what God has sent us to share. We are heavenly beings in human suits on assignment. Peter calls us "sojourners". That is, we're only staying here temporarily. If we keep that kind of mentality, it ought to have ripple effects on how we live. Gathering "stuff"? Makes no sense. Paul describes a final test we'll all see where our works are tested by fire (1 Cor 3:11-15). I guarantee most of what this world calls "good" or "success" will be burned up in that fire. We are sojourners. We are just passing through. Living for eternity rather than a few years here will make you a real outstanding person.

Let your light so shine (Yes, I know I just repeated it.) We need to be outstanding. We need to stand out. And it is expected (and even good, biblically) that this will make us exiles in many senses. But our aim must be to glorify God in all we do. So "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Be outstanding.

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