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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

There’s an old song I remember singing in Sunday School that went something like this:

O be careful little eyes what you see

O be careful little eyes what you see

There’s a Father up above

And He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little eyes what you see

The song went on to remind us to be careful about the things we hear with our ears, do with our hands, say with our mouths and go with our feet. It is important to remember that the God of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord or Lords is with us wherever we go. He hears what we say, sees what we do and goes where we go.

One would think that the fact that our Heavenly Father is with us 24/7 would keep us from doing things that displease Him, but it doesn’t. We still say things that are hurtful. We still use God’s name in vain, and look at things we shouldn’t look at. We still hurt people physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes the hurt we place on people is unintentional. Sometimes it’s well thought out and brutal. Either way it not only hurts the other person, it hurts our Heavenly Father, who continues to love us in spite of our reckless behavior.

As you travel along the path of life remember that not only is Your Father watching what you do, other people watch you as well. Your words and actions, the places you go and the things you do are all a reflection of what God is like. Just as the moon is a reflection of the light of the sun, each of us should strive to be a reflection of God to others.

The bad news is, we’re all human. We all fall far short of the ability to reflect Christ’s love 24/7 to those around us, especially those around us who are hurtful, angry, judgmental and vindictive.

The good news is that our Father in Heaven knows we can’t possibly be a perfect reflection of Christ to others. He loves us anyway, even when we are being poor reflections! He’s willing and able to forgive us no matter how many times we fail Him…and others. He is the God of second and third and fourth chances.

When you fail [and you will!] remember that you can come to your Heavenly Father and be forgiven. When others fail you, don’t allow their attacks to affect how you feel about yourself. God and God alone is your judge and He’s a fair, loving and merciful judge who not only knows your weakness but is willing to help you through the struggle.

PRAYER: Father God. Every day I get out of bed with the determination to be a perfect reflection of your love and mercy. Every day I fail in what I say, listen to, or do. I get hurt by those I love the most and retaliate to those who hurt me. Please help me to live in the wisdom that comes from you so that I can be a perfect reflection of your love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15

I knew a man who loved to talk about himself and others. When he talked about himself the comments were always positive. He apparently could do no wrong and was an unsung hero in many ways. On the other hand when he talked about others (except of course for those in hearing range) he could always find something wrong with what they did, say, or wore for clothing. No one else measured up to his standards.

Needless to say he didn’t have many friends. We’d sit at lunch during work and hope he didn’t sit at our table. One day he was going on and on about himself when another co-worker, a gentle, soft spoken and well respected believer in Jesus, came into the lunch room. He was still out of earshot when our ‘prophet’ said, “I don’t like him”. I was curious so I asked why he didn’t like that person and he replied, “I don’t know. I just don’t like him. Nice guy though.”

His statement made no sense, as was the case in many of his tirades, but his words stuck with me. The writer to the Hebrews tells us to live at peace with all people as much as is possible. The co-worker that entered the lunchroom that day, I’ll call him Jeff, did nothing to deserve the ‘prophets’ disdain. In fact, the ‘prophet’ even admitted his feelings were unwarranted.

Jeff had done ‘everything right’. He lived the Christian faith in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way. He wasn’t afraid to share his faith but he would far rather share it through actions than through words. He wasn’t always liked by people. But even those who disliked him could find no reason for accusation.

As a Christ-follower we each have an opportunity to share the love and grace of God to others by our actions. We may not always be accepted. Some will point out our weaknesses and failures and completely disregard the positive aspects of who we are. Our goal as Christ-followers is to live in such a way that others may not like us but will have no grounds for their negative feelings about us.

Live in such a way that you are the solution to the bitterness in people’s lives, not the cause.

PRAYER: Father God. I come to you today realizing that there are things in my life that have caused bitterness in the souls of other people. I confess this to you and ask that you would forgive me for the pain I’ve caused others even if they refuse to forgive me. From this day forward empower me with your Spirit to spread grace and love to those around me so that Christ will be glorified in me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10

An old Native American saying goes something like this: “Never judge a man until you have walked two miles in his moccasins.” This saying should be the battle cry of each of us as we travel life’s journey. We should think twice, or even three times before we judge the attitudes and actions of other people. We may not like what we see. We may disagree completely with their response to events in their lives. But we should never make a judgment about why they are doing what they do.

God wired each of us differently. Parents know this. What other explanation is there for the way their children grow up? Two lives brought into the world by the same parents. Both have the same opportunities. Both have the same background experiences. Yet one child will grow up angry and the other patient and kind; one child will be a people person while the other is more of a social misfit; One will follow the rules while the other will seek every chance they get to break them; one will love and serve God while the other will reject faith.

No one reacts the same exact way to any situation. Yet we tend to expect that of people. If God works one way in your life, you expect Him to work the same way in someone else’s life. You may enjoy working with your hands while someone else enjoys office work or computer work. Is one better than the other? Is one more rewarding? To you maybe, but not to someone else.

Proverbs 14:10 reminds us of two great truths for Christ-followers. First of all, take great care in how you respond or react to someone’s actions or attitudes. You may see them as being inappropriate and they may be. But until you know the whole story, don’t assume you know the reason someone acts the way they do.

Secondly, remember that God knows your heart. Just as He expects us to be patient and understanding with those around us, He is patient and understanding towards us. He knows, better than anyone else, why you are struggling with whatever issue is troubling you today. He understands and desires to come close to you so that he can love you and encourage you.

There is a third lesson to learn from this proverb. The last phrase says: “no one else can share its joy”. There will be times when people will fail to understand why you are so happy. They may try to dispel that joy by pointing out the darkness and turmoil around you. Don’t allow them to keep you from living a life full of happiness and fulfillment. Joy isn’t about surroundings and circumstances. Joy is about inner peace that is only received through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Your Heavenly Father loves you. Others will say they understand you, but God really does understand you. His sincere and passionate desire is for relationship with you. Don’t let others rob you of all that God has for you. Focus on Him. Your troubles may not disappear, but the inner peace you gain through Jesus will empower you through life’s distress.

PRAYER: Dear God. There are so many people telling me how I should feel. They tell me they understand, but they don’t. They aren’t even close. I thank and praise you for the truth that you do love me and understand me. You look on my heart and see my every emotion. You understand why I am the way I am. Guard me from losing the joy that I have in you. Protect me from those who want to rob me of my joy. Amen.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Charles Swindoll once wrote, “Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.” How we feel about ourselves and how we feel about God are the two main ingredients that determine if we will be happy with life or frustrated and living under the circumstances of our existence.

If we see God as being weak, apathetic or unconcerned about us, or if we see Him as being angry and vengeful towards us we will approach life in fear and hopelessness. If we see ourselves as worthless failures doomed because our past or present circumstances, life is full of despair and we don’t really believe God is who He says He is.

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans that we need to avoid thinking the way the world thinks. People around us measure everything by what is seen, what can be held and what they see as important. Tradition, religious dogmas and society rules can affect our drive to succeed. Some will tell us that a certain type of music is wrong, or that we need to eat certain foods or act certain ways or go to certain churches and be involved in this religious act or that religious act. But who we are has nothing to do with what we have done, do or want to do.

God created each of us with talents and abilities that are unique to us. God, through His Holy Spirit, wants to change your way of thinking. He wants to help each of us see our potential through His eyes and not the eyes of people. The customs, behaviors and practices of people without Christ will lead us to lives which are empty and wanting more. A life built on realizing we are God’s special creations leads us to lives that are content and fulfilled regardless of our social or financial position.

Be free to be you! Don’t let the world tell you how you should be or what you should think. Believe God to be who He says He is; the Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Loving God of the Universe.

As a Christ-follower, ask God change the way you think about yourself. Ask Him to let you see yourself as He sees you. Let His Spirit work through you so that the love of Jesus will be evident in your life to those around you.

You are a child of God! Don’t let the thoughts and actions of others keep you down. With the help of His Holy Spirit you can be empowered to change the world around you.  

PRAYER: Holy God, I confess to you that there are many areas of my life where I allow other people to control how I feel about You and how I feel about myself. They use my past, my present and their own ideas to keep me from living the full, joyful life you have for me. I am made in your image O God! I am your Child! Empower me with Your Spirit to show Jesus’ love to those around me. Amen.

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