|This is what it looks like when I eat a box of chocolates....|
I've been thinking quite a bit lately about my behavior and its impact on others...
This week I came across Acts 16; in it, Paul and Silas are thrown in jail for casting out demons in a girl who brought a few Romans some money. Once the demons were gone, her owners no longer profited--so they jailed Paul and Silas. Now, these men could've reacted out of anger at the injustice served them, but they didn't. Verse 25 says they prayed and sang despite probably feeling frustrated and angry. Their demeanor did not match the situation...and this would be noticed. In fact, God rewarded the men's faithfulness, and He sent an earthquake to break open the prison freeing them to escape. Paul and Silas could've seized this opportunity to run and seek the freedom they deserved...but they didn't. They stayed, and this action would not be overlooked. I'm not sure how much time passed from when Paul and Silas realized they were free and when the jailer woke up and noticed his prisoners were no longer in chains; nonetheless, the jailer realized he'd be in deep shit if his prisoners were gone, and he assumed they were--so he took out his sword to kill himself. Fortunately, Paul and Silas saw this and stopped the jailer. And 'ya know what the jailer's first response was? It was a question: "'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'" He wanted what Paul and Silas had--Jesus. What strikes me about this story is the impact of Paul and Silas's behavior.
Our actions will not be ignored.
If I'm being honest, this realization is a bit scary for me. I believe that God sent his only son to die on the cross for me. I've realized my need for a savior; I've confessed my sins and accepted the freedom in God's forgiveness. But does my behavior indicate this? What message am I telling others with my behavior? What story am I telling my children (beyond my total lack of self-control with sugar) with the choices I make?
I have a lot of work to do in making sure my behaviors reflect Jesus in order to have the best impact on others. I'm quick to cast judgement; I hold onto bitterness; and sometimes I care too much about being in this world. I will never be perfect, so I'm thankful that I'm offered grace daily. But I realize that I have some serious work to do in getting my heart right. For me, this first means being in a more consistent habit of studying my Bible in order to replace cultural values that I've stored in my heart with God's values. So this week, let's try to be more like Paul and Silas in Acts 16--let's choose to remain rational in difficult situations (like when your kids want you to share the candy). Let's choose to stick around in difficult times rather than running away. Let's pay more attention this week how to how our behavior impacts others.