As I get older, I am increasingly aware of the impact my beliefs, decisions, habits, and character have on my life and those around me, especially my husband and children. The celebration of various historical figures throughout Black History Month has caused me to ask what history would say about me individually and about us as believers.
We should aim to not waste our lives but to be representatives of God’s love, justice, and his intellectual, creative genius as much as he has equipped us (Matt. 25:14-30). While this list is not exhaustive, here are three things I hope to be true of my life and of yours. Think of more and add to the list.
We Humbly and Thoroughly Engage and Believe the Bible
The Bible is a strange book. It is filled with the accounts of broken people and a plethora of seriously disturbing content. We find stories of rape, incest, war, slavery, genocide, idol worship, child sacrifice, famine, murder, manipulation, the hopeless, the wicked, the coward, the liar, the prideful…shall I go on?
We also find instruction, wisdom, and a non-circumstantial hope that unfolds in the revelation of the character of the just, powerful, creative and compassionate God and his Son, his reflection, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:15-20).
If there is one thing I have realized in years of amassing questions about God is that he is not afraid of our unbelief and bad behavior. He may be grieved but not afraid. God is also not repulsed by our hard questions. In fact, God may just ask you some hard questions of his own (Job 40:1 – 42:6) and stump you with his own unpredictable answers (Isa. 55:8-9).
If we truly believe that “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16),” then we should feel free to genuinely engage with the text as it is without trying to explain it away.
We Loved Others and Pursued Justice
In a scholarship essay back in 2012, I took a risk by opening with this:
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Pro. 31:8-9).
These words continue to haunt me to this day. I look back and question if I have kept this word. Psalm 97:2b says that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne so it’s safe to assume that God’s actions and rule are built on justice and right living. Are we purposefully initiating and actively pursuing these things?
I look back and I see huge gaps between what I dreamed when I wrote that essay and what I have done since. There is always more that can be done. Thankfully, we have a Savior that sympathizes with our weaknesses and shortcomings (Heb. 4:15) and provides new mercies to reflect his sacrifice daily, to our own families, people around us, and the initiatives we become involved in.
My prayer is that as God opens opportunities and gives us the desires to initiate new ones, that true worth would be defined by a heart of service (Matt. 20:26-27) instead of a desire for recognition (Matt. 6:2-4).
We Are Resourceful and Financially Wise for the Purpose of Sharing
The last thing I want to hear from God is that my family was like the rich fool laying up treasure for ourselves (Luke 12:13-21). We should want to steward our resources for his glory – with a thankful heart of contentment, seeking to love our neighbor through practically fulfilling their needs (Matt. 25:31-46).
In recent years, my family has taken financial and resource planning more seriously. Too many times, our material desires, fear of missing out, desire for reputation, guilt-trips, and cultural pressures have manipulated us into parting with the precious resources that we are accountable to God for without much thought. The same instructions that Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 for giving – supplying each other’s needs out of love and fairness, preparing a gift in advance, willingly and not out of compulsion – can be applied to spending as well.
Even more, these instructions make a case for purposefully saving or reducing debt in order to share what you have when a need arises. I want my children and others to know that we are intentional about how and why we save, give, spend, not only with finances but also our physical bodies in order to fill the needs of others. I want them to understand that we can enjoy what we are given while remembering that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Let us be actively aware of the history we create each day. Let us make sure that as believers, by God’s grace, we strive to reflect the God who entered into a disastrous, sin-filled history to rescue us to a redeemed, glorified future with him, in which he makes all things new (Rom. 8:17-18, Rev. 21:1-7).