Recently I wrote something called A Letter to Christian Young Men. I was rather startled by the response it received, and I still am thankful that God seems to have worked through it. However, I’ve noticed something since I wrote it. I’ve found that I have been tested on every point that I mentioned in the letter. And my conscience has been saying to me: “Are you going to live what you preach? What are you going to do about it?”
I would like to tell you that I’ve lived up to my ideals flawlessly and acted as a bastian of chivalry, but that would be a lie. I will tell you, I’ve had my share of short-comings these days. I’m not going to lie, being a man of God is impossible without the Holy Spirit’s help. I’ve definitely been learning that these days. But if nothing else, I have been growing, and learning to live out what I’ve been preaching.
God has been changing my mindset for the better these days. I seemed to think that I could write something to get guys to try to be men of God and then just go back to how I was living before and not try any harder myself. Well, He’s definitely corrected me on that. It seems after I wrote that letter I’ve faced a good deal of trials of various kinds. I’ve had to learn to accept correction when I’m rebuked, take responsibility when I mess up, and not play along when I’m flirted with.
Today I faced the last one and it was incredibly awkward. A girl in one of my classes started playing footsie with me, and it freaked me out. Of course there came the thoughts which told me that I should just have a little fun, because I’ve never experienced it before, and attractive girls are rarely interested in me, and that no one else has to know about it. But I didn’t respond. The reason is that with each thought of that nature came the prodding of the Holy Spirit in response. He reminded me that even ‘little’ things like that are not honouring to Him, or to the woman I will one day marry. I was reminded yet again that convictions are useless if they are not stood upon.
I’m not writing this post to win brownie points, or show how cool it was that I ‘overcame temptation’ or any of that. I’m writing this to show what God did in my heart today. In that little insignificant moment, He showed me that I need to stand on what I say I stand for. He taught me about integrity. I think it is in little moments like those that God most shapes us to be the men and women He wants us to be. The little things that we won’t spend much time thinking about one way or the other have a greater impact than we realize. We tend to overlook the ordinary things we face because we focus on the extraordinary. Yet it is those every day happenings that effect our character.
One thing God has put on my heart a lot these last few months is the verse Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It sounds strange, but martyrdom has been one of my dreams for years. I’ve often thought about how cool it would be to get to die for Christ. It just seems like the best way to go. But one day I had to say to myself: “That’s great that you’re willing to die for Christ. But are you willing to live for Him too?” What I mean is this: if we do not live for Christ in ordinary circumstances we will not be able to live (or die) for Him in extraordinary circumstances.
Christ demands all of our lives, not just a dramatic death scene at the end of it, or Sunday mornings, or an hour a day, or whatever. He purchased us at highest price and therefore has a right to every aspect of our lives. He deserves to be honoured in the ‘insignificant’ moments. I’ve learned that if I do not live with integrity in those moments when no one is watching it will be meaningless when I live with integrity when everyone is watching. It is the moments when I’m faced with an attractive girl, or a chance to show off, or a chance to shirk responsibility, or whatever the case may be, when my character is being shaped.
My challenge to all of you is this: so you have convictions, you know what is right and what is wrong; what are you going to do about it? How are you going to let God shape your character this week? I know I fail to live up to my convictions constantly, and I don’t expect anything different from you, but when we fall we need to just get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep pressing on.