John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
So today, after the snowstorm of the century in Maryland (actually, it was only the 7th worst storm in the last 30 years), I decided to go to the grocery store. Safeway was not busy at all, so I got a space pretty close to the front. Since there weren’t a lot of cars, I was able to pull through the parking space and into the next space.
When I came out of the store, I rolled the cart to my car and started to put the groceries in the trunk. The space behind me was still open, and there were several other spaces throughout the parking lot that were actually closer to the store than the one behind me.
I just put the last bag in the car as it dropped and the groceries went all over the back of the trunk. I started to clean them up when a car started to pull into the spot. The woman blew her horn and proceeded to yell at me through her windows. I couldn’t understand what she said because all her windows were up, but she clearly was not happy at me.
I held up my index finger to say, “give me a minute” and continued to clean up the groceries in the trunk.
She blew her horn again and, as I looked at her, she threw up her arms in frustration and stared at me until I was finished.
I rolled the cart to the cart return area as she parked right behind me. As I walked back to my car I noticed a couple of Christian decals on her car.
When she got out of the car, I decided to ask her if she could tell me about the gospel message.
She gave me a nasty look and turned and walked away from me and into the store.
My mentor shared a sermon once as the church handed out bumper stickers to everyone that he didn’t want people to put the stickers on their cars if they were going to not act like a Christian as they drove places. This woman was clearly the subject matter of his sermon.
Now when I asked this woman to share the gospel message with me I clearly had a ulterior motive (I needed a topic this week for my blog!)
But the point, to me, is clear as crystal.
The world is watching us.
What would have happened if it wasn’t me, but someone who really needed to hear the gospel?
What if someone was contemplating the sermon they just heard and whether they need Jesus in their life and then they have this experience.
Now let me say that I don’t know what this woman was going through. She may have had a serious problem happen in her life that I don’t know about that she is struggling with that set her off.
But the world doesn’t know that, unfortunately.
The world just sees a supposed Christian woman acting very un-Christian like.
When that happens, we lose our testimony.
I know a lot of people who would say that this woman is not a Christian because of the way she acted. And she may not be.
But what if she really is?
As I said, she might just be having a very bad day that set her off.
But Satan isn’t trying to “unsave” the Christians.
Satan is trying to destroy our testimonies.
Satan knows that he can’t take us out of God’s hands. So he wants to bring doubt, confusion, anger, bitterness, sarcasm, and other demons into our lives to make sure that Christians can’t share their testimony.
That might have been the case today. This woman might have been having such a bad day and she was trying to handle everything on her own instead of relying on God. What that does is causes us to handle our issues incorrectly.
We lash out.
We say those four-letter words.
We hurt those we love.
We get our testimonies destroyed by the one who comes to kill and destroy.
So what is the answer? How do we ensure that Satan doesn’t kill our testimonies?
Well, even though Jesus, in the beatitudes, commands us to “be perfect,” you are not perfect. You won’t get it right all the time.
God has enough grace and mercy to love you and give you your testimony back.
The way to do that is to follow what is written in the Bible,
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
While I only chose James 4:7, the entire beginning of James 4 is pertinent to this post. James asks us what causes quarrels among us? It is our passion. It is our desire to put ourselves on the altar and not God.
But you might say to me, “Fred, I asked God for help and he never answered me.”
What does James say about this?
James 4:1-12 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
James pretty much pegged what that woman this morning was going through. Even though I don’t know the specifics, the fruit of her actions is evident. She didn’t submit to God. Even if she asked God for help, she ask wrongly.
And that is our problem as Christians.
We tend to think that God will do so much more for us that He already did.
Jesus already died on the cross. He did that so you could have an eternity with Him. But sometimes I believe we expect Him to fix every problem that comes our way. To replace the rainy seasons with rainbows, to take away our bad attitudes and idolatry and replace it with smiles and peace.
God is not a genie in a bottle.
We have accountability in this life. If we choose to humble ourselves, God will exalt us. If we choose to exalt ourselves, God will humble us.
Here is my challenge to you, Christian.
Over the next week, take everything you do and place God before it completely. Are you about get in your car and go to work? Pray and ask God to guide you. Are you about to go eat lunch? Pray and thank God for the provision. Are you about to come into a rainy season? Pray and ask God to give you clarity about how to get through it.
It may seem awkward at first. But eventually you will feel more and more comfortable with talking to God and you will learn how to talk to Him and how to listen to Him.