No to the right things
What is the hardest thing for you to say no to? It is interesting that on our way to someone’s house on Saturday, my 5-year-old son randomly said that he did not believe in magic because he believed in God. He then went on to tell me that he tries not to sin, but sometimes he still does.
Saying no is an important part of life, isn’t it? We start off our lives telling our parents no to everything. We like to say no, until we get a little older and that pesky peer pressure things shows up. Now all of a sudden it is not so simple anymore. So many people want to say no, they know they should, but they feel like they can’t. How do we say no to all those things that seem to be so much fun? . Is it possible for anyone to say no to ungodly things and say yes to Godly things?
A while back, the NY Times had an article called “Your lying, cheating, stealing teens” where they randomly surveyed 26,000 teens. In their survey the said 83% said they had lied to their parents about something significant, 64% said they had cheated on a test, 42% said they had lied to save money, but 93% said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character. Then they found that 26% said they lied when answering this survey about lying.
When reading articles like that, it may be tempting to just accept that as the way it is. As Christian teenagers, as well as adults, we must live lives that honor God! Now what motivates us to do that?
In Titus 2: 11-14 we see two different appearings of Jesus. When we are able to keep them in view, we will be motivated to honor God.
Appearing # 1 – Grace
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,- – Titus 2:11-12
We hear a lot about the word Grace. But, what is Grace? Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor or kindness toward us that we do not deserve.
So, it is the grace of God that has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ that brought salvation to all men. We have been saved, rescued. But from what? We have been saved from sin and the consequences of sin. Sine separates us from God for eternity. It also saves us to a life of godliness.
It is grace that teaches us to say NO to ungodliness. Not only are we saved, but there is a response, a difference, a change that occurs in us, as grace teaches us to say NO. How on earth can grace teach us to say no to ungodliness, worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives?
When grace is received, it has an effect on those who receive it. A relationship with Jesus changes everything.
We need to keep the grace of God before us as a motivator to do what is right.
Appearing # 2 – Glory (Second Coming)
while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people who are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:13-14
We have our commands for the present, but we also look forward to the future. Having a future changes everything. If I have nothing to look forward to, no hope for a future, then who cares what I do today. As someone who knows Jesus Christ, we have a blessed hope in the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ has given himself for us to redeem us from wickedness. He has done this to cleanse us and make us his own people who are eager to do good. Do you see the word ‘eager’ in there? It does not say we are thinking, ”oh I guess I need to do good because that is a part of this Christian thing.” Having an eagerness to do good does not come naturally to us, but involves a change that happens in us as we give our life over to Jesus Christ.
Jesus wants to create a desire, an eagerness to do good in you. He wants to clean you up, keep you from wickedness and purify you. He even makes you His very own!
Keeping that eternal perspective, remembering there is a future and that one day Jesus will return, helps us to make godly choices.
While we wait for Jesus to return, right now, we are to live upright and godly lives. Does that describe you? Are you living completely for Him or are you holding something back? I fear that sometimes it looks like this, “Jesus, I love you and I want that salvation you have given, but what is the minimum amount I need to be in for?” That is not what Jesus had in mind when He died for you.
No matter where you are, there is no need to beat yourself up. That is what is so amazing about the grace of God, it is never-ending. It might be time to sit at His feet again and listen for what He would have for you.
No matter what, make it your mission today to, with God’s help, say no to the things you need to and yes to God!