The world

My son and I were talking last night about society’s influence on us as Christians.

Sometimes it is a good influence, especially when we see needs around us and the love of Christ drives us to help.  My wife and I had an interesting conversation with some visiting friends from Halifax last week who talked about volunteering among the poor in their city.

But often the influence is negative.  I accept things as normal today that were unheard of when I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s.  Divorce, for example.  A few years ago, I read that the divorce rate among evangelical Christians in the United States is as high as it is among Americans as a whole.

How do we deal with the pressures of society around us?

We can try harder.  The Bible does give us good guidelines on holy living.  Most of us know what to do.

For some people, that may be enough.  It isn’t for me.

The world’s attractions capture my attention and desires.  As I have said before, self-denial is not a strong point with me.

Certainly, I know I need to follow the guidelines of scripture.  Some are easier for me to follow than others.

But, above all,  I think it is my attitude of mind and heart that needs to change.

I was listening this morning to a preacher who was talking about giving thanks every day.  The audio link is:

http://media.whchurch.org/2009/2009-11-29_Polk_Everyday-Is-A-Day-Of-Thanksgiving_64kbps.mp3 .

The preacher, Dwayne Polk, said that he even began thanking God in the midst of a tense discussion with his wife in which she was criticizing him on some financial issues.  While ready to fight, he began inwardly praising God for his wife’s qualities and his attitude changed.

Evidently, Dwayne Polk practices praise and thanksgiving as a regular part of his life.  He praises God as creator and as redeemer and he thanks the Lord for the people around him – even his enemies.

As he said, it takes practice.  But it works.

The best example I know is the apostle Paul.  His letters are full of praise and thanksgiving to God.  And he led a life of constant trouble and persecution.

In Ephesians 5, he tells us that we should not indulge in sexual immorality or greed, “but rather thanksgiving” (verses 3 and 4).  Then, he goes on to say in verse 19 that we should sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.”

Paul is saying we should offer thanks to God constantly.  In any situation, we can thank God even though we are going through pain and temptation.

When we have that mind, God can work in us.  God will strengthen us and help us resist the bad influences of the world.  Indeed, God may use us to influence others for good.

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1 comment so far

  1. Stephanie Douglas on

    We’re memorizing Galatians 5:22-23 during Advent (sloowwwwly), and we were talking about what joy means. We were discussing how joy is different than happiness – I said that fruit-of-the-Spirit-joy is when you can feel glad even when things are hard. In thinking over that conversation this evening, I realized that the practice of thanksgiving was key to opening ourselves to God’s joy.

    Then I read your blog entry, and heard those same thoughts reiterated in a different way. Serendipitous!


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