Standards! – 7/6/18

Standards!

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)

Note from Kip…
When I was young, hanging out at my families service station, which had become a community gathering place; I would hear morsels of wisdom from the older gentlemen that passed time there on occasion. A lot of those words stuck with me and have helped to form the person I am today.

A lot can be said for the wisdom found in farming communities such as ours in those days. A lot that should never be forgotten. One of those we should look at closely today.

One of those old fellas used to say fairly frequently something on the order of, “If you set your target low enough you’re bound to hit it.” At first I thought he was giving advice for target practice. As I grew, I came to understand that what he was really saying was, if we don’t strive for something that is beyond our capabilities we will never exceed the level we are today.

That sure doesn’t sound like what came out of his mouth, but it’s so true.

If we are ever to grow we must set a standard by which we will gauge our progress. Setting that standard as something that we can comfortably attain doesn’t assist us in exceeding our present position. As a matter of fact, doing so will likely result in regression from our current state.

Paul realized this very thing here in the fifth chapter of Ephesians.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)

What he’s talking about is setting our standard up as Jesus. Doing so, we are forced to strive to excel beyond our current state and reach for points we never would have dreamed possible.

In doing so, we don’t project who we are as much as we project that which we have made our standard.  If it is Christ Jesus, then we are more loving, we are more caring. Yet at the same time we are less tolerant of sin for what sin is, an offense to God. We are able to see past the sin and to the sinner with love and compassion. Seeking the best in others and ourselves.

A standard beyond our reach, but one that changes us.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48 (HCSB)

Woah!!! Lord!!! You want me to be perfect? I can’t get there from here!

Jesus knows this. He is setting our standard. We will one day be perfect if we are faithful to Him, but for now, there is a standard and that standard is Christ Jesus. There is coming a time when we will shed these flawed bodies corrupted by sin and be awarded new perfect bodies. Until that time, Christ wants us to strive.

Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14 (HCSB)

Reaching forward! I have not been able to grasp that which is my standard, but I am striving to do so with every bit of energy I can bring to the surface. Forgetting that which was for me back there in my past and pursuing the ultimate goal, the prize; our heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.

One of my favorite Christian Contemporary groups is Casting Crowns. They have a popular song called simply Thrive.  The song depicts our struggles and difficulties in this life. But how we as Christs Church are meant for so much more than wallowing in mire that is the culture of the world. We were meant to thrive.

And I quickly realize that striving and thriving are two sides of the same coin for us. If we don’t strive, we can never thrive. It is through that pressing onward that we grow and see a transformation in who we were to who God calls us to be.

Lord, how can this be?
I’m inept!
Flawed!
Prone to failure.
How can I, be like you?

And he has an answer for us!

keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

Hebrews 12:2 (HCSB)

Keeping our eyes on Jesus. Our standard. Our Goal. That is how we do this. Just as Paul says, none the less I’m going to keep my eyes on the prize and strive. With Christs power in us and His Holy Spirit guiding and teaching us, that standard and this struggle will see to our freedom in Christ Jesus as we truly thrive!

Blessings,
kip…

 

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