Doing The Right Thing Sometimes Means Wearing A Tie

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In the world today, doing the right thing can be hard.  Granted, the line between what is right and wrong is quickly graying in the minds of society on a daily basis. Yet, I still believe at our core we know what is truly right and truly wrong even if we lie to ourselves from time to time for our own selfish gain.

 

The reason I can say that’s true is because of what I see around Christmas. Without fail, every year people become more generous, more kind, and more selfless. People will give to charities, donate toys for underprivileged kids, volunteer at homeless shelters, and even set aside grudges to hang out with family they dislike.

What baffles me though is the goodwill we show in December doesn’t have to stop when the New Year’s ball drops.  In fact, those organizations we all serve and support don’t freeze in time until next year when they unthaw to let us back into their worlds again.  They keep going and could still use our help.  This is true with our fellow man as well.  Those around us still need our help and support even after the candy canes are off the light poles downtown.

Yet it always happens that when the credit card bills come rolling in or the stress of our job hits a fever pitch we curl back into a selfish fetal position and worry only about our needs. The human condition is innately focused on protecting the self.  It makes sense to be that way if you are in the middle of an alley surrounded by ninjas with throwing stars, but not so much when you’re simple lying about being sick so you don’t have to help a friend change their tire when it’s snowing outside.

Occasionally, I hear of stories where this selfish shell is bucked off and the true human spirit peaks through. This is one of those stories: a group of 5th grade boys did the right thing for their 6-year old friend Danny.

Jesus helps us to realize that when we are doing the right thing, helping one another, looking out for the good of not just ourselves we are actually interacting with God himself.  Jesus says these words in Matthew which contrast what happens or doesn’t happen when we are confronted with doing the right thing.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.-Matthew 25:40 (emphasis mine)

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.- Matthew 25:45 (emphasis mine)

Our responsibility as Christians is to be men and women of faith that look beyond our self to the needs of others.  We are to see our lives not as joy rides focused on emptying our bucket list of fun things, but as ambassadors for the least of these by how we love them.  Of course God wants us to live our life to the full and enjoy the families, resources, and experiences he brings across our paths, but he doesn’t want us to do those things in spite of loving our neighbor.

Don’t make it harder than it has to be!

  • Buy a single mom a meal at the restaurant
  • Shovel the driveway of your neighbors
  • Put some cash in an envelope for a friend that needs it
  • Sit by the tough coworker at lunch
  • Be honest about your expense report
  • Go back in the grocery store when you forget to pay for something
  • Apologize to your kids when you are wrong
  • Or any other number of no brainer “right” things to do.

Finding “the least of these” or the “right thing to do”  is not difficult if we open our eyes.  Heck, sometimes it’s as easy as putting on a tie and standing in the gap for friend.

So don’t wait for next year’s Christmas to do what God wants you to do today.  Just do it! 

 

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A Las Vegas Winter Coat

sweat-skin-1So there I was in Las Vegas wearing a full winter coat.

I had gloves in my jacket pockets and a stocking hat in my backpack.

Tucked away was an ice scraper and some hand warmers just in case.

Now one would think that wearing a snow coat in the middle of the desert would be at best not advised.  After all the average temperature in Las Vegas in the middle of December is still 65 degrees.  I mean wearing that amount of clothing in those temperatures makes about as much sense as the president of PETA being the keynote speaker at a hunting convention.  It just doesn’t end well.

But, what if I told you Las Vegas wasn’t my final destination.

See, I wasn’t in the middle of the Las Vegas strip doing push-ups, I was in the airport.  I was getting ready to connect to a flight to Chicago.  A city where the current temperature was literally colder than the North Pole at the time.  I had a car buried in snow and my family to get into it so that coat and thermals was crucial to me surviving and getting my family safely home.

Now think about this.  What if I had given in to the awkwardness of being in Vegas with my winter gear and planned for Vegas instead of Chicago?

What if I had planned on shorts, t-shirt, and maybe a sweatshirt at night for my time in Las Vegas?  After all, I would have fit right in when I was there, but I would have been in trouble when I got to my final destination.  Real.  Trouble.

As Christians I think we sometimes get tired of wearing our spiritual winter coats in this world.  It would seem that we are being held back to all that this world has to offer because of this Christian coat

  • Why can’t I sleep with whomever I want?  Oh, the coat.
  • Why can’t I spend my money however I want?  Oh yeah, the coat.
  • Why can’t I talk, think, and act however I please?  Of course, the COAT.

Why do I need to wear this stupid Christian coat all the time!?

The reason is that you aren’t dressing for this world but for the next.  This isn’t our final destination, but rather a stop until the eternity plane makes it’s final descent.

The writer of Hebrews says it this way, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” - Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

Peter would say, “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” - 1 Peter 2:11 (NLT)

The problem with shedding our spiritual coat for the fashionable clothing of the world is that we may create comfort in this life, but we have lost sight that this isn’t our final destination.  At some point our worldly Visa will expire and we will be forced to head to our home country.

Let me break away from my analogy and talk straight.

The life we live now as Christians is not for waste or a period of “waiting around” until we die.  It has purpose and meaning that should bring God glory.  However, this life is not the end either, but just the beginning of the life God has called us to.  We are aliens in this world in that we live contrary to the way the world says we ought to live.  In doing so we may feel strange, look strange, and act strange, but we are living not for the approval of here and now, but of the yet to come.  We are living for an audience of One who we will one day spend our eternity.

If we are able to keep that perspective then we will learn to be comfortable being out of fashion in this life so we are on the cutting edge in the next.   So bundle up and smile because the best is yet to come on the next leg of this flight.

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