Compared to What?
We like to think of ourselves as good people. For the most part, we try hard to be that kind of good person. However, in our efforts to be good, we often have our sights set too low. In our attempt to be good people, we will often defend our goodness by comparing ourselves to someone else. We can admit that we have some problems, but when we compare ourselves to another who is worse than we are, we can feel okay about our goodness. We tell ourselves we are better than this person or that person so we muddle along in our state of goodness, satisfied with where we are.
A problem develops with this kind of comparison. We, humans, tend to let our goodness slip; we get worse. Left to our own devices, we lower the moral standard we use to guide our ethics. When we compare ourselves to others, we are comparing ourselves to someone who is getting worse in their moral condition. It is a vicious cycle that brings about moral decay. So, even though we may be “good” as we compare ourselves to the world around us, we are still slipping in our morality because we are comparing ourselves to others who are slipping.
Goodness comes from God. God defines it. When we spiral away from the goodness from God, we are spiraling away from God. When we take God out of the picture in our lives, we are also taking away His goodness, His moral standard. That leaves us to rely on ourselves for that standard, which is going down. When we compare ourselves to something substandard, then, in the end, no matter how good we appear to our fellow humans around us, we are still substandard. The danger is that, when we feel that when we are doing better than others around us, we quit trying to be better. We stop trying to reach up.
We are not the only society to fall victim to this endless spiral away from true goodness. God’s people in the Old Testament stand as examples to us, teaching us how this spiral away from God happens. Thankfully, God is also teaching us the cure for this line of thinking and way of living. He gives us THE WAY to get out of this cycle. It is a teaching that is brought over to us in the New Testament.
If we look at the book of Isaiah, we see the moral decay of the people as they turn from God and rely on their own sense of goodness. It keeps getting worse. In chapter six, God is going to call Isaiah to become His prophet to the people. I am convinced that God chose Isaiah for a couple of reasons: (1) God saw his heart and knew that Isaiah would do what was needed. (2) Isaiah was a good man when compared to his fellow countrymen. Isaiah was a man that probably strived to live by a moral standard that was higher than the world around him, but he had a problem. He was comparing himself to the others around him. God will call this “good” man to become His prophet. But first, God wants Isaiah to see the error of his ways. To show him this, God brings this man into His presence. Isaiah sees for himself the holiness of God. He sees the goodness of God, and in despair, he cries out, “Woe to me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5).
Isaiah was a man who had gotten comfortable in his moral ways, maybe even thinking that he was morally above others. However, Isaiah suffered from the same dangers that we do in our world today. He, nor his countrymen, were looking high enough. They were comparing their goodness with one another, with those who were failing at goodness. When Isaiah saw true, complete, perfect goodness, he realized how far away he was from what was right. He and his people were not as good as they thought they were because they were not reaching high enough.
Fast-forward to the time of the New Testament, and we are going to see the same kind of teaching. For us, we have been shown this goodness through God’s Son Jesus the Christ. He came to this imperfect world and showed us perfection. Paul will tell us that we are to have the mind of Christ. In Philippians 2:5, Paul writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Jesus came to this world to show us the goodness we are to try to reach - it is the goodness of Jesus. This is what Paul is talking about when he teaches us that we are to have the same mind as Jesus.
Paul will say in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul was doing his best to reach up to the moral standard of Jesus, and in doing so, he encourages others to follow him in that moral quest aimed at perfection. Paul, like us, failed to reach it on his own. He failed, and we will too. However, if we are trying to reach that perfection, the blood of Christ will continue to cleanse us. We can reach perfection with Jesus, and while that is possible only through His blood, God expects us to reach up to His goodness.
Peter will say this, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16). When we strive for holiness, Godly goodness, then Jesus will take up where we fail. However, reaching up to God is what we must be doing here in this life.
We cannot just compare ourselves to those around us. We must compare ourselves to God. When we do that, and we see how far we have to go in our goodness, we will see the difference, and, hopefully, we will never stop reaching upward.
Do we think of ourselves as good? We have to ask - compared to what, to whom? Reaching upward to God will make us as good as we can become. We must not fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others in the world. We must compare our lives to God. If do that, and we want to be right, we will always strive to reach up. The world needs to see us striving for that kind of goodness. Never stop reaching further for true goodness!
Here Am I
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
What an awesome story! There might be a lesson in here for us. It looks like Isaiah had his sin taken away, and then he was able to hear and understand what the Lord was saying. When we read the rest of the chapter, God needed someone to tell His people what He wanted them to hear.
When Isaiah understands what God wants, I see him getting excited and raising his hand yelling, “Here am I! Send me.” This is mission work. We think of missionaries as going to faraway countries to teach God’s Word. They do, and that is one part of it, but God is calling each of us to be missionaries.
He doesn’t need all of us to go thousands of miles away to spread His word. He is saying He needs His Word taught in all places, to all people. That includes the people in our neighborhood. Spreading God’s Word is even easier now. We can tell our friends about the sermons Lee is putting on Facebook. Sounds simple.
God is calling today just like He did with Isaiah. Have you heard Him? When you do, will you reply,” Here am I! Send me.”?
Paoli Church of Christ
Paoli Church of Christ | 219 Stucker Street, Paoli, IN, United States | 1-812-723-3366
Welcome to “Son Shine!”
Each week we want to highlight what’s going on here @ Paoli. What’s happening? Kids are enjoying Sunday morning Bible class; just ask them, “What is a parable”? Also, we are having an outstanding series of Wednesday night Bible lessons on Peter’s confession. There is something for everyone here at Paoli. Social media continues to offer some the opportunity to be a part of the worship service while remaining at home. Be sure and let them know they are missed and offer assistance as needed. Wednesday night’s lesson was viewed by 105 individuals - yes, what we are doing is important, and, yes, we are making a difference. Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a couple of our members on a home project. Sure was good to be able to spend time with other Christians. Time together is important, just hang around after Sunday morning worship and see for yourself. What we have taken for granted for so long is now a precious commodity. The early church saw it and benefited from it, and so can we.
Our weekly Bible question is taken from the Wednesday night online class. “What did Peter teach me in Wednesday night’s lesson?”
Please don’t forget “Members In Need.” This program was set up that we might better care for our own members. So, when you know of a need of one of our members, please contact Lee who is our contact person for the time being. When you have something to share with the congregation, please let me know. You may email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call or text @ 1/812/653/3139. REMEMBER… KEEP PRAYING, KEEP WORKING, AND KEEP LOOKING UPWARD. It will all be worth it one day.
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Let the Son Shine In
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