One morning this week, as I was running a work errand, I happened to hear the birds chirping. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised, as I took one look around at the greenery bathed in pure whiteness; clear evidence of the winter season. I wondered whether it was the “right” season for them to be singing. Either the birds were performing their rites for the spring, were calling for a mate, or were simply expressing their joy, as happy, carefree birds tend to do. Still, it seemed a bit peculiar for such a cheery sound to be ringing through my ears, at a time of such dreary frost. I thought it might be best that they wait until the summer, a season of warmth and sunshine, to sing their little song. At that moment, I quickly realized the lesson God was trying to teach me.
For the past few weeks, I had cherished a spirit of complaint, about my current situation. All I could do was drudge along day after day, and look forward to the time when my situation would change. That day, God had spoken to me through His creation. The birds had clearly illustrated to me, that we should not have to wait for a change of season to have a reason to be happy. In every season, no matter how bleak, we should always have a song in our hearts.
The apostle Paul knew this all too well: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Paul also encourages us to be joyful, no matter what the circumstance: ”Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)
At times, we tend to think that we have no choice, when it comes to the current situation we are in. While we may not always be able to change our situation, we do have a choice about the spirit that we are in, when facing any given trial or test. No matter how testing the trial, it is up to me to decide how I will respond. I can choose to be gloomy and sad, angry or bitter, or I can choose to be joyful. That choice is always up to me.
A week ago, I was at a social gathering, and I ended up feeling a bit uncomfortable, due to feelings of pride, jealousy and insecurities that were welling up inside of me, and also because I had felt excluded, and somewhat like an oddball. These things greatly distressed me. Because of this, for the rest of the night, I was stony silent. God revealed to me that I distance myself often, when I am displeased. It is saddening to see such negative emotions in myself, but He is working on me step-by-step. Yet, every day as I continue to see how it affects others, and myself, it doesn’t get any easier.
Despite our shortcomings, I am so glad that Christ still loves us. He is working on each one of us, moulding and shaping us into the people He would have us become. He wants to transform us all into a beautiful masterpiece.
One thing I love about Christ’s example is His response in difficult times. When Christ was in the heat of the moment, as he stood in the judgment hall of Pilate, He was interrogated, spat on, and physically beaten for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Despite all of the suffering He endured, He said nothing. He uttered not one word in his defense, nor did He speak one word of hate against His accusers. Nothing! You know what else is amazing? He said nothing, because He had no hateful words in his heart. Not one.
This is completely unlike our human nature, and Christ knew this: In Matthew 12:34, Jesus speaks these words to the Pharisees: ”…how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
And in Matthew 5, Christ taught His followers, that before any wrongful action is carried out, the malicious desire first exists within the heart: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you,that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (verses 21 and 22). The dark thoughts that lurk within the innermost recesses of our mind, is what we need to ask God to get rid of. We must ask God to change us, cleanse us, and renew a right spirit within.
We live in a politically correct society. We know that it is not “polite” or “civil” to say certain things, so we don’t say it. If we don’t like someone, we may not necessarily say it, but we will have no problem thinking about it and allowing this hate to fester in our hearts.
Remember Christ was able to say nothing, because He had absolutely no hate in His heart for His persecutors! This is why, as He died on the cross for our sins, He was able to say: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
This is the spirit that Christ wants to, and has promised to implant in us. And it is the very spirit of love that we will need, if we will be able to stand in the last days, especially at a time when love for humankind, will grow cold. (2 Timothy 3:1- 5, Matthew 24:12, 13). Those that will endure to the very end will be those who know how to love, and only Christ can teach us that.
Naturally, we will not want to love one another, not even our own friends. Love is not natural for a human being. You may try to deny this fact, but it is true. The condition of the human heart is not one that is prone to love. We “love” people that are kind to us, or those who are rich and popular, and whose friendship will end up benefiting us in some way. This is why lessons from Christ on love were especially hard truths for His disciples (Matthew 5: 43-47, Luke 10:30-37, Matthew 25:34-40)
Because we knew nothing about how to love, Christ had to come down to earth to show us what true love looks like. He is the One who is love, and can easily show us how to love. My problem is that I try to love on our own and realize that it is pointless. We must ask God to intervene in our lives, and give us a repentant and contrite heart, so that when we mess up (which we inevitably will), we will admit our wrongs, and not try to hide them. This is a tricky one for me, because I suffer from a great load of pride and do not like to admit my faults and be subject to correction. However, God needs us to humble ourselves and surrender self completely to Him, in order to be able to work His wonders. We need to surrender the tendency to want to protect our reputation or our self-image. And we need to take more risks in our relationships, without fear of getting hurt.
I know a lot of us don’t like to be vulnerable. I personally don’t. It is definitely uncomfortable. But one thing I know for certain is that God in His mercy, will forgive us when we confess our faults and by His grace, will transform us into His divine image. It will take time, lots of prayer, and faith on your part, to believe that God will change you the way He said He would. Be patient with yourself and with others, while undergoing the process. Next thing you know, you will not even be able to recognize yourself, because the old will have vanished, and in its place will be a new creation.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Never miss a story.
Sign up and get monthly updates of our latest features.When you do, you'll receive our FREE e-book with a story-gathering checklist.