“Not all people who sound religious are really godly.”
Matthew 7:21a NLT
You know how you might’ve heard something a thousand times but it never really stuck? Then one day somebody puts that same something in a really attractive font and slaps it onto a picture of someone standing at the top of a mountain… and all of a sudden it changes your life.
I’m not even saying that with sarcasm – sometimes all it takes is a different voice, a different perspective or a different arranging of the same words! Or maybe we have to be desperate enough before we actually LISTEN to the truth we’ve “heard” over and over again.
That happened to me this week while reading Matthew. I’ve been taught the Gospel account my whole life but for some reason, it’s really reading fresh and new. This week Jesus was talking about building a firm foundation in your life. He said that the first essential step in building a firm foundation is this:
“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as “Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21 NLT)
Maybe you’ve heard this one a thousand times, too. Maybe that verbiage doesn’t quite hit home in our culture’s style of communication today. But, if for whatever reason that didn’t hit home, here’s how the study notes explain it:
What you do cannot be separated from what you believe.
What I do cannot be separated from what I believe. It isn’t my actions that dictate my future, but the sure do say a lot about my present. My choices don’t get me into heaven, but they sure do paint a pretty clear picture of what I believe. What percent of my actions every day support what I SAY I believe? What about when it’s just me, myself and I – do my actions still fall in line with the Kingdom of God? And how often do I take the time to honestly assess these things?
- I believe that I’m loved unconditionally by God and belong wholly to him – do I live each day with my head held high and my heart full of joy?
- I believe that God has forgiven (and will continue to forgive) every single whoops/dang-it/seriously?! that I’ve done – do I offer that same limitless forgiveness to others?
- I believe that Jesus, whose birth we celebrate every December 25th, is the Savior of all – do I make the whole other 364 days of the year a continual celebration?
If I truly want resiliency in my life – the kind that keeps me standing firm through every type of storm – I can’t leave these questions unanswered.
Dear Lord, there are some serious gaps between what I tell YOU I believe and what I do in my life. I want to change that. I want to close those gaps and I can’t do it without your help. Please help me remember to pause before I act and consider what belief that actions is coming from. Give me courage and strength to be honest and change the things that need changing. Amen.