Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace.
James 4:4-6 ESV
It is way too easy to get caught up in the expectations of the world. Your job, your school, your friends, family, and community… society expects a certain something from you, and it is your duty, I suppose, to perform. But first and foremost you must live for God, so where do you draw the line? How do you draw the line?
My husband and I lead worship at church every couple of weeks. My husband does all of the heavy lifting, so to speak. He chooses the songs, figures out which key will work best after hours and hours of run-throughs (by himself), decides instrumentation and song order, assigns parts, etc. Once he thinks he’s got it all figured out he runs it by me, and I rarely have any input other than, “sounds good,” because he’s put good work into it and I trust his judgment. We hardly ever, ever have time to practice together at home. With two kids demanding our attention, during the week we’re lucky to get an hour together in the evenings before one of us nods off on the couch; and since we live above and below neighbors in an apartment building, we have to be sound-sensitive at all hours, anyway. So, practice? Eh. Who needs it?
We’ve discussed how easy it would be to “just choose songs” or to repeat a set from a few weeks ago… or even to repeat someone else’s set. Hardly any thought would have to go into planning, then, except maybe a few key changes. Or, what if instead of choosing songs to lead, we sang every song that had been requested by members of the church? We’d have sets planned for a year’s worth of services if we did that! Talk about planning ahead! That would make everything so much easier. And everyone would be so happy — they’d all be so pleased!
As I said before, it is way too easy to get caught up in the expectations of the world. In some cases, particularly if you work in ministry, service may become a chore, a job, or even a show. You may start getting distracted by the work that needs to be done — the end game. You may start putting other people’s expectations and wants, and your desire to please them, before your desire to please God. After all, as long as you do well, God will be glorified, right? Wrong, Friends. Wrong.
As a wise, wise friend once said, “Jesus can be glorified in a mud puddle.”
We don’t have to get anything right. That doesn’t excuse us from trying to live and love like Jesus — please don’t misunderstand me — but it does excuse us from pursuing worldly perfection.
My husband and I could try hard to please the members of the church, and end up leading the worst morning worship service our church has ever experienced… but when we all step outside, birds are praising Him beautifully, and the trees’ branches are dancing for Him.
I could try hard to impress this creative community with another bible journaling page, and fall flat on my face with the most boring or messiest page, leaving me with feelings of unworthiness and shame… but when I lift my eyes and see another beautiful sunset with clouds placed just so, I’m reminded that even the sky glorifies Him and everything He made is perfect.
He gives more grace than we sin. Does that make sense? For all of our jealous, judgmental, envious, world-pleasing ways, there is even more grace. His grace isn’t only sufficient, it is more than enough. His grace covers a multitude of sins, and then some. How else can I say it?!
I want to leave you with this: GOD IS FOR YOU. If you need to say no, say no. If you need to say yes, say yes. But know that God comes first, and even if you don’t put Him first, He stands there, still. It’s just a matter of changing your perspective so you can see Him more clearly.
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