Who do you admire? Is there someone whose life inspires you with hope, that causes you to desire God more? The late Billy Graham is one of my heroes, a man who was completely given to the work of the Lord, who lived to make Christ known. He found that sweet spot in God’s will where excellence met devotion, where accomplishment was matched with humility, where his flaws were eclipsed by God’s grace.
Only eternity will reveal what that farm boy from North Carolina did for the Kingdom of Heaven. It was my privilege to be in small groups of pastors on two occasions where he came and shared his time with us. Unlike some important people I have met, Graham was not impressed with himself. He knew himself to be a representative of Another!
Do you aspire to excellence and achievement?
Jesus says “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:15-16, NLT) Pause and re-read those lines. Christ in you, in me, will create a quality of life that others simply cannot ignore. The question is, will you allow the Spirit to do that work in you?
Some will rush on to the next chapter in Matthew, using Jesus’ warnings about public displays of giving, praying, and fasting as a reason to settle for mediocrity, to hide out in obscurity. Yes, He did say “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1, NLT) Do not mis-read those words. He is not saying that we should be hidden, unnoticed because our lives lack a distinction that comes from devotion. Our ‘good deeds’ are not to be for the purpose of gaining admiration for ourselves, they are to be a reflection of Christ and the Spirit at work in us!
What makes the difference?
It is all about the MOTIVE. If we are aiming at having others look at us and say, “Wow, what a good guy!” Jesus says, “Go ahead and enjoy the applause. That is your full reward.” If we want the beauty of Jesus to shine through us, God can take our efforts and use them in ways beyond our imagining to show off His goodness to those who walk alongside of us in life.
That is why we need to match our pray for Christ’s beauty in us with David’s humble prayer – “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (Psalm 139:23-24, The Message)
There is a beauty in holiness that is often lost to modern Christians who confuse holiness with religious rule-keeping, with petty obsessions over superficial things. In fact, a life that is truly devoted to God (the definition of holiness) develops a beauty that comes from wholeness, from love, from joy, that captures the attention of others. Let’s pray for His beauty to be seen in us!
Jesus took the words of preacher Isaiah as the description of His mission. As you read what He announced in that synagogue in Capernaum, let the truth of His desire for you captivate your heart. He wants to heal the dysfunction of sin and make us whole. He desires to enter our sorrow and make us joyful. Why? Well, read for yourself.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
(Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)
All that so that others will take note of who He is, what He does, and say – “Oh, what a wonderful Lord.” That, disciple, is the ‘wow’ factor that we should aim for in life – to be one in whom His splendor is fully seen.
Let the beauty of Jesus
be seen in me,
All His wonderful
passion and purity;
O my Savior divine,
All my being refine,
‘Till the beauty of Jesus
be seen in me.
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