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After more than thirty years of preaching and working with brethren I am convinced that far too many of us do not consider God in our hearts the way we should, or as often as we should. The lack of our consciousness of God is evident in what we allow ourselves to become from day to day. Do we ever stop to think about the attitudes that we allow to develop within our lives? I recently met a man who was a brother in Christ. I personally witnessed one of the last acts of his life. We had gone to visit him in the hospital. Right before my eyes he angrily rejected another brother in Christ, one who loved him dearly, with a spirit of bitterness and an unforgiving heart. The bitter old man never left the hospital. Within two weeks he was dead. He obviously didn’t give a thought as to how he would stand before God. As we go through life we need to be careful about how we allow our attitudes to develop and think about how we are going to stand before God.
Will you and I stand before God ignorant of His will? This is not a problem for most of us. We have been taught the scriptures and we study the Bible every week when we come together. For the most part we know how to worship, to cross every spiritual “t” and dot every religious “i”. Like the Jews of Christ’s day we know how to tithe the mint, the anise, and the cumin. But do we know how to be just, merciful, and trusting? God’s will is so much more than the mechanical aspects of our worship.
Will we stand before God without love? Do we really take thought for what God has done for us and does for us, or do we simply take those things for granted? Do we allow ourselves to respond to Him in love and adoration? How do we do this? It begins with an acknowledgment of our fallen state, our tendency toward sin, and our utter helplessness to save ourselves. God fixes what is broken in me. He binds up my spiritual wounds and makes me whole. He gives me hope when there was none. He loves us and blesses us richly every day. More than a feeling, our love for God is expressed in a practical and tangible way by loving His children.
Will we stand before God with a bitter heart? Have we fallen into the trap of blaming God for the vagaries of life? Do we forget that though God is in control He allows us to live with the consequences of sin in the world? We cannot forget that time and chance happen to all. It is the randomness of living in an imperfect world that should drive us closer to God in faith. This is why James tells us to count our trials and tribulations as joy. It is not just against God some have become bitter, it is also his children. Many times this is for no apparent reason. I have asked many who have harbored this attitude why they had become so bitter toward another. It is shocking how many times they cannot provide an answer or have given some petty little reason worthy of the schoolyard sandbox! Get over yourself.
Will we stand before God with an unforgiving spirit? This is right next door to bitterness. When we fail to forgive one another it benefits no one. No one! Least of all us. How much more plain can Jesus make it when he says in Matthew 6:15, if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us?
Will we stand before God without mercy? All of us need it. I sometimes do or say things that hurt my brother. Most often I do it in ignorance or with no malice intended. Unfortunately, sometimes Satan gets the better of me and I intentionally act in a hurtful way. I have always regretted it. Has this ever been the case with you? We all need mercy from time to time. We need others to be willing to love us regardless of our faults, and we need to be willing to forgive and have mercy on those who sometimes sin against us. Again, James tells us that judgment will be without mercy to the one who has not shown it. It is mercy that will save us from judgment.
Will we stand before God without generosity? It is easy for us to become so self absorbed that we forget about others. We become so concerned with our own needs that we fail to realize that there are things that God has blessed us with that we can share with others. We may have a skill or ability that can be used to help satisfy the needs of others. We may have time, companionship, a shoulder to cry on, or a sympathetic ear. We may have knowledge, wisdom, or understanding that can help another. We always default to “things” or money when we think of helping someone, yet God has blessed us with the stewardship of much more than “things.” God wants us all to generously share our lives with one another. I have noticed in many Christians as they become older that they somewhat withdraw from this stewardship. As long as we have the life God has given us we have something to share. Our goal should be to do good unto others until the day we die.
Will we stand before God as a murmurer? If I am not careful I can find myself sliding down this path. We have all been around that person who has developed a negative attitude. The glass is always half empty pessimism that sucks the joy out of any situation. When we start to think like this we become angry people. To allow ourselves to think this way is to demonstrate our ungratefulness to God for all of the wonderful things that He has done for us. Will we stand before God with an ungrateful heart?
Will we stand before God thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought? Most of the damaging attitudes that we can develop spring from our pride. They come from thinking of ourselves more than others as if we are the more important person. Paul tells us that when we think ourselves to be something, when in reality we are nothing, we deceive ourselves. My life in Christ must be about serving others. I must have faith that this is the best way to live life. I must trust God to know what He is doing. I must understand that when I am serving others I am, in fact, serving Him. Will we stand before God without faith/trust in Him?
Will we stand before God with our hearts buried in the ground? This, of course, is an allusion to the one talent man in Jesus’ parable of the talents. All of the things mentioned above ultimately have to do with love. Love for God and love for one another. This is the one talent that God has given to each and every one of us. If we bury our heart in the ground rather than share it with others, there is no way we will ever be able to stand before God.
How will you stand before God?