The longer we live, or the more we are surrounded by death, the more time-sensitive we get. We become acutely aware of the ticking down of our biological clock and consider what we have not yet done. We begin to understand that our time is a precious commodity that should not be wasted in doing things that don’t really matter, and that living for our own temporary pleasure is a shallow existence. The world measures a successful life by the things we have accumulated, by the power we have managed to gain, and by the degree of recognition we receive from others. But these things are temporary feel-goods that leave us empty once they’ve outlived their usefulness. So if we have managed to be successful in every area of life, according to the world’s standards, but have not done the one thing that God asks us to do while we are here, then we have failed miserably.
Our number one priority is to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God. This starts with accepting His gift of salvation. John 3 teaches that spiritual new birth comes from God when we are willing to yield to His will. We are here to choose whom we will follow in this life and into the next. When our time on earth is over and we find ourselves face to face with God, we will have to answer this one question: ‘Did you choose to believe in who Jesus is and in what He did for you? Our choice in this matter is the true measure of our success, because it determines where we will spend our eternal life.
Some people draw away from God because they consider what they’ve done, and because they can’t forgive themselves assume that God won’t forgive them either. That is not true. Regardless of what we have done wrong God forgives us of everything; as long as our sorrow for doing those things leads to repentance. Repentance is not simply saying I’m sorry. It is a heart change that produces a change in behavior; it is turning away from what is wrong and steadfastly going toward what is right (according to God). Billy Graham puts it this way…“Biblical repentance is the fuel which is used to propel our life with God at the controls. Until we utilize that fuel, we are earthbound, tied down by our ego, our pride, our troubles and guilt. Young people are often chained in a prison of purposelessness, uncertainty, and even guilt. Many an older person faces old age and death with dread and fear. True repentance can release those chains.”
The new spiritual birth that the bible talks about starts with recognizing our own sinful nature and realizing that without divine intervention we are personally doomed. The book of Romans 2:13 tells us “If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely.” Believing in Christ is a commitment to surrender our will over to him, and not be ashamed to tell others about our newfound life. The bible teaches that a person who is born-again has a changed will, changed affections, changed objectives for living, changed disposition and new purpose. He receives a new nature and a new heart. He becomes a new creation. Paul says in Romans 6:13 that it is being “alive from the dead.”
Some people are deceived into thinking that saying they believe in God and in Jesus is enough to be saved; but we can’t continue to live like the devil and think we will be accepted into heaven when we die. It’s important for a person to know that…’merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.” I think that most Christians want to do what pleases God; but oftentimes we are more concerned about offending people. So we keep our mouths shut and watch the people we care about stray further and further away from God, hoping they will see for themselves that they are off track. We look on as they pound nails into their proverbial coffin; because we are afraid of losing their companionship, their friendship or their love. But, we often fail to consider the consequences of our silence. What if today is the last chance we have to warn someone that their lifestyle is not acceptable to God? If we really love them we wouldn’t let them destroy themselves.
True love is not permissive; it sets boundaries so that the people we care about won’t come to harm.