Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Better Way

by Jill Jackson

In the previous articles, we discussed the trials of those who grew up in “Christ-less Christian homes.” We noted that the first step to walking down the “road of a better way” is to acquire a balanced view of sin. But how does one walk miles, not just a few steps, from those trials and baggage on that road? 

The past is over, the future is yet to be, and what you choose to do in the present will largely determine what life has in store for you. Will you choose to hold onto your baggage? Will you allow the past to burden you? Will you continue to be the victim suffering in silence, allowing your perception to be molded by your experience? Or will you choose God’s plan for the family as found in the Scriptures? Will you choose to allow your start in life to turn you away from God, or will you draw near to God as the sustainer of your life? Will you continue to go through life pointing the finger of blame at your parents, neglecting to see the accountability you have for your choices today? Will you hold onto resentment like a cherished friend, despite the destruction she brings to your life?

The time has come to let go of the hurt, anger and the desire for justice and validation. Now is the time to leave the wounds from your parents behind. Now is the time to quit trying to prove to them, or others, that what they did was wrong. Now is the time to worry about yourself and leave the concerns of the past in God’s hands. Concern yourself with the people your choices will impact in life (i.e. your own family).

Recognizing the choices we make affect ourselves, and those around us, is a principle Joshua tried to get the Israelites to see. He urged them to fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness. His desire was for them to be loyal to God alone and to turn from the false gods they had worshipped. He asked them to make a choice, to decide whom they will serve: the one true God, or the false gods they had been influenced to worship by previous generations; or those they had come to know in Canaan. He goes on to declare that he, and those within his house, would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Today, like the Israelites, you have a choice. Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness by the instructions found in his word, or allow previous generations (or the world) to be your guiding influence in life. You have an opportunity to give your family the things you wish you had: positive role models, spiritual guidance, the ideal Christian home. You can choose to serve God, and spare those who depend on you from the heartache you experienced, by following the plan of action found in Colossians chapter three.

Choose to serve the Lord by setting “your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Recognize this world is not our home. There is a better home we can claim as our own, if we will live according to God’s commands. There’s more to life than the physical dwelling we are now experiencing. There’s something to be gained that will make all the suffering and perseverance worth it. Focus on what awaits you.

Choose to serve the Lord by putting to death what is earthly in you (Colossians 3:5-10). When Christ was put on in baptism, a declaration was made that we recognized our lost state and desired our sins to be washed away. When we were lifted up from that watery grave, we made a commitment to put our sins to death—to begin a new life in which our aim was to live for Christ and conquer the sins that plague us. This conquering process requires an understanding of our vulnerability to temptation, a watchfulness for pitfalls, and prayers for God’s help (Matthew 26:41). Christians are called to be different from those in the world; but if there is no proactive effort to put to death what is earthly within, how will we stand out as ones who have put on Christ?

Choose to serve the Lord by putting on the virtues of Christ (Colossians 3:12-15). The Christian life is not just about conquering sin—it’s about becoming more like Christ! There’s no Christian who can be pleasing to God while failing to manifest the name of Christ in her life. Christ provided the perfect example of one who was full of virtues we need to emulate. He was full of compassion. He was kind, humble, meek, and patient. He was forgiving, loving, and peaceful. When dealing with relationships (especially troubled ones), how much improvement could be seen if we showed more compassion, kindness and forgiveness? How many burdens could be lifted if we seek peace in our relationships? How much easier it could be to implement these virtues if our attitude is more humble than haughty? Put on the virtues of Christ.

Choose to serve the Lord by letting the word dwell in you (Colossians 3:16). One can’t expect to create a better home if the crucial ingredient—God’s word—isn’t permeating the heart. Within the Bible are the directions for a happy life. Will it be problem free? No. Will it always be easy to serve God? No. But consistent study of the Bible will equip us with an understanding of right and wrong. Encouragement comes from reading the struggles others endured for the sake of Christ. Because our hearts and minds are filled with hope for our heavenly home, we are motivated to press on.

Choose to serve the Lord by giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:17). Certainly, some weren’t given the start in life they deserved. Hardships can result from the choices of others. But one must move from a constant focus of what was wrong with her childhood home, to what’s right in her life, if she ever hopes to continue to walk down the road to a better life. Thank God for the ways he has provided for you—for the good role models in your life, for the people who have showed you kindness and generosity, for the job he has blessed you with, for the family he has given you, and for the opportunity you have to give your children something you did not have.

Put your baggage down. Understand you don’t have to be burdened with it from this point on. Choose to step on the road to a better way by acquiring a balanced view of sin—recognizing you are imperfect and in need of God’s forgiveness, that you must forgive to be forgiven, that your parents’ sins do not give you the right to sin, and that sin always separates one from God. With that perspective in place, begin walking that road to a better life. Choose to make God’s ways your priority. Serve him in word and deed. Focus on the eternal. Be driven to put to death the sins you struggle with. Strive to become more like Christ. Be proactive in putting the word into your mind and heart. Thank God for the ways he has cared for you. Make these actions a daily priority and in doing so, you will bring your family closer to the ideal Christian home—a home where the family looks forward to the eternal reward, where people strive to live better tomorrow than they did today, where Christ is the ultimate role model and where the Bible is the most treasured book. Will it be a place where perfect people live? No, but it will be a home in which Christ dwells.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Character Studies in Joshua. Christian Courier:
Jackson, Wayne. He Restores My Soul. Christian Courier:

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