This is why it is important that we consider the message that lies behind the way we live. Remember what the apostle Peter wrote in Peter 2:11-12:
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (NLT)
Peter tells us that we have to be mindful about the message we give to the world through the way we live. The perceptions of other people matter. I know we cannot ultimately control how other people view us, but there are steps we can take to put our best foot forward.
First, we have to live as foreigners in this world. Just as foreigners are influenced by their home culture, we need to be influenced by the culture of Heaven. This requires that we concentrate on living a life of faith, on being guided by the Spirit, and on loving neighbor rather than being influenced by the culture of the world.
Second, we have to have a code of ethic to live by. If we don’t have standards (a code of ethic) then we will find ourselves in a position where we get caught up in the situation and we will make decisions based on what seems best at the moment. Often the people others respect are those that stand by their convictions when the going gets tough. A person of conviction will stand out from the crowd.
Third, we need to be bold. Courage is essential if we are going to stand apart for the crowd. It isn’t easy being different because we feel so alone and vulnerable. That is one reason why people have a hard time breaking free from the influence of the world. It is important to remember that respect doesn’t come by being like everyone else, but it comes from having the courage to be different. Why is that so? I believe it is because many people want to be people of convictions, but they don’t have the courage to separate themselves from the world. Respect is giving to those that do.
Being respected is very important if we are going to make an impact this world. When we are respected by others then they will listen to what we have to say and follow where we lead. Respect is a precious commodity, are you making sure you are holding on to yours?
First, we need to be in the Scriptures so we can be reminded of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Second, we need to be encouraged by other Christians: from sermons and books to small groups and one on one conversations other Christians and spiritual conversations must be part of our lives. Third, we need to pray and ask God to open the eyes of our hearts so we can see Jesus at work in the world around us.
Fear will prevent us from living the life God created us to live. May we find the courage to live by focusing on Jesus.