Becoming a part or - Apart?
*Written for Light Magazine’s A Heart Set Apart
I cringe when I evaluate how I spent my day. Wasn’t Ephesians 5 clear enough? “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”. Why does it seem as if once the day began – once I must obey these verses, everything just downslides? How could five minutes of “just” checking email roll into an hour that should have been spent doing school? And if I had enough time for that, why did I tell my sister, “No, not right now,” when she wanted to read a book? I remember how I raced through the end of the day catching up on the time wasted – growing irritated when told to vacuum the house and change sister’s diaper… Then a thought –if Jesus came back today and he asked me, “How have you served ME today?”, I would have nothing to say.
As Christians, we must be set-apart for God. What we live for, what we talk about, how we spend our free time, how we love,…should be built on the foundation of, “What does Jesus say?” But it’s easier said than done. Satan makes sure it’s hard for us to live for God. And often times, we fall for his tricks. But in order for our lives to honor God, we must know what kind of weapons Satan uses, and what he is targeting. Let’s look at two of them.
If you are making life decisions based on what God calls you to do, watch out. Satan may use peer-pressure to make you second-think. Satan wants you to second-think godliness. I mean, wouldn’t it just be easier if everyone would believe the same things? It’s so embarrassing when others rave about the latest movies that we try to avoid, and ask our opinions, and see “that look” on their face when we say, “Well, we don’t plan on watching it.” Or when someone asks, “Why DO you believe in God?” and “Do you have to wear skirts all the time?” Or, a group of girls are gossiping about another friend, and you start to feel very guilty, and you think, “Should I excuse myself, or try to change the topic?” We want to be accepted, to get along with everyone else. And when we are confronted for what we believe, we sometimes feel foolish. Is this really worth it; are they right?
Don’t fall for Satan’s lies! Being set-apart means being radically different. Instead of being a part of the group, you are apart. Your life will not make sense to non-believers. So don’t groan when they ask questions. Be prepared to give an answer. Read the Bible; make sure you know what you are doing is right. Ask your parents, or the wise people in your life. Research. You must know the reason why you don’t watch certain movies, why you dress a certain way, why you know God is real, why you choose to love your enemies… the list multiples. Simple as it is, if you don’t know why you believe something, you will not be able to explain it.
Living a set-apart life means spending time living that way, right? Well, Satan steals time for this one. He tries to convince you to fill up your time with things that really don’t contribute to a set-apart life. He distracts you. It can come in the form of hobbies – movies, blogs, books, writing, internet, photography, knitting, reading. All these aren’t wrong, but they can easily replace the time when you could be reading the Bible, prayer, or even spending time with your family.
While writing this essay, I kept wondering, “Why is it so hard to spend my time wisely? Why is it so hard to live a set-apart life?” Then I understood. I didn’t know my goal! When I read verses like Ephesians 5, I didn’t devote enough time figuring out how I, Megan, should make the most of every opportunity—choose to spend my time wisely in my own life TODAY. What the Bible commanded did not absorb into my brain. I did not live every day with a specific purpose. That was the problem. In all my strivings to be like Jesus, to choose to live a life set-apart for Him, I didn’t realize the cost and the result of being different. Hebrews 11 says it better than I can, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In order to have a set-apart heart, you must know what you are looking forward for. Once you know your goal, everything you do will be to inch closer to the goal. Without the goal, your efforts will be unfocused. Confused. What is our goal? Our goal as Christians is to have God say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
The good news? We are not alone in this battle. We don’t become set-apart people by ourselves. God doesn’t just give us a bunch of rules to leave us to figure out how to apply them. He is in our hearts directing, strengthening, and teaching His children! Make sure, though, that you know “the reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t forget Who you are living for. Know that set-apart lives are exactly what Satan targets.
Know your goal, your God, your lifestyle, and you will know your reward.
Do you have a suggestion of a better title? If you could suggest one that fits this essay, it would help me more than you will probably know.