Tag Archives: Matthew 5:16

Standing Out

Last night my wife and I were swimming in a sea of maroon and white. The only problem was we were wearing blue. As we arrived at the stadium for the Mississippi State/Kentucky football game my wife looked around her on a number of occasions and said: “I don’t see any blue.” It was true, there were very few Kentucky fans there, as would be expected at a game such as this. While everyone we met or to whom we spoke was kind and courteous, there were many sidelong glances and small smiles, as if wondering how we made it in the gates (or, with the record of Kentucky this year, why we bothered to come).

On our way home from the game last night I was struck with a thought that developed over those couple of hours. That experience and those reactions are truly the way it is supposed to be with Christianity as well. As Christians, we are living our lives surrounded constantly by the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17).

Last night, it would have been easy to wear colors that made us blend in with the crowd; to make it so that nobody could tell for whom we were pulling. However, that would not have well represented the side for which we cheered and the reason for which we came. We are to be a people that stand out as different and distinct from the rest of the world (Rom. 12:1-2). It is not supposed to be only in the privacy of our own home that there is a distinction; but in the public realms of life, our light of service to Christ should shine before men so brightly they cannot help but recognize the working of God on our lives (Mat. 5:16).

So, as we travel through life seeking to serve God, do we “wear our colors proudly?” Do we walk through the sea of the world, not with an air of rudeness, contempt, or arrogance; but simple declaration by word and deed of who we are and on what side we reside? We should; no, that wording is not strong enough… we must. For if we refuse to declare the side on which we stand now, we have no hope of our Lord pointing to us as being on his side in eternity (Mat. 10:32-33).

Are you standing out?

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How Many People Know You?

There are over 7 billion people living on the earth today: how many of them know you? I am not asking how many people you know, nor am I lending recognition to the ideal that how far you progress in life depends on who you know. Instead, the focus needs to be reversed and the question needs to be asked: how many people know you?

There are a number of different kinds of knowledge that are possible, and certainly various people will know you on different levels and in different ways. But in consideration of this question, deliberate whether or not others know you in each of the following three categories.

Do your friends, neighbors, and community know you? Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16). Do the people around you know the kind of person you are? Do they see your character, honesty, sincerity, love and concern for mankind? Do they know what you believe about God, His Word, salvation, and eternity? Often individuals will try to leave impressions on others that do not reflect who they are. Some want to be known as simply “good ole boys,” never wanting anyone to see a difference between them and someone else. Some do not want to be known at all, but would rather walk through life in anonymity, with nobody knowing who they are or the type of life they lead. However, neither of these approaches is consistent with Scripture. We must let people see who we are, what we believe, and the character the Lord requires in life. Peter would admonish his audience by writing: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12 ESV). Others need to know us; to know that for which we stand and to see the love that we have for all men, desiring all to come to knowledge and obedience of the truth.

Do your brothers and sisters know you? I am not asking whether your physical family knows you, rather, does your spiritual family know you? There have been times where Christians have bemoaned the fact that they were in trouble or struggling and nobody helped them. However, on more than a few of those occasions the members undergoing such difficulties never let anyone know of their need. It is painful to see brothers and sisters in Christ hurt, struggle, and grieve in difficult times; but even more difficult is the knowledge that your brother or sister will not allow you to get to know them. When individuals will not spend time with you, will not give you the opportunity to build bonds of true friendship and association, will not make any effort to open the doors of fellowship and appreciation; it makes it impossible to be there for them and truly know them. It means the brothers and sisters of that individual cannot help in times of trouble, rejoice in times of joy, give comfort in times of pain, or seek such in return. Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phi. 2:3-4). Have you made it possible for your brothers and sisters in Christ to fulfill this command toward you?

Does the Lord know you? Most important of all is the question of whether or not God knows you. This question is not one determining whether or not he knows you exist or sees your actions; but, rather, does he know and recognize you as one of his own? Jesus would say of some in judgment, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat. 7:23). There will be those, some of them Christians (Mat. 25:31-46), who will claim to know the Lord, will claim to be one of his children and will claim to have done great things on his behalf. However, in their haste and surety to acknowledge that they knew the Lord, they forgot to ask the more important question of whether the Lord knew them. They knew who he was, but they had not fulfilled his commandments so that he could accept them as his people. It is interesting to note that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that Christ would come, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 The. 1:8). It will not just be those who do not know God that will receive the vengeance of punishment; but those who, through disobedience, have made it impossible for the Lord to know them.

How many people know you? Do the people in your community truly know your character and devotion to God? Do your brothers and sisters in Christ know you like the family you are? Does the Lord know you because you have obeyed his commands and conformed to his will? Only you can answer these questions, but the answer to all of them needs to be yes. If it is not, will you commit to living in such a way that those answers can all be affirmative, and to start today?

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