I’ve learned that I need to have a compelling reason to do something difficult, or else I’m unlikely to do it very long. I studied Spanish in school, but I really saw little point to it. It was difficult learning those gnarly conjugation rules and scores of vocab, and I found little reason to pour myself into it. For much of my life I didn’t see the point to eating in a healthy fashion. Pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, and Mt. Dew were plenty fine for me. No need for that abhorrable “green stuff” (except the aforementioned Mt. Dew). Yet, today I speak Spanish every day (albeit far from fluently) and I maintain a relatively healthy diet and exercise regiment (having lost well over a hundred pounds). Why was I able to make such big changes? Because I came to understand how important it was to make them. When my church began working with three Spanish speaking churches in Nicaragua I realized I needed to learn Spanish so that I could lead and minister effectively. When my blood pressure spiked and my health was slipping in many ways I understood I needed to change my diet or risk my long-term health. Once I understood the reason and purpose for behaving in a certain way I became much more dedicated to acting in that way.
I feel that a major reason many of us fall into perpetual sin in our lives is that we don’t always comprehend why we are supposed to be following God’s ways. Why is it really such a big deal to be nice? Why do I have to forgive that jerk in my office? Why do I have to give of my time and money for others? This past week I was reading through Titus and came upon this verse, which really clarified for me why we NEED to live lives that are pure and righteous.
To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Titus 1:15-16
While none of us will ever be sinless, we can all be living a life closer to the purity and righteousness of Jesus. We do this so we do not defile the many good things God has put in our life. We love and respect our wife to maintain the integrity and purity of our marriage. We speak the truth and use our words in a positive way so that our words bear fruit instead of causing chaos. And we do good works in our lives not to earn rewards, prestige, or warm fuzees, but to profess our love for God. We follow God’s commands so that we may bring the maximum amount of honor and love into the world while minimizing the amount of detestable disobedience. Always remember, we are following God’s ways not simply “because,” but so that we may bring honor and glory to Him and His Kingdom.