The Lord God makes it clear that His way of thinking differs from how humans view things. As He said, just as the heavens are above the earth, even so His ways and thoughts are above man’s (Isaiah 55:8,9). But, He has revealed His will in the Bible, and through that revelation we can understand how He wants us to act, speak, and think. So, when it comes to those matters about which He has spoken, it is possible for us to conform our thinking to be in harmony with His thinking on such matters.
It is a challenge, yes, a great challenge, to keep our thinking straight. We are easily swayed by those around us. Often people’s thinking is greatly influenced by those who educate them, the media, the rich and famous of society, and those who are in the entertainment world. Our young brothers and sisters are especially vulnerable to persuasive, yet unhealthy viewpoints. As a Christian, I must be honest with myself and admit that the world does not think like my Lord wants me to think.
No, not every concept that a non-Christian introduces is dangerous or spiritually deadly. Yet, there are a number of commonly-used words or expressions that you and I must be able to analyze and use properly. To use them “properly,” of course, means to use them in harmony with what the Bible teaches, speaking and thinking “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Let me mention a few such terms about which you and I need to be certain that we keep our thinking straight.
“Beautiful” – While fashion magazines and Hollywood rave about someone’s outward appearance, and cosmetic companies overwhelm us with advertisements about how to have an attractive appearance, we know that Jesus said that there are those who “appear beautiful outwardly” but inside they are dead and unclean (Matthew 23:27). The Bible’s instruction for those who want to influence others in a positive way is to demonstrate “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4). Yes, that message was written to Christian women whose husbands were not in the Christ, but in any setting, a person’s real “beauty” is in the heart, not the face.
“Rich” – Here is a word which is understood universally to mean one that has lots of money or material possessions. As followers of the King of kings, though, we recognize that the greatest riches a person can obtain are the spiritual blessings that God grants us in His Son (Ephesians 1:3). With such blessings, we are rich! Our God has chosen us “to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). It is not wrong to possess material riches, but in the Lord’s sight, spiritual riches are far more valuable than the temporary, losable, material stuff.
“A good person” – There are people that from a moral point of view we would consider to be “decent folks.” Some have wrongly concluded that since “those who have done good” will be raised to “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29), then any person that does good or nice things for others will go to heaven. The truth is, in the New Testament “to do good” involves more than just being a good moral person that assists others and refrains from doing physical harm to his fellowman. God’s standard of “doing good” means to be a righteous person (1 Peter 3:12), as only the righteous will enter into life eternal (Matthew 25:46). Put another way, only those that love the Lord will receive the crown of life (James 1:12). Such a “good,” God-loving person is one that obeys Him (1 John 5:3).
“A good athlete” – Some young people struggle to feel good about themselves because they are not blessed with a lot of athletic talent. In some circles, being “a good athlete” is the way to popularity and fame. For God’s children, however, being able to run fast, kick a ball well, or use some type of racket to hit an object skillfully should not be what we count as a top priority. You see, there is a type of race in which all saints are engaged. It is “the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). In this race, “the Christian life,” each of us is chasing “an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25). As good soldiers of the Christ, we are to recognize the guidelines that our Lord has set for the race in which we run: “. . . if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5). If you are blessed with physical athletic skills, do not be puffed up with pride. On the other hand, do not lose heart if you are not gifted with sports skills. For all of us, let us strive to be good “athletes” in our race for the Lord.
“Success” – Were we to conduct a survey and ask both adults and youth what it means for a person to be a “success,” how do you suppose most people would answer such a question? The great majority of people would say that people who have an abundance of money, have a high position in their occupation, are well-known, or are well-educated, are successful. One person defined “success” as “just being yourself.” What did Jehovah tell His servant Joshua was the path of success? “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). To have or be a success, Joshua needed to meditate on God’s word, speak about His word, and obey it. For such a person, the ultimate reward will be to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). That is real success!
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ (http://klangchurchofchrist.org/) in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.