Sweeter as the Days Go By
Monday - January 4th
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 1:19-20
The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth
and the desires for other things come in
and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
"The first thing that will hinder the joy God has for us is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances." This summary of Jesus' words in Mark 4:19 comes from Oswald Chambers' devotional "My Utmost for His Highest." Chambers explains that our disposition in life as followers of Christ comes from how much focus we place on our circumstances compared to who we are in Christ.
Someone has summarized it this way: "Attitude is everything. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." For us, as the followers of Jesus, we have a foundation upon which this approach to attitude firmly sits - our relationship to Christ. With Him in our lives, nothing about our circumstances can ultimately affect us. We sit eternally secure and safe in the hand of God the Father (John 10:25-27). Nothing can change that. Without Christ and the eternal hope we have in Him, our circumstances would control everything - including our attitude.
For those without Jesus in their lives, the everyday ups and downs of life's circumstances are the only stability they have. There is no other hope. As God's children, we do not have to be caught up in the same instability of having our perspective and attitude entirely controlled by the ever-shifting events of life. Too many of us live our lives as if our circumstances determine our day and our destiny. For us, Christ, not our circumstances, determines our day today and our destiny forever.
Discouragement, bitterness, fear, worry, irritability, and even anger settle into hearts controlled by shifting life events. All of these qualities take over when we allow the instability of our circumstances to define our lives. None of them can control us when our personal security and our outlook rests in the stability of Christ.
As human beings age, it seems we either grow sweeter as the days go by or we grow more and more bitter. For the followers of Christ, bitterness and anger are not an option if we want to obey God in living and loving like Jesus. James 1:19-20 warns us about the spiritually debilitating effect anger and bitterness bring to our lives. Similarly, Jesus warned that a worry-filled focus on our circumstances would choke out the impact of God's Word on us (Mark 4:19).
Our friends, neighbors, co-workers, children, and grandchildren should not see us growing more bitter as the days go by. They should see us growing sweeter as the days go by. The core determiner of whether we grow more bitter or get sweeter is found in whether we focus more on our circumstances or our Savior!
Would others say you are getting sweeter as the days go by? They should be able to say that if your focus is where it needs to be.
When Christ, not our circumstances, is our focus and stability, we get sweeter as the days go by!