This is a statement I saw on an online forum recently. And it got me because, well, I’ve been there. I’ve felt that way myself. When I first became a Christian, I wondered: How good of a Christian do I need to be? How do I best please God?
We worship Him, but we also serve His will. And that’s more important, I think, to him than anything else.
And I want to tell you, just like I told the person who wrote this first, asking how to be a better Christian means that you’re already on the right path. Good job! I’m very proud of you for doing that!
And I highly recommend listening to my last episode, What is Faith?
That’s going to help you a lot because growing your faith is going to make you a better Christian.
Works is going to come out of your faith. As you have more faith in God, you’re going to want to do more works for God and for other people.
Today I’m going to go over more about that. Not just praying, but how to be a better Christian, because I do think that a lot of people get it wrong. I got wrong when I started.
And that’s tough because we are ingrained, in our whole lives, as we grow up, to… do. We get congratulated for what we do. We get congratulated (or rewarded) for crawling, for walking, for talking (and then we get in trouble for talking afterwards).
And when we start working, we get congratulated and rewarded for the things that we do. So we think about all the things that we do, and how we get the rewards for that.
It’s about our being. I’ve heard people say we’re not human doings, we’re human beings. No, we’re both actually, aren’t we?
But when it comes to God, faith is much more important than works. There’s even a passage in the Bible;
Matthew 7:21- 23. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
That’s not my normal ESV, English Standard Version. That’s from the NASB. But what it means is that we can do great works in Jesus’ name, but if our heart isn’t for Jesus, isn’t for God, it’s not going to matter.
You can go through the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and you can look at those things and pray about those things. But I think I’m going to do a podcast about the Fruit of the Spirit as well, because I think people get it wrong sometimes and I want to go over that a little bit more.
Look at the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Think about what you’re doing that’s not of God. Do you tend to get angry? Do you have jealousy? Are you jealous of things that other people have? Maybe of relationships other people have?
Are you a shopaholic? With COVID, I think becoming a shopaholic has become a pandemic itself; so many people are buying stuff online. We figure out how easy it is to buy online then all of a sudden we have $500-$900 a month in bills of stuff we bought and we have packages coming to our house almost every day of stuff that we don’t need
And I think it’s because we’re trying to fill that hole of relationship that we’re not getting. And that’s another thing is, is it relationships? I’m not talking just about intimate relationships, just any relationships. Are your relationships with your friends strong. Do you have enough friends? Do you feel fulfilled there? If not, pray about that.
It’s not just about praying about letting things go, like getting angry and jealousy. It’s also about God bringing the right things into your life.
I just watched a church sermon the other day where pastor was talking at, I believe it was Life Church. And the main pastor who started it would go into the main auditorium during the week and he’d see people praying. and every once in a while, he would ask them what they were praying about; thinking at first that he would want to help them pray.
This really surprised me; he said that a majority of the time, people would say, Oh, nothing in particular, I’m just praying.
God loves our worship, he does. But he wants to help us as well. So when we pray, pray about something in specific; the more specific you can get, the better.
And I think I’m going to do an episode on creating a spiritual vision that is God-centered and God approved.
So when you pray, pray about specific things. I’ve been very open about my issues with people tailgating me, I have a tough time with that. I was in a car accident once, someone hit me from behind. And ever since then, I’ve been very nervous about that happening again.
And I pray about that because I shouldn’t be nervous about it. I’m 55 years old, and I’ve been hit from behind once in 40 years of driving. Why am I so worried about it again now, simply because it happened one time?
So I pray God for peace in that situation, which is another Fruit of the Spirit. That’s why I say to look at the Fruit of the Spirit, because that’s the things that can help you pray.
And look for a future episode on the Fruit of the Spirit as well. Once it’s there, I’ll update the webpage to point to that.
I talked about being a shopaholic. The wanting of material things is big, especially here in America. And I see it more and more in Europe, too. I used to watch old movies and I always be surprised because in the European movies you would see someone’s apartment and there would be a bed, a couch, a TV, a couple pots and pans in the kitchen, maybe enough plates for the people that were there, but that would be about it; their apartments seemed to be very spartan, maybe one or two pictures on the wall.
Not much. You look at the average American house compared to the European houses or apartments and it looks like the American is a hoarder with all the stuff that they have.
My office is full of stuff that I don’t need. But I’ve also noticed lately, when I watch shows, European houses and apartments are starting to be the same way. We’re all collecting stuff that we don’t need. The question is, are we just doing it? Or are we doing it to try to fill that hole, a hole within us that only God can fill? That’s going to be a big thing. God will tell us to get rid of material things that stop our faith from growing, that’s from Mark 10:17- 31.
Lust is another thing. If you lust after somebody else, and it’s not reciprocal (I’m talking to single people), stop it. Stop it. Look for somebody who can be your mate because if you look at the Bible, God wants us to be married to the person for the rest of our lives.
And the Bible is pretty specific on it, too. I did a sermon for teenagers once when I was a beginning Christian. I should have studied it more, but I talked about how marriage is nowhere in the Bible. And it isn’t. There’s nothing where God says you have to be married to have intimate relationships to have sex.
The truth is the exact opposite, or not the exact opposite. But we’re putting the cart before the horse here, because the Bible says if you have an intimate relationship with someone, if you have sex with them, according to God, now you’re married, whether you have a marriage license or not.
I didn’t know that when I was younger. And it’s unfortunate that I didn’t, but we have to watch things like that. So pray, if you if you lust after people pray for God… one of my favorite prayers is to pray to God to take this temptation away from me. Because the Bible’s also very specific that God will not tempt you more than you can handle. And when there is a temptation that comes, God will give you an out. The common saying is, if a door shuts, a window opens.
I’m not big on all those sayings. But that one is kind of true because that is what it says in the Bible. And always keep in mind, it’s not even God that tempts us. It’s our own desires. It’s our own sin within us that tempts us. God will allow us to be tempted, but he’s not going to tempt us himself. Some temptation is from Satan, or from one of the other demons possibly, but it’s never from God. But God won’t allow us to be tempted any more than we can handle.
If you’re being tempted a lot, it could be because you’re focusing on whatever it is that’s causing the temptation, and your desire is on that.
That’s where prayer comes in. Pray to God to take that temptation away from you. It blows me away when I pray that prayer, how simple it is not to concentrate on that temptation anymore. And I shouldn’t be that surprised, I really shouldn’t. But I am. It’s, I just I love God, I love how he works.
Another thing to do to be a better Christian, random acts of kindness. Now, I’m not talking about paying for the person’s coffee behind you, when you’re in line at a coffee shop; that’s just one rich person giving another rich person a cup of coffee. You might say, “I’m not rich.” But if you’re buying a $5 cup of coffee, yeah, you’re rich. Buy a cup of coffee and give it to a homeless person. Or if you go to the coffee shop and you get one for free, buy a second one or, maybe even better, buy some food and give that to a homeless person.
But better yet, give of your time. Random Acts of Kindness isn’t so much about money. Money’s not quite so tough to give away. You can give $3, 5, 10 bucks away every once in a while. And of course, the more you make, the more it’s easy to give away. Giving away our time is a lot more difficult because time is something we could never make more of. We have a very limited amount of time. But we squander a lot of our time anyway. Well, I know I do. I watch a lot of movies. I’m guilty of that.
I try to watch better movies, but I don’t always.
Give of your time and give it to people who can never pay you back. I work with homeless teens. And I love that.
If you are a female, I’d highly recommend working with people that are getting girls out of the sex trade industry. It’s surprising how huge this is. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle is one of the largest ports in the world for the sex trade industry.
And they need good solid Christian people to help them get these girls out of there and get them safe. Someone that they can talk to, someone they can be with.
But that’s not the ministry if you’re a man. The sex trade industry is largely female, although there are some men that are in that industry as well. So maybe you could help a little bit. But there’s other ways to help as well. For men, maybe financial help would be the best thing.
Random Acts of Kindness, give of your time to someone. Sit down next to a homeless person and talk to them. And if you don’t know what you could do to be a better Christian, download the Wagner-modified Houts questionnaire right here. This is a PDF file you can download it and print out. It gives you an idea of what your spiritual gifts are. So if you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, that can help you out a lot.
And one of the most difficult things that you can do to be a better Christian is what Jesus told us to do: Love one another. This is so difficult, but you might think, “how’s that difficult? I love my mom, I love my dad, I love my spouse.”
I’m not talking about them, I’m talking about loving the person who just cut you off in traffic. I’m talking about loving the person who every time you think of them you just think dark thoughts. And I’m not talking about not killing that person as being love. That’s a very Gnostic. Love that person. This is going to be a challenge that I give you, when you think of that person, whether it’s some random person that cuts you off, or there’s someone you’ve known for years that you just hate.
Pray to God to give that person whatever gifts he had planned for you. Yeah, that’s tough. It’s not easy. But it’s what God wants us to do, it’s what Jesus left with us. That’s what he said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, you should love one another.”
He loved a tax collector, he loved a woman who was a prostitute and had demons inside of her. But no matter what, the best thing to become a better Christian is whatever it is that you’re holding on to, whatever it is. You might say, “I don’t have anything.” Wrong, there’s something. If you really believe that you don’t have anything, then you’re hiding it from yourself.
But whatever it is you’re holding on to the most, give it up to God, that will grow your faith. And that will make you a better Christian in your eyes. Because remember, you’re not trying to be a better Christian for anyone else. And if you are trying to be a better Christian for other people, then that might be something you need to pray about. Because it’s not about what we do outwards.
There was a very common thing in the past where people would tear their robes when they were upset. And that was a huge thing because robes were expensive. Most people had only one or two robes, and that’s all they had. That was all the clothing they owned.
Today we’re we have 50-60 different kinds of clothes. Even men have at least 10 different kinds of clothes right now. But back then tearing your robes meant you had no clothes to wear. Or they would pour ashes over their head to show that they were praying diligently to God or they wore sackcloth. Sackcloth is burlap. And think about wearing burlap, that’s very itchy. But they would do things like that to show people that they were praying and just show people that they were being pious. And Jesus told us don’t do that (Matthew 6:5-6). When you are being pious, when you are praying fervently to God, wash yourself, put oil in your hair (that’s what they did back then). Wash your hair, look good, look proper. It doesn’t matter whether other people know that you’re praying. All that matters is whether God knows. Thanks for listening to this episode of Simple Christian. You have a great day.