Casting Off Negativity

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

–Proverbs 18:21

 

Negativity is like a weed that robs us of the vitality available in thankfulness, in right thinking, and in saying only that which builds up. Negativity never serves to edify, produce life, or lead to anything positive. It can serve only the purpose of destruction. Let’s spend time today looking at what the Bible says about negativity, learning how we can stop its destruction, and ask the Holy Spirit to be our Helper in ridding it from our lives. Scripture speaks very harshly of the power of an unbridled tongue. James 3:2-6 says:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

The tongue is the rudder that leads to a life of “unrighteousness” or a life lived in honor and obedience to God. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Speaking negatively produces the fruit of unrighteousness while speaking words of thankfulness and grace produces life. Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” We’ve all experienced the harmful effects of slander. If we will choose to cut out negativity, we can put out the destructive fire slander causes. Finally, Proverbs 15:4 says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

Have you experienced the power of negativity in your own life? How does speaking negatively about a person affect your feelings toward them? How does speaking negatively of a situation affect your perspective for the day? Now think about the opposite. What does it do for your emotions and perspectives to speak positively? How do you feel when you express thankfulness about your life instead of negativity? As we learned in Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” When you speak gently of others you will find life produced not only in yourself but in them as well. When you co-labor with God’s heart in sharing his message of love, grace, and peace, the result is a wellspring of life.

Negativity is not the same as correcting those around you face-to-face. The Bible speaks highly of correction motivated by love. And we need people around us that have the courage and love to correct us when we’re wrong. However, there is no place for negativity in the lives of believers. You don’t need it! You don’t have to speak negatively about people and situations. You can always choose to speak thankfulness, grace, and love. Think for a minute about what your life would look like without negativity. How would your attitudes, emotions, and perspective be different? Would you enjoy your life more? Would others enjoy you more?

The Holy Spirit is here to help you express thankfulness instead of negativity. He is always looking for opportunities to lead you into a life more full of the abundance and enjoyment of God’s righteousness. He is faithful to guide you into a fruitful life lived in obedience to him. God will never give you a command he won’t help you obey. He is not a God who sits back firing rules at his people from afar. He is a God who comes down off his throne to die in order to make a way for you to live a better life full of restored relationship with him. Choose thankfulness today over negativity and rid yourself of that which robs you of experiencing God’s promise of abundant life. Spend time with him today in his presence, let his love and grace stir up thankfulness within you, and receive the help that comes from the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life.

Live for His Glory

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

–Romans 11:36

One of the most constant and critical struggles we as believers have is balancing our God-given longing for greatness with striving for our own glory on earth. You were made to long for greatness. You were made to do earth-shattering, bondage-breaking, life-giving works. But the Bible makes it clear that when we overstep the boundary of greatness to glory we step outside of the abundant life God desires to give us. When we long to achieve greatness for our own fame and reputation, we load onto our shoulders a weight only God can bear. Living for your own glory will only lead you to a life of dissatisfaction, striving, burdens, and failure. So, let’s take some time today and cast the burden of achieving glory back onto the only person who deserves it and can bear it, our Savior King, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Our Lord, Jesus Christ, is the exalted One. He alone is the One True King. All of creation is under his rule and authority. God alone can bear the burden of glory. With glory comes great responsibility—responsibility you and I will never be able to bear. In Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Jesus doesn’t want glory because he’s prideful or selfish. He is lifted up because he is the way to the Father. He’s not looking for control of our lives for selfish gain. He knows that when he takes the throne of our hearts, he can lead us into abundant life. Through Jesus we have restored relationship with our heavenly Father. Through Jesus our sins have been blotted out. You and I have been made clean in the sight of God. And we will live in eternal communion with God himself all by Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s in living for his glory that we will find peace and purpose. And it’s only in living for his glory that the world will come to know the Father.
So, what does it look like to live for the glory of God? Living for God’s glory requires true humility. Humility isn’t acting as if you’re bad at things you are good at. You don’t have to turn away every kind or encouraging word that gets spoken to you. True humility is acknowledging God has given you the gifts and talents you possess and acting on that knowledge by living for God’s glory alone. True humility takes compliments and encouragement straight to God in the secret place, laying down any good thing you’ve done back at the feet of Jesus in worship. Again, you are meant for greatness. You are designed to live a life of effective and good work. Just don’t take credit where credit is not due.

How can you lead a life devoted to the glory of God? You must first begin by spending time encountering the glory of God for yourself. Psalm 97:1-5 says, “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” God’s glory is here on the earth. All throughout Scripture we read of God’s glory displayed throughout creation. His glory is revealed in his love, in his nearness, and even in you as God’s crown of creation. Spend time meditating on how glorious God is. Spend time worshipping your King. When you encounter the glory of God consistently, your desires will naturally shift from living for yourself to living for him. Second, align your purposes with God’s purposes. Pursue relationships, work, fun, and community in light of your need to live for God’s glory. And lastly, spend time in God’s presence allowing the Spirit to mold and shape you. Make room for God to align your desires with his. Ask for the Spirit’s help every day as you work and play. Open yourself to his leading as he helps you pursue a life lived for the glory of God. God has a plan every day to use you for his kingdom. He has so many promises he longs for you to experience all day. Live for the glory of God and experience the abundant peace and joy he has planned for you.

 

1. Spend time meditating on the glory of God. Think about all of the marvelous works he has done.

“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Psalm 97:1-5

2. Reflect on areas in your own life where you struggle with pride and living for your own glory.

3. Now ask the Holy Spirit to help you live for God’s glory in those areas where you struggle. Ask him to show you what it looks like to live for the glory of Jesus today. Choose to respond to his leadership with obedience and faith.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” Psalm 72:19

What does it mean that we are not to love the world?

“What does it mean that we are not to love the world?” Answer: First John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Yet John 3:16 begins, “For God so loved the world. . . .” So, God loves the world, but we are not supposed to? Why the apparent contradiction? In the Bible, the term world can refer to the earth and physical universe (Hebrews 1:2; John 13:1), but it most often refers to the humanistic system that is at odds with God (Matthew 18:7; John 15:19; 1 John 4:5). When the Bible says that God loves the world, it is referring to the human beings who live here (1 John 4:9). And as His children, we are to love other people (Romans 13:8; 1 John 4:7; 1 Peter 1:22). The parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear we cannot pick and choose whom to love (Luke 10:30-37). When we are told not to love the world, the Bible is referring to the world’s corrupt value system. Satan is the god of this world, and he has his own value system contrary to God’s (2 Corinthians 4:4). First John 2:16 details exactly what Satan’s system promotes: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Every sin imaginable can be summed up in those three evils; envy, adultery, pride, lying, selfishness, and more spring from those three roots. The world is what we leave when we come to Christ. Isaiah 55:7 says that coming to God involves a forsaking of our own ways and thoughts. John Bunyan, in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, pictures the believer’s position as having “his eyes lift up to heaven,” holding “the best of books” in his hand, and standing with “the world as cast behind him” (p. 34). The world often applauds sin. Hollywood encourages us to envy sinners and to foolishly compare ourselves with the “beautiful people” (see Proverbs 23:17). Often the popularity of “stars” is due to their ability to stir in us dissatisfaction with our own lives. Advertisers prey on our natural tendency to love this world, and most marketing campaigns appeal in some way to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life. Loving the world means being devoted to the world’s treasures, philosophies, and priorities. God tells His children to set their priorities according to His eternal value system. We are to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and we cannot be devoted to both God and the world at the same time. When we enter God’s family through faith in Christ, God gives us the ability to exit the world’s rat race (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become citizens of another kingdom (Philippians 1:27, 3:20). Our desires turn heavenward, and we begin to store up eternal treasure (Luke 12:33; Matthew 19:21; 1 Timothy 6:18-19). We realize that what is truly important is eternal, not temporal, and we stop loving the world. To continue to love the world the way unbelievers do will cripple our spiritual growth and render us fruitless for God’s kingdom (Matthew 3:8; Luke 6:43-45; John 15:1-8). In John 12:25, Jesus took this thought a step further when He said, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Not loving the world extends to our own lives as well. Jesus said if we love anything more than Him, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37-38). In general, the term world in the Bible refers to the evil system controlled by Satan that leads us away from worship of God. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We can make idols out of anything. Any passionate desire of our hearts that is not put there by God for His glory can become an idol (1 Corinthians 10:31). Loving the world is idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:7, 14). So, while we are commanded to love the people of the world, we are to be wary of anything that competes with God for our highest affections.

do not love the world

Question: “What does it mean that we are not to love the world?”

Answer: First John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Yet John 3:16 begins, “For God so loved the world. . . .” So, God loves the world, but we are not supposed to? Why the apparent contradiction?

In the Bible, the term world can refer to the earth and physical universe (Hebrews 1:2; John 13:1), but it most often refers to the humanistic system that is at odds with God (Matthew 18:7; John 15:19; 1 John 4:5). When the Bible says that God loves the world, it is referring to the human beings who live here (1 John 4:9). And as His children, we are to love other people (Romans 13:8; 1 John 4:7; 1 Peter 1:22). The parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear we cannot pick and choose whom to love (Luke 10:30-37).

When we are told not to love the world, the Bible is referring to the world’s corrupt value system. Satan is the god of this world, and he has his own value system contrary to God’s (2 Corinthians 4:4). First John 2:16 details exactly what Satan’s system promotes: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Every sin imaginable can be summed up in those three evils; envy, adultery, pride, lying, selfishness, and more spring from those three roots.

The world is what we leave when we come to Christ. Isaiah 55:7 says that coming to God involves a forsaking of our own ways and thoughts. John Bunyan, in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, pictures the believer’s position as having “his eyes lift up to heaven,” holding “the best of books” in his hand, and standing with “the world as cast behind him” (p. 34).

The world often applauds sin. Hollywood encourages us to envy sinners and to foolishly compare ourselves with the “beautiful people” (see Proverbs 23:17). Often the popularity of “stars” is due to their ability to stir in us dissatisfaction with our own lives. Advertisers prey on our natural tendency to love this world, and most marketing campaigns appeal in some way to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life.

Loving the world means being devoted to the world’s treasures, philosophies, and priorities. God tells His children to set their priorities according to His eternal value system. We are to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and we cannot be devoted to both God and the world at the same time.

When we enter God’s family through faith in Christ, God gives us the ability to exit the world’s rat race (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become citizens of another kingdom (Philippians 1:27, 3:20). Our desires turn heavenward, and we begin to store up eternal treasure (Luke 12:33; Matthew 19:21; 1 Timothy 6:18-19). We realize that what is truly important is eternal, not temporal, and we stop loving the world.

To continue to love the world the way unbelievers do will cripple our spiritual growth and render us fruitless for God’s kingdom (Matthew 3:8; Luke 6:43-45; John 15:1-8). In John 12:25, Jesus took this thought a step further when He said, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Not loving the world extends to our own lives as well. Jesus said if we love anything more than Him, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37-38).

In general, the term world in the Bible refers to the evil system controlled by Satan that leads us away from worship of God. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We can make idols out of anything. Any passionate desire of our hearts that is not put there by God for His glory can become an idol (1 Corinthians 10:31). Loving the world is idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:7, 14). So, while we are commanded to love the people of the world, we are to be wary of anything that competes with God for our highest affections.

How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?

When we read of the “world” in the New Testament, we are reading the Greek word cosmos. Cosmos most often refers to the inhabited earth and the people who live on the earth, which functions apart from God. Satan is the ruler of this “cosmos” (John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19). By the simple definition that the word world refers to a world system ruled by Satan, we can more readily appreciate Christ’s claims that believers are no longer of the world—we are no longer ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world. In addition, we are being changed into the image of Christ, causing our interest in the things of the world to become less and less as we mature in Christ.

Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values (John 17:14-15). As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). This is a daily activity and commitment.

We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God.

How can I live a holy life?

To be holy means to be set apart or separate from sin and evil. God is holy—completely separate from everything that is evil (1 John 1:5). God calls us to be holy, just as He is (1 Peter 1:16, quoting Leviticus 19:2), but it’s vital to understand that apart from God this is impossible. We must have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and filling us with His holiness. We can only live a holy life through the power of the Spirit; thus, the first step to living a holy life is to accept Jesus as Savior (Ephesians 1:13).

Once we have taken that step of salvation, we are declared righteous (Romans 5:1). But what does it look like to be actually righteous—to live a holy life? In 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8, Paul emphasizes sexual purity as part of holy living: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (verses 3–5).

Beyond avoiding sexual immorality and keeping sex within God’s design for marriage, we can live a holy life by being obedient to God in all areas of life (1 Peter 1:14–16). Knowing and obeying God’s Word is key (John 17:17). Hiding God’s Word in our hearts keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11). When we live in obedience to God, we are staying separate from evil. We are offering our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God (Romans 12:1–2). The purpose of living a holy life is to glorify God and display His nature to those around us (Matthew 5:16). Living a holy life of obedience to God is living in true freedom from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:6).

It’s not always easy to choose obedience to God, especially if we’re trying to do it all on our own. Satan would love nothing more than to bring us back into bondage through disobedience. But we have the promise, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit will produce Christ likeness in us, and, as we yield to Him, we can live a holy life (Galatians 5:16).

Here is the mindset we should have: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Any time we face temptation, we should say, “I’m dead to that! That was part of my old life! I am a new creation in Christ!” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). To live a holy life, to separate ourselves from sin, we must see ourselves as God does—as born-again children of the Most High, clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

We also have the benefit of being part of the Body of Christ. Fellowship with other Christians and making ourselves accountable to them is a great source of strength in living a holy life. As Christians, we are called to encourage one another in this matter (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Remember, we are not trying to live a holy life in order to earn salvation; living a holy life is a natural outgrowth of being saved by God’s grace and filled with His Spirit. It is also important to not give up when we mess up. When we fail, our response should be to confess the sin and keep moving forward in our Christian walk (1 John 1:9). Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God’s grace doesn’t go away when we make mistakes.