It's All Applicable!
Read: Philippians 3:3-9; James 1:22-25; Philippians 2:12-13
The other day, we were filling out a form. It was one of those types that can be used for more than one group of people; so, some of the questions were not applicable to our situation. I like it when I encounter the N/A option because it usually means that we can skip by other questions and get done with the form more quickly. There are other times the N/A option makes sense in life. For example, I received a letter not too many days ago that warned me that my auto insurance was about to run out. N/A since I don't drive, and into the trash it went. Then there was the time, several years ago that I received a sweet note saying what a blessing my presence had been at a particular event that had recently occurred. Nice, but oops, N/A because I hadn't been there, and into the trash it went.
Sadly, sometimes people look at the Bible as if it had no applicability to their lives. I have to say, right here, that I used to be one of those people. I was taught that the Bible couldn't have survived without error and that those who authored the books couldn't have really heard from God. Oh how I thank the Lord Who both drew me to Himself and opened my eyes to see that His Word is completely trustworthy, Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 119:160; 2 Peter 1:21. Even so, someone might wonder what difference believing in the veracity of God's Word has made in my life? That's a good question. Because I believe the scriptures are true, I now consider many things I used to believe to be false.
A first example, the way I see God has completely changed. I used to believe that He was real but distant. I was afraid that I couldn't ever know if I could please Him. I was afraid there was a hell, and I knew I didn't want to be there. Yet, I didn't know how to be certain I wouldn't end up there. How much good would be good enough? How much bad would be too bad? The truth of the scriptures has made all of those fears and misconceptions about the Savior N/A. I now understand that God so longs to be close to us that He made the way for that to happen, John 14:6. He wasn't vague concerning what we need to do, John 6:29; John 3:16. Oh the joy of discovering that trying to please Him in order to earn salvation and all that wondering if what I have done is enough is all N/A. How amazing it is that He could offer me His righteousness because He bore my sins, 2 Corinthians 5:21. What a joy it is to read in Philippians 3 that Paul reveled in that same truth. Although the apostle at one time believed that his own pedigree was surely impressive, he came to understand that everything that used to be so meaningful to him was useless before God. He referred to what he used to prize so highly as rubbish or dung. Something to be tossed aside when compared with the righteousness Jesus gave him. Everything that the apostle had been so proud of was N/A because of the undeserved blessing of receiving what Jesus offered.
A second example. How I see myself has changed. I used to consider my blindness to be the largest factor that defined my identity. Although Jesus didn't heal my eyes when He made me a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17, He showed me that the uppermost truth was that I am His workmanship, Ephesians 2:10. I was created in order to do the good works that He prepared for me. What's more, He had also been at work to prepare me for what He had planned for me. Yes, I happen to be blind, but that fact is a lesser truth than the fact that He has chosen me to bear a great deal of eternal fruit, John 15:16, and my disability, though it can be wearying and challenging is N/A and can't get in the way of what God wants to do in and through me, Psalm 138:8.
A third example. How I see each day has changed. Let me say right away how imperfectly I live what I am about to write. Even so, there are countless opportunities to honor the Lord each day, and that was something I didn't used to know. How do we know how to honor God? The answer is simple, but walking it out isn't. James tells us, in his straightforward, no nonsense fashion what to do, James 1:22-25. We are to flesh out what we read in the Bible. Our old way of looking at things needs to become N/A. Thankfully, the best thing we can admit is that we can't do that without the strengthening and enabling of the Holy Spirit. When He shows us an area where we need to change, He gives the desire and the ability to do what is good, Philippians 2:12-13. These ways we can honor God could be changes in attitudes or changes in behavior. They might seem like small steps to us, but simple acts of obedience please God, Ephesians 5:10. Honoring the Lord doesn't increase His love for us. It is, instead what we want to do because of our growing love for Him.
A fourth example. How I see my failures has changed. When I forget truth about myself, truth about God or truth about how I am to walk each day, I often fail to honor the Lord. It is then that condemnation can come flooding in. When this occurs, how I thank Jesus that although He convicts me of sin so I turn away from it, condemnation does not come from Him, Romans 8:1. Therefore, all thoughts concerning me that are condemning are as N/A as an offer for car insurance. All such condemnation belongs in the trash as do all lies from the Evil One that are often fueled by my former way of thinking.
Lord, Thank You that Your Word is applicable: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.