Strive for Excellence.

When we are principled, honest and discerning, we make choices that will impact us, and others. There are benefits to being upright that will be reaped for a lifetime. We can motivate or discourage others by our conduct as Christians. God delights in those who are determined to live righteously in the midst of a world full of temptations, darkness, trials and sin. 

“Approach The Lord with a desire to be acceptable before Him.”

Who may ascend into the hill of The Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from The Lord, and righteousness from The God of His Salvation ( Psalm 24).

God is Holy; those who desire to come before Him, must show Him reverence and honor. We are unworthy to stand before The Lord, because He is Holy. He wants us to approach Him, because He loves us and delights in fellowship with His people. God doesn’t share glory with other gods. Our loyalty to Him is of utmost importance. We have to approach Him as The Only God we seek. Our hearts should never be lifted to an idol. 

He requires we come in repentance, with a pure heart that is honest about sin. We are not to make excuses for our disobedience while in His Presence. A pure heart is inspired to please God. Submission to God compels us to forsake our ways for His—no more deceit and self-righteousness. The one who may stand in His holy place yields to God’s Righteousness. God imparts His Righteousness, because ours is wanting before Him. We are to approach with clean hands, with hands undefiled by works of darkness, that don’t take part in wickedness or harming others. 

Those who are in good standing with God will be blessed by Him. They will not leave the same way they came into His Holy Presence. They will be clothed in His Righteousness, and Salvation; they are blessed for eternity. They are donned with garments that are befitting His Honor and Majesty. Approach The Lord with a desire to be acceptable before Him. He will honor and bless the initiative we take to live for Him.

“Challenges test our mettle and convictions.”

23  Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxieties; 24  and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139).

An introspection reveals weaknesses, strengths and areas that need remedy. If we are determined to walk uprightly before God, then we have to be willing to let Him examine our heart. God will test us to show us who we are, when we are under pressure. When in adversity, our fears can make us vulnerable, doubtful and hopeless. Challenges test our mettle and convictions. When God tests us, He uncovers any wickedness within us. We ingratiate with God more when we are facing hardship, because we need Him to intervene. He works within us, while we are waiting for Him. Trials can be training grounds for righteousness. If we are pliable, He will lead us in the way of everlasting.

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright (Genesis 25).

Esau sold his birthright for a soup of lentils. He disregarded a long-term boon for a short-lived desire. He despised his birthright, by giving it to Jacob. Hardship can drive us to a point of utter desperation. What are you willing to sacrifice in the Kingdom of God, to satisfy a desire? We are co-heirs with The Lord Jesus Christ, in the Kingdom of The Father. We have an inheritance that we should not forfeit for fleshly lusts. That insatiable desire may intensify, but we have to master it, by reminding ourselves the cost we are unwilling to pay. 

“We can motivate or discourage others by our conduct as Christians.”

16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves (Romans 14).

God is concerned for the weak ones, who are susceptible to temptations. The pleasures we indulge in as Christians could cause others who are weak to stumble. The Kingdom of God is not summed up in whether we eat certain meat, or what we drink. If we are filled with The Holy Spirit, we will be content with His Righteousness, Peace and Joy; and nothing else will satisfy. If our indulgences tempt another believer who was once captive to those pleasures, they could relapse. What we become party to may weaken another who is on a path to recovery from their past decadence. 

The work God is doing in others’ lives should not be undermined by our poor example. If a fellow believer stumbles, or is made weak, because of what we allow, we are no longer serving Christ, but ourselves. If what we may indulge in will weaken our children, or cause to stumble those who look up to us, then we should consider keeping it out of their sight. Practice your faith in what you approve in the sight of God. For the sake of another be considerate, by encouraging them to walk in righteousness. We should be willing to make sacrifices that edify others. 

“A pure heart is inspired to please God.”

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which The Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1).

Our own desires will drive us to get what we want. We have to subjugate urges that lead us into sin. Resisting temptation will take putting greater value on a different desire. When we uphold faithfulness, righteousness and relationships, we will be vigilant and discerning. God does not tempt us; He tests our love for Him. Those who endure temptation are bolstered by love and honor. We are sucked into temptation, when we thrust aside godly virtues. We can overcome our thoughts and emotions with fortitude and resolve. The crown of life is given to the one who loves God with their whole mind and being. Love for God and others stimulates us to have integrity. Desires that lead us to sin reveal our discontent with who we are supposed to be. Sin leads to the death of the soul, because it separates us from God. Christians are enticed as much as unbelievers, but they must choose to love God first.  Their love is expressed in obedience.

7  For The Lord is Righteous, He loves righteousness. His Countenance beholds the upright (Psalm 11).

The Lord is Holy and Righteous, and He intends for us to be like Him. He made us in His Image and Likeness; just as children bear resemblance to their parents. He loves those who live uprightly. What parent doesn’t delight in a child who applies what they have been taught? An obedient child will not be denied blessings, favor and grace from their parents. God looks on the upright as the apple of His Eye. He will not withhold Good from those who love Him and desire to please Him.

We have access to God, by His Grace. If we approach Him, we will receive from Him, when we come with clean hands and a pure heart. Our willingness to be upright will forbid us from making excuses for our sins. Repentance rejects our sinful condition, for His Righteousness. God is Faithful to the faithful. So, we must be faithful in righteous living, no matter the temptations, or the adversities we are faced with. We are always tested in times of trials. Our love and honor for God will keep us grounded, so that we don’t slip. He has already given us an imperishable eternal inheritance in The Lord Jesus. We should not sell our birthright for the ephemeral or short-lived pleasures. Whatever we do or allow should not cause the weak or those who look up to us to stumble. We must serve The Lord with what we indulge in and participate in, by being an example to others. If we love and honor God and others, we will ensure that we live not just for ourselves, but for the betterment of all. 

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His Will; working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be Glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13).

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