12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online

Before you post that blog, Facebook status, or tweet, what would be some indicators you might want to consider first? In such an instance, I want to offer 12 brief questions to ask yourself. You might think of them as indicator lights, the kind a pilot checks before taking off.

1) Will it edify? Or significantly inform a useful conversation? (Mk 12:29–31; 1 Cor 14:26)

Try to think of what will edify others. All we do is in obedience to the command to love God and others. How will it increase their knowledge, or faith, or love? Are you accurately representing any positions you disagree with? How sure am I of my facts? Trivialities hopefully fill up our lives less than they do so much of the Internet. John Piper has said that “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove on the last day that our prayerlessness was not from lack of time!” He’s right.

2) Will it easily be misunderstood? (Jn 13:7; 16:12)

The privacy of a personal conversation limits misunderstanding. In public posts, some things will sound one way to those who know us, and another to those who don’t. Negative assessments are often best shared privately, or not at all. How many of us have learned at our workplace that email is a terrible way to share any kind of negative comments? And, thinking of more public postings, ask yourself: are there reasons why I may not be a good person to speak on certain matters?

3) Will it reach the right audience? (Mark 4:9 et al.)

If you’re correcting someone, should the audience for that correction be wider—or more narrow? Is that audience correctable? When you use social media, consider who is listening to what you’re saying. What if everyone in this room came over and eavesdropped on your conversations after the service today? Yet we do this all the time online.

4) Will it help my evangelism? (Col. 1:28–29)

Is what you’re about to communicate going to help or hinder those you’re evangelizing? Is it likely to diminish the significance (to them) of your commitment to the gospel, or enhance it?

5) Will it bring about unnecessary and unhelpful controversy? (Titus 3:9)

Think carefully about controversy. The line between vigorous exchange of ideas and a kind of social war is sometimes thinner than we may think. What is this particular controversy that I would be contributing to good for? When is it unhelpful? How much time will it take up? Is this an unavoidable primary issue, or a matter about which disagreement is fairly unimportant? Will this controversy play into any other division that threatens the unity of our local church?

6) Will it embarrass or offend? (1 Cor. 12:21–26)

Will anyone be embarrassed or offended by what you’re saying? I understand that the mere fact that something is offensive doesn’t mean that saying it is wrong, but simply, we must be sure the offense is worth it.

7) Will it convey care? (1 Cor. 12:21–26)

Will those mainly concerned appreciate your motives? Privacy in communication conveys care, an honoring of the person receiving the information. You like the fact that your doctor’s report is private; but you don’t mind that the sale at the store is advertised. If someone would rather be addressed in person, why not do that?

8) Will it make people better appreciate someone else? (1 Cor. 12:21–26)

Point out God’s grace in others’ lives, ministries, arguments, etc. Highlighting something that will build others’ esteem for someone else glorifies God and encourages others to see His work in them.

9) Is it boasting? (Prov. 27:2)

Does what you communicate online draw attention to yourself more than your topic? How could that be spiritually harmful to you or others? Will it leave people with a more accurate understanding of you? Are you simply being tempted to draw attention to yourself, or to what you know? When was the last time you encouraged others by sharing something embarrassing or even sinful about yourself?

10) Is the tone appropriate? (2 John 1, 12; Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim 2:24–25)

Will people understand and be encouraged in the truth that you communicate? How important is the tone to your message being rightly received? Is it evidently kind, patient, and gentle? The literal tone of your voice and the look on your face fill out so much of what you mean. In a personal conversation, you can more quickly understand that something needs clarifying and clarify it. The Internet doesn’t sanctify anger or frustration.

11) Is it wrong to say nothing? (Romans 1:14)

Do you have an opportunity or even a responsibility to communicate something? Some of you do this for your job. Have you established a “relationship” with readers, friends, and followers online that would expect you to comment on a particular issue or situation? Our freedom of speech is a wonderful stewardship! We want to use it well and responsibly. I guess there are even some jobs that aren’t worth sacrifices they call for, aren’t there?

12) What do others advise? (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)

When you are about to communicate something you know others will find provocative, do you have good sounding-boards to try to help you estimate the response? Do you take time to consider before you publish? Speed of response is both an ability of the Internet and a temptation to speak too quickly (contra James 1:19; Prov. 10:19; 14:29; 16:32; 17:27). Remember, you will give an account for every word you type (Mt 12:36). Does saying things at a “safe distance” from people tempt us to say things we wouldn’t say to their face?

Perhaps you could write down these questions and ask a friend to look over your social media with these concerns in mind. Or even, ask someone who you know disagrees with you on some issue you’ve posted on or written about and see what they would say. So many of us might be able to improve our care. Can you imagine how much care the apostles took when writing their letters?

By Mark Dever

How do you compare?

We like to measure and compare things. We compare the coffee at one café to another. We compare one internet provider or phone plan to another. We compare one school or university to another. But we also like to measure and compare ourselves in relation to other people. At work or in our study we will compare ourselves and our performance to our peers. Trawling through social media, we can’t help but compare our life to others’ (or to what they want us to think their life is like!). Maybe you are someone who consciously compares your appearance to other people. We compare ourselves to other people all the time.

We even compare our Christianity. How often do you find yourself measuring your faith and godliness in relation to that of a fellow brother or sister—or even an unbeliever’s? How often do you compare yourself to another believer by the church that they go to or the amount of ministry activities that they do?
But when we compare ourselves to other people we fall into two big problems: comparing down, and comparing up.

Comparing down
When we compare down we elevate ourselves above someone else; we compare ourselves to them favourably. In the Bible we see this play out in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. This Pharisee is a classic example of someone who compares down, and as he prays we are left in no doubt as to what—or who—he measures himself against: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).

By elevating yourself above others, you look down on them. You use a person whom you judge to be ‘worse’ as your measure. This stems from our pride and our over-inflated view of ourselves and our superiority. It’s the sentence or the thought that starts “At least I’m not as bad as…”. We do it because it makes us feel better and gives us a greater sense of self-worth, but it is dangerous and wrong. Jesus had some stern words about the Pharisee and taught that this proud attitude was not the path for those who want to be right with God (Luke 18:14). Let us heed this warning.

Comparing up
On the flipside, we also compare up. This is where we compare and see others as being greater than we are, or even the ultimate. A fellow human being becomes the benchmark we must reach. The Bible speaks sharply about how, in our rebellion against God, we humans have idolized and worshipped creation—including fellow humans—rather than God (Rom 1:21-23). When we compare up, we search for the ideal in the creation and not the Creator.
How often have you said or thought something along the lines of “If only I was like….” or “If only I had…”? Comparing up shows our lack of contentment and ungratefulness towards God for how he has made us according to his good design. It also shows us where we find our value: in someone or something other than God. Rather than promoting an attitude of thankfulness to God for how he has made us and the circumstances he has placed us in, we become jaded and dissatisfied with God as we chase what we have idolized.

Measuring and comparing ourselves against others, both favourably and unfavourably, hinders our trust in God.

The right measurement
When it comes to making comparisons with others, the bottom line that the Bible draws is: no-one and nothing can compare to God. When God addresses his people through the prophet Isaiah he says:
To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? … Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:5, 9b)

The true measurement for all things is in relation to God. The humbling truth of the gospel is that in our sinfulness none of us can reach the perfect standard of God. We fall dreadfully short because of our sin; we are not even close. But the liberating truth of the gospel is that Jesus is the ultimate one who doesn’t fall short of God. When we look to Jesus we see that the only standard and measurement that matters is who we are in Christ, not in relation to someone else. Through Christ’s finished work on the cross and his merits—not our own!—we can measure up to God.

Looking to Jesus gives us enormous comfort as we find our true self-worth in him, and leads us to far greater joy and humility than engaging in the fruitless exercise of comparing ourselves to other people.

So how can you fight the urge to compare yourself to other people? Here are three suggestions:

Fight grumbling with gratitude. Give thanks to God for how he has made you in his good design (Ps 139:14). Thank him for the circumstances that he has placed you in. Make gratitude a key part of your prayer life.

Fight jealousy with joy. Celebrate and rejoice in the diversity of gifted people who are members of the body of Christ (Rom 12:3-8). Rather than being jealous of a fellow brother or sister, give thanks for them and praise God for the unique way he has made them. Find a Christian and tell them what you are thankful for about the way God has made them.

Fight discontentment with delight. Find your contentment in your loving Father and all the riches he has given to you in Christ. Have a go at memorizing Ephesians 1:3-14, and marvel at all that God has given us. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit shorter but no less significant, memorize the comforting words of the Psalmist in Psalm 73:25-26.

By Rusdyan Cocks

Time Machine – Back to God

When I was a young boy, I used to love sci-fi movies. Especially the ones that had a lot to do with time travel.  The idea of building a time machine and going into the future or back in time really intrigued me.  I was fascinated about what the future would look like – flying cars, high rise buildings, fashion – all exciting.  But what caught my eye the most was the ability to go back in time and fix stuff.  I remember one such movie, Back to the Future.  In one of the (many) sequels, they had to go back to the past to rectify something that had gone wrong.  Biff, one of the bad characters in the movie, had found a book of all the horse races and sports game results in the past.  He then went (stole) on the time machine, went back in time, to give his younger self the book and get rich.  Marty and Dr Emmet had to go back into past to stop old Biff (from the future) – giving young Biff (from the past) the book – confused?  Yeah,   I know.

Can you imagine the chance to go back in time and change something?  A decision?  A word? An event?  So that you can fix the future. It is rather interesting isn’t it? Being able to go back and wipe your mistakes, so that you don’t get to live with the guilt or consequences of those mistakes. And sometimes it’s not really that far in the past – it could be last week, or last month or even this morning.

In Luke chapter 15, we are introduced to the story of the prodigal son.  The son who told his father he wanted his inheritance today, so that he could go and squander it in wild living. What a bad, terrible mistake. This decision he took, to turn away from his father and his blessing, did not result in much, but dire consequences for him.  He was stranded, alone and sought company from pigs (Luke 15:15-16). At the time of making the decisions, I’m sure it look like it was a good decision. Truth be told, we would also have the same temptation, given the chance.  But reading the words he says in verse 17 of Luke 15, it looks like he could have done with a time machine, to transport him back in time and not make the same mistake he did.  So that he could avoid the anguish, embarrassment and pain  of what he was experiencing.

How many of us have gone through the same process?  Where we make bad decisions, where we turn away from God and do our thing because it “looked and felt” like a good decisions at the time.  The time where we are led by our sinful desires and they manifest into actions, words that hurt or destroy relationships, including ourselves.  A time machine would be needed.  I am sure King David would have thought the same, after he coveted Bathsheba, slept with her, killed her husband and lied about the whole thing (2 Samuel 11).  What he would have done to go back in time and fix things – or at least warn his younger self not to walk around the palace on that day.

But we don’t have a time machine.  The great ideas of the movies, unfortunately do not exist in reality and we have to face the challenges and consequences of the rebellion against God.

But the story does not end there….

Looking back at the prodigal son, when he came to his senses, he left the place of desolation that he was in sought after his father.  He went back to his father to seek forgiveness and acceptance, even after all he had done (Luke 15: 18-25). To his surprise, the father welcomed him, embraced and treated him as if he never left.  His father never stopped thinking about him, even after all this time. The son had rebelled, but the father forgave, accepted and loved him, despite what he had done.

And so with us, when we turn away from God.  When we come back to him and seek him, he will forgive us, restore us and love us beyond our comprehension.  And this love is not because we have dome some great deed, it is because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.

No matter how much you think you have sinned, how much you have rebelled against your father in heaven – taken his blessings and squandered them – he has the unending capacity and capability to forgive you. It matters not the sin you’ve committed, what matters is the greatness of God’s willingness and ability to forgive you every single time you turn to him. God is able to forgive, even our deepest darkest sin.  So, if you are hiding, worried and embarrassed about what you’ve done to turn away from him,    don’t hide, come to him, come back to God.  Much like the prodigal son, when he sees you, he will lift his robes and run towards you, hug and kiss you and he will clothe you (Luke 15:20).

When I look at my past and the many times I have turn away from God and done my own thing, it’s hard to think of and live with the consequences, but what brings greater joy is that God was able to forgive me and restore me.  That has far much more comfort and assurance than a time machine.

Am I reading this right?

The stakes are high when we’re reading the Bible. We’re not just reading any old book—we’re dealing with God’s word, and what God says really matters. So what happens when I’m not sure I’ve read the Bible correctly? What happens when the person next to me is sure that I haven’t read it correctly? How can I know I’m right?

Firstly, it’s helpful to frame the question. Interpreting the Bible is a human activity within God’s economy. It’s something we do that fits within the broader context of what God is doing: the Father glorifying the Son in the Spirit by creating, upholding and perfecting the church.

Like all human activities, our biblical interpretation is affected by sin. As our faith is mixed with doubt, our works of service with selfishness, our knowledge with ignorance and error, so our interpretative zeal is mixed with sloth, our interpretative openness with prejudice, our interpretative insight with blindness. We cannot be justified on the basis of this activity. Our interpretation of the Bible is a human work: we cannot hold it up to God in the expectation that he will declare us ‘right’.

But there is good news! Through faith in Jesus Christ, there is blessing for “the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works” (Rom 4:6). As with faith, works of service, and Christian knowledge, we depend on God’s merciful kindness in our interpretation of the Bible. We call on God to graciously forgive and accept us and our efforts—in the face of all their obvious inadequacy, in the name of Jesus Christ—and he is “a God ready to forgive” (Neh 9:17).

So God’s grace goes before and after all our efforts. Of course this is no reason not to strive to do as well as humanly possible—just the opposite! Grace puts us to work (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). What does it look like to pursue good biblical interpretation by the grace of God, especially where there are multiple interpretative possibilities?

First, we recall that reading the Bible fits into what God is doing: saving a people for himself. God’s purpose is to create and preserve and perfect the church. This happens as people encounter Jesus, and in God’s wisdom the place we encounter Jesus is in the Scriptures. The Father and the Son have poured out the Spirit of witness, by whom the Scriptures were written, preserved, and recognized as God’s word to the church—and by whom the Scriptures are rightly read today (John 16:13-14; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Cor 4:14-18). In the purpose of the Father, by the power of the Spirit, we can depend on the Scriptures doing their job: bringing us face to face with the Son, God’s Word to us. This is the clarity (or perspicuity) of Scripture.

The Bible’s message is clear: God is with us—in other words, Immanuel, Jesus Christ. We interpret the parts in light of the whole, the ‘unclear’ in light of the clear. Some biblical words, phrases, verses—even whole books (looking at you, Ecclesiastes!)—are tricky to pin down. But we know that the notes they sound, however strange and even dissonant they are to our ears, must ultimately harmonize with the Bible’s great theme: the loving kindness and mercy and faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ. We call this principle ‘Scripture interpreting Scripture’.

Because Scripture is given to the church, and is for the church, interpreting Scripture is a church activity. The ‘communion of saints’ stretches across time and space. To read the Bible is to enter into an ongoing conversation with brothers and sisters throughout history and all over the world. Because the theme of the Bible is so rich and so profound, it is more than any one person or group can grasp and articulate. After all, it takes four Gospels to tell the one gospel of Jesus Christ. Other saints at other times in history or at other places in the world—or just other members of my Bible study group—may interpret the Bible in a way that would never have occurred to me, but in such a way that some new aspect of the grace of God suddenly becomes clear. This is a good gift of God, and to be received with thanksgiving.

But what about specific differences over the meaning of a passage? What about the real possibility of interpreting the Bible wrongly and destructively? “There are some things in them [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).

In light of what we have already said, our default posture must be charity and optimism. Perhaps the divergence is more apparent than real, and both parties have grasped some different aspect of the fullness of God’s meaning. Making this judgement will require time and expertise.

Perhaps the difference cannot be simply resolved, but is ultimately of little consequence. We can cheerfully await the perfection of our knowledge at the return of Christ.

Perhaps the difference in understanding is significant; we do not regard each other’s interpretation as ‘a different gospel’, but nevertheless as flawed and misleading. We can no less cheerfully part ways, each with prayer for the other, to serve the one God in parallel (the different evangelical denominations represent the endpoint of this kind of process).

It may be that a misreading of the Scriptures is so grave that in it we detect the activity not of the Holy Spirit but of another spirit; we do not recognize the gospel of Jesus Christ but “a different gospel—not that there is another one” (Gal 1:6-7). Here we can only do what we must always do in reading the Scriptures: call on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to preserve us from error and lead us and all God’s church into the truth (John 16:13).

When it comes to reading the Bible, ‘getting it right’ is beyond us. But it is not beyond the God of the gospel. ‘Right’ reading of Scripture has less to do with confidence in our technique and more to do with confidence in God’s power and goodness. As we come to our Father’s word in prayer, we can trust him that we will meet his Son, in the power of his Spirit.

By Peter Baker

Six lessons on holiness from Thomas Watson

If you want to take the business of holiness seriously (and you should), read the works of any notable Puritan writer. These 17th-century Christians understood that living God’s way is not a burden but the path to true and lasting pleasure. Thomas Watson has been particularly helpful in urging me towards godliness. I read his book The Godly Man’s Picture after it was recommended by Tim Challies in his ‘Reading Classics Together’ series. As Challies rightly points out, it’s applicable to any Christian regardless of gender. Here are a few of the lessons Watson taught me in his exhortation and guide to holiness.

1. Holiness produces joy

He who has only a painted holiness shall have only a painted happiness. (p. 17)

Watson addresses hypocrites who seek glory by appearing godly, but inwardly are full of corruption. There is no assurance or joy in this kind of life—it will be of no benefit to us when we stand at the judgement seat of God. Joy comes from genuine holiness worked into our bones by the Holy Spirit. He makes us more like our Saviour Jesus Christ who died for us, and gives assurance that our salvation is genuine.

2. Holiness takes intentionality

Look at the saints’ characteristics here, and never leave off till you have got them stamped upon your own soul. This is the grand business which should swallow up your time and thoughts. (p. 8)

You won’t drift into holiness. Like most important things in life, our sanctification takes time, planning and preparation. Do you face an on-going temptation to gossip? How will you plan to speak works of love and truth instead? Perhaps you could memorize Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”. Or you could pray specifically and daily against temptation. We should give more thought to holiness than any other plans we make, even for our career, personal life, or finances.

3. Holiness will never be reached in this life

A child of God laments hidden wickedness; he has more evil in him than he knows of. There are those windings in his heart which he cannot trace—an unknown world of sin. (p. 56)

Early in our Christian walk we may have a vague understanding of our sinfulness—perceived fuzzily, like a badly tuned radio—but as we mature it starts coming in loud and crystal clear. This is disappointing if we expect to reach perfection this side of heaven. But there is reason to rejoice. Not in sin, of course, but in the Spirit’s work in our hearts to reveal how desperately we need Jesus. In our weakness we are driven to the Cross where our Saviour died, taking on even the sins we’re not aware of. We find new strength, for “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

4. Holiness comes from God working through his Word

As a man would carry an antidote about him when he comes near an infected place, so a godly man carries the Word in his heart as a spiritual antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin. (p. 62)

So often I am content to read the Bible in the morning and consider my duty done. I have seen spending time in the Word as something to be ticked off my list rather than a glorious blessing from God. He knows every suffering we will face, every temptation that will sneak up on us today, and he promises that his Word will be sufficient to carry us through it. We cannot expect to live a holy life if we don’t allow it to work in our hearts. And this is not achieved by simply reading—I have found it immensely helpful to memorize Scripture, so the Spirit can bring it to my mind in times of trial or temptation. The Word is the weapon God gives us to fight against sin; let’s take it everywhere we go.

5. Holiness requires us to think rightly about sin

If men would step aside a little out of the noise and hurry of business, and spend only half-an-hour every day thinking about their souls and eternity, it would produce a wonderful alteration in them! (p. 207)

Have you thought deeply about your sin lately? Often churches will have a time of confession and repentance in their services, an important thing to do as a community—but I am lacklustre about doing this on my own. We are miserable when we fail to realize the depth of our sin. When we think we’re doing okay, all suffering will seem undeserved. When we don’t think about the severity of our sin, our eyes wander from the cross and there is no impetus to pursue godliness.

6. Holiness does not save us—only Christ does

It is not our holding God—but his holding us—which preserves us. A little boat tied fast to a rock is safe, and so are we, when we are tied to the “rock of ages”. (p. 215)

There are many benefits to holiness, but it cannot bring us salvation. You must make every effort to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (Phil 2:12-13). By his grace he makes us more like Jesus Christ, but we can never reach the standard of holiness God requires of us. The only reason we have eternal life is because Jesus, who lived a perfect life of obedience, died and took on our sin.

Since reading The Godly Man’s Picture I’ve realised how undisciplined my thoughts are. It’s much easier to control my actions than what goes on in my mind—and there’s little accountability when others can’t see my sin. I’ve had to be intentional about stopping thought patterns that lead to anxiety, discontentment, and pride. It’s been frustrating and humbling as I’ve failed time and time again. But my good shepherd has led me into pastures of peace that I would never have known if I’d kept wilfully sinning. Along with Watson I’ve tasted delight on the painful road of holiness and found it worth all the toil. As he writes in the book’s closing pages: “The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy” (p. 251).

By Cassie Watson

More than a fish sticker

If we earnestly seek truth in God’s Scriptures—desiring the message of Christ and what he asks of us—we find a message so profound and challenging that it tears us away from the very fabric of worldly wisdom. We are lead into a truth poles apart from the narratives that have been embedded into our consciousness and cultural DNA since the first bite of that forbidden fruit. This truth however, comes with a cost.

Several years ago, while studying in Melbourne, I met a guy who was changed by the gospel message. He had come to university planning to complete a degree in commerce and then enter the world of finance—high-powered work that would set him up well by worldly standards. Then the gospel message transformed his goals into those of Christ. However, this didn’t go down well with his atheist father; he saw his son as good as flushing his future down the toilet. I distinctly recall my friend vomiting from the stress of being pressured by his father to abandon his faith.

But this story isn’t unique, and shouldn’t come as a surprise. Jesus never said that he came to make our lives easy or filled with wealth and pleasure. Consider his words in Matthew 10:34-36:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

These are not comforting words but they ring true, especially to those who have become isolated and banished from places such as Hindu and Islamic households for the sake of Christ. But it’s hard. Human beings desire to be part of a group. It is therefore tempting for us to conform to the world’s way of thinking in order to avoid exclusion. Even in the small things we hate to be unpopular. Who wants to be caught wearing a skinny tie in a fat-tie year?

That’s why so many of Jesus’ words really do surprise us. They go against the grain of everything we feel:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25)

An interesting question for Christians to ask themselves then would be, “What does it mean to live in the world but not of the world? Have I taken up my cross, or tried to hide it behind my back?”

Before he died, Islamic-turned-Christian writer Nabeel Qureshi shared in his book about a young woman from Saudi Arabia who truly understood what it means to sacrifice one’s life in order to save it.1 A member of Islamic group Al-Hasba assassinated his sister for converting from Islam to following Christ; he killed her by burning her and cutting out her tongue. Why would a young girl in her prime lay down her life in such a way? She knew that by losing her life for Christ she was really gaining it.

Living as a Christian involves more than placing a fish sticker on your car: you must die to yourself for the sake of following Christ, a challenge to say the least. It requires a humility that goes against everything that the world equates with success. This is what Jesus himself recognized as he spoke to the rich young ruler seeking eternal life but who was unable to release his wealth: you cannot have it both ways. He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”. Jesus doesn’t leave us without hope, however. He adds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19: 24-26).

While it’s true that God requires what we cannot do ourselves, he transforms us as the Holy Spirit works within our hearts and minds, helping us to develop the childlike humility needed to surrender to Christ and to live with the courage and strength to run the race. The Apostle Paul knew well what it meant to suffer for the sake of the gospel, often pleading with God to take away his pain. The answer Paul received is the answer we all need to wrestle with and learn from as we live through our personal trials and tribulations:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I [Paul] will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9)

So next time you catch a glimpse of a fish sticker, be reminded that the cost involved in truly bearing one is far greater than its retail value. The price is our earthly life—and the reward is eternal life in Christ.

By Benjamin Swift

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