What I Really Want

Even more than the ability to eat dark chocolate almonds and croissants all day without gaining weight, here is something I really want:

  • Favor with God
  • Favor with people
  • A good reputation.

I suspect this is what you really want too, even if your momentary craving is for just a few minutes of air-conditioned peace and quiet, with a carton of coffee Häagen-Dazs and a spoon.

This week I found a verse in the Bible that tells me exactly how to get what I want.

Proverbs 3:3-4(NLT) says:

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!

Tie them around your neck as a reminder.

Write them deep within your heart. 

Then you will find favor with both God and people, 

and you will earn a good reputation

Be Loyal. Be Kind. Then everyone, including God, will be pleased with you. That sounds a simple enough recipe for happiness.

But is it really that easy to pull off?

Loyalty

Who is the friend or family member you think of first when you think of loyalty? Who comes to mind when you try to picture kindness? I immediately thought of my husband. He clearly has both of those wonderful qualities —well, most of the time.

And how about me? Yes, I’m loyal. True Blue. I’ve got your back—well, most of the time. Except for those occasional moments when I wish I could reel my words back in, because I’ve vented and shared a criticism of one loved one with another. Would I be hurt if I heard they’d said the same about me? Would I feel they’d been a bit disloyal?

Kindness

And what about kindness? Of course I’m kind—well, most of the time.

Except when I respond to conflict with defensive anger. Or to criticism with a cutting comeback if, in my humble opinion, you’re just being a jerk.

When I read Romans 7:15-18, I get it completely:

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate… I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”

So the question of the day, as I consider Proverbs 3:3, is: Can I claim the promise when I don’t fully live up to the premise? Considering my lapses and failures, can I still call myself loyal and kind?

Am I?

My life is kind of like my glasses. When you are talking to me, you aren’t aware of the smudges on my lenses. I’m usually not either— unless my dog has tried to lick my face.

But if I hold them up to the light, that’s another story. It’s impossible to make them pristine, even with sprays and specialty cloths. There is always a speck somewhere— although it usually doesn’t bother me because I’ve learned how to look past it. I can see through them, so I call them clean.

Of course, when I hold up them up to a window, some of the spots are revealed.

 

But add the flash on the camera for further illumination and now I can see they are actually streaked and smeared and really kind of gross. Reading the Bible is like holding my lenses up to the light. Suddenly, lots of impurities I wasn’t aware of come into view. Then add the flash of the Holy Spirit personalizing it for you, and they become impossible to ignore.  And really kind of gross.

The apostle Paul described a similar problem that comes when we compare our lives to the perfect standard of the law of God:

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” (Romans 7:21).

and

“What I miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated  by sin and death? Thank God the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 7:24).

I AM

So when I want to look at an example of someone who is unfailingly loyal and kind, I find that only Jesus is.

Me — I’m a wannabe, wish I were, try-really-hard- but -often -fail–to- be- loyal- and kind sort of person.

He is. I am not.

But here is a piece of good news that will help us obtain the good reputation and favor with God and man that will make our lives so much more peaceful and fulfilling:

“And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

He is the “I AM.” And he says that with his help, one day, I WILL BE!

In the meantime, I don’t have to be awesome, impressive, or at the front of the pack. I just need to daily look to Jesus to show me what loyalty and kindness are. To try to live by those values and to admit it when I haven’t. To ask forgiveness of both God and man. To ask the Lord—who is the Spirit— to help me grow into those qualities day by day.

And that is what I really want. And isn’t that what you want too?

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