I have heard it said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything is the small stuff.” Yet I think it is important not to overlook some small stuff. My youngest child, who is 6 years old, decided to pull out about a foot of the white out tape just for fun. I went to charge my cell phone in my bedroom, came back, and was notified by my oldest child of what happened. This was not his first offense with the tape either.
Aware of the anger that was boiling up in me, I sent him to his room to think about what he did but more so that I could calm down and deal with this situation in a responsible way. I went to his desk and put my head in my hands, asking the Lord to help me with my patience and to give me the words to teach my child what is right. I tried to think rationally. The white out costs less than five dollars. Is it that big of a deal? Am I sweating the small stuff? The answers are yes and no, respectively.
Since he was smiling at me, he thought it was funny. There is nothing funny about destroying property, especially something that doesn’t belong to you and that you didn’t purchase. There was more than half of the tape left which meant it would be wasted because once it gets pulled out and crunched up, it cannot be fixed, as history has shown. God calls us to be good stewards of what we have. We teach our sons that everything we have is a blessing from God and we should take good care of it. When we know that there are people in this world who are in need, to willingly waste things and think it’s funny is shameful.
I explained to my son that to have that attitude and those actions show that he doesn’t care about himself or others. I asked him if he cared about himself. He nodded his head. I said that I hoped he did because I care about him and God cares about him. If God cares about you and provides for you, why should you tear up the things He gives you? I could tell he was really listening and contrite about his choices.
This was one of those character-building moments. There is not one thing that defines someone’s character, but rather many little aspects that make up the whole picture, such as the millions of tiny pixels that make up a digital image. However, if we recognize what God expects of us and trust Him so that we obey Him, we will see that belief influence our actions.
Some would argue that our behavior tells us what to believe about ourselves. Instead, I argue that our belief about ourselves determines our behavior. If you understand who you are in Christ and believe those things about yourself, you will be amazed how much easier it is to face what life throws at you. God sent Christ to earth not only for our salvation but for an example that we should pattern ourselves after. The New Testament doesn’t end with Jesus’s resurrection but continues on to illustrate how the apostles and disciples were teaching others how to apply Christ’s example in their own lives. Paul even said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Have you ever been treated badly by someone? What was your reaction? Did you respond in kindness and maturity, or did you allow your emotions to get the better of you and just read them the riot act? Well, I have done both and the former left me with peace while the latter left me with regrets. In complete honesty, I did not have regrets initially because I felt justified in what I said. Yet when reading Proverbs 15:1—“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”—I was cut. Jesus’s words in His sermon on the mountain taught that we should love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who spitefully use us and persecute us. It is not enough that we love those who love us, but to be like God we must love those who hate us and treat us badly (Matt. 5:44-46). Jesus did this to the point of betrayal and death. Consider Judas. Jesus ate with him at the Passover Feast and even washed his feet, knowing what Judas was about (Matt. 26:17-20; John 13:1-12).
The second chapter of Philippians does an excellent job of summarizing the consolations we have in Christ. First of all, we will have the same mindset of Christ. Verse 5 states, “Let this mind be in you…” The word for mind is from the Greek word phroneo. By Strong’s definition, this word means “to exercise the mind, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience).” In other words, it is a choice that one makes to have a certain disposition, or a mindset. With this mindset, if someone slaps your right cheek, you will be able to offer the other one (Matt. 5:39). But again, it is an exercise of the mind, not a natural reaction. However, with practice it will become more natural. This is because as Christians, we know no matter how good it would feel to pop that person in the nose, the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We are not to avenge ourselves, but rather give place to wrath. That place is with God and He will repay (James 1:20; Rom. 12:19). Secondly, we have the humility of Christ. He was in the form of God, the nature of God himself, but came to earth as a human and humbled Himself to the point of a brutal death on the cross (Phil. 2:6-8). Even though Jesus is our King, He did not come to pretentiously “lord” over people like earthly kings. He came to be a servant and a sacrifice for our sins. In addition, Jesus showed us how to live for the glory of God. We also have Christ’s exaltation. Jesus made himself of no reputation. He humbled himself to the point of death. Yet it was God who exalted Jesus (vs. 9-11)!
Jesus did not come to Earth to receive, but to give. However, we came here to receive and to give. When we recognize that we are ambassadors of Christ, it should affect our attitudes and actions. Knowing who we are, who we belong to, and what is expected of us will aid us in finding our own humility. With this mindset, we will guide our behavior to align with choices that meet God’s approval. When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!