I love this picture. Here’s a tree that never gave up, even when the earth beneath it has been slowly washed away. The tree grows along the shore of a harbor, where stormy high tides can reach it every so often. On the other side is a trail that many people enjoy walking along. It’s got erosion coming at it from both sides, and yet it still stands, reaching high for sunlight and holding tightly with roots growing in every direction.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live…” (1 Timothy 4:12).
We are called to be examples. Yesterday we touched on the example of our speech. “The way you live” is a much broader phrase! How to cover that in a blog post? Well, I defer to Paul yet again. Read his letter to Titus. It’s a short book of the Bible and won’t take you too long to read through, but it’s full of instruction on how we are to live our lives as followers of Christ. I don’t expect any of us to reach these goals 100 percent today, or even by the end of our days, but there are plenty of areas we can be working on with the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
But Paul is not the only writer who has high expectations for us. Peter writes,
So you must live as God’s obedient children (1 Peter 1:14)…But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-15).
We are not called to be rescued, and then to keep doing whatever we want to. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15).
James is yet another New Testament writer strongly encouraging us to live out our faith. “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17).
Praise God we are not on this journey alone! He is working on us as we submit to His will for our lives.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).
So, back to our tree picture. The hardest times to live out our faith are when we are battered and bruised by life. When we’re under the gun, our old selves rise up quickly to fight back (or run, depending on our personality!). Maybe we even give in to old habits and things that used to make us feel better. What kind of an example are we setting if we fall into those traps? We need to stand firm in our faith, reaching toward the One who gives us strength, hope and peace.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety (Psalm 18:2).