Yesterday, words came to me – words that I’ve been trying to find for a long time.
I was immersed in a conversation with a friend about standards of living (we were discussing All the Way Home by Mary Pride), and whether or not living a certain way is worth it, and if those specific things really mattered to God, anyway.
Then, it hit me. Whatever keeps my focus on God is important. I can easily tell you if something is keeping me from focusing solely on him. The whole purpose of my life is to please the Lord…but how can I please him if he becomes an afterthought? He must be my primary focus. All of my standards of living should be based around that one thing: does it keep my eyes clearly focused on the Lord, or am I constantly distracted and incapable of giving all of my heart?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – thing about such things. Philippians 4:8
Personally, I know that TV, certain movies, certain books, and certain music all remove my gaze from the Lord – even if it’s just a temporary glance in another direction. The thing is, I don’t want to remove my gaze at all. I am devoted to the Lord, and devotion doesn’t take a break. It’s constant.
As far as my children, I believe that our standards of living should guide them along an “uncluttered path,” so to speak. I want to enable them to see the Lord clearly without worldly distractions that will cause them to glance this way or that way. We will homeschool our children because I feel that inevitably, my children would become distracted within a out-of-home school environment (yes, I believe in sheltering young children).
I believe that living a simple life honors God because it puts him first. It doesn’t have so much to do with self-denial as it does with simply allowing ourselves to be surrounded by and to overflow with the love of God. I do not deny myself television and yet wish all the time that I had it. Instead, I am free to spend my time on things that matter – things that uplift, encourage, bring peace, show love, and nurture relationship. I do not feel void of a privilege just because we don’t have a television. Same with some music, books, and movies. Same with watching the way I speak.
Recently, I was deciding what music to play while I cleaned my kitchen. I settled on a girly pop album, where the songs consisted of lyrics about the girl wishing she could be with a boy, thinking he was so wonderful, wondering if he really loved her, etc, etc. At first, it seems silly and harmless. But then I thought, “How is this causing me to reflect on the Lord? Does this have anything to do with him?…..No!” I changed the music to something more uplifting and immediately noticed a change in the atmosphere. I was focusing on God again. I was encouraged. I felt surrounded by his protection and energized to work hard and commit the work of my hands to him.
I know some people who would feel like this is overboard. “Where’s the fun in that?” Honestly, is the fun worth it if ultimately, it dishonors God? It seems like our postmodern culture is far too permissive without really paying attention to what’s beneficial.
The Lord has given us standards for living. Maybe we just need to stop pretending they don’t exist.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:3-6
I won’t go on and on. I was simply struck by such a simple truth yesterday, and I had to share it.
I’m here to serve the Lord. I want to honor the Lord. If something in my life is keeping me from devoting my entire being to God, then that thing needs to be cut out. Fast.