1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV)
11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
The car sped down Hwy 407, Jane at the wheel. Jim, Joe and John, her passengers, were quietly gazing out their windows when Jane suddenly slowed down and began guiding the car to the shoulder of the road.
"Jane, why are we pulling over?" Jim asked.
"I think we have a flat," was the response. And sure enough, by the time the car stopped, the right front tire looked like a pancake.
"We must have picked up a nail in that last patch of road construction. I'll need to go and get some help." With this, Jane matter-of-factly stuck out her thumb, and seconds later, a passing car stopped to pick her up. "I'll go and buy a new tire," she called to her traveling companions. "I'll be back as soon as I can!"
As the car sped away with their driver, the three guys were left standing along the side of the road. Now what?
"Why didn't Jane just called roadside assistance and we would have been out of here in one, two, three. Now who knows how long we will be here."
"Awww, Com'on!" Coaxed John. "Let's just enjoy God's sunshine. It isn't all that bad to be stuck here!"
"I think I'll get back in the car," Jim decided. "I brought my portable DVD player, just in case something like this happened!"
"There he goes again!" Complained Jim. "I hate that guy! He's such a lazy bum."
"Oh, he has his positive traits," responded John.
"Oh yeah? Which ones?"
"Just look at this heavy traffic!" Jim interrupted. "We'll be stuck here all day!"
"Traffic?" John shifted his gaze to the road. "Wow! It IS busy out there! I hadn't even noticed. I was too busy admiring the beautiful trees. You know, maybe it's best to be stuck here on the side of the road until some of this passes!"
"Oh, go on!" Jim complained. "You're no better than my work place. My boss never thinks about us, his employees. He only thinks about filling his own pockets. He's selfish and-and our unions aren't any better! Real jerks, all of them!"
"Life isn't that bad Jim. No matter what bad stuff happens, God has given us good things as well!"
"Oh yeah? Wait until you hear about what my landlord did to me. You won't believe it..."
The next three hours passed very slowly as Jim continued to complain and Joe watched his DVDs. It didn't matter to John, however. He always enjoyed himself, no matter who he was with or what circumstances he found himself in.
When Jane finally appeared with a brand-new tire, John and Jim immediately set to work replacing it. Despite the fact that Joe was too busy watching his DVDs to help, it didn't take long to remove the old "pancake" tire and replace it with the new one; and by the time they were ready to roll again, the traffic had thinned down. They would reach their final destination after all!
Our journey on this planet is quite similar to Jim, Joe, John and Jane's car trip. Unforeseen events continually hamper our daily progress, and it will be our attitude that determines if our ride will be enjoyable or not. Complainers, like Jim, will always be bitter. They may help out, but their negativity alienates them from others, which in turn makes them even more bitter. Life is a bore to them, and their attitude sours the experience for all of the others around them.
Those like Joe may seem to be enjoying life, but because it has no purpose beyond having fun and thinking about themselves, they are not fruitful in their endeavors and people tend to not rely on them.
John's attitude is relatively rare. He enjoys life, no matter what circumstances he finds himself in. Why? Because he knows that God is with him. Why complain when you have a friend like Jesus living inside of you? John is a blessing to all those who meet him. He is reliable, enjoyable and fun to be with. He knows his purpose in life and looks forward in anticipation of what might be around the next bend.
Which one of these guys are you? Are you living like Jim, bitter about everything? Or are you like Joe, with your only purpose being self-gratification and fulfillment? If you are like John, it means that Jesus reigns in your heart! When you let Him be in control of your life, you will be able to find your true purpose. Any events, good or bad, are welcome, because you can rely on Jesus to deal with them.
Dear Lord, as we go through life we pray our attitudes and actions would bring honor to You. Help our lives show that You reign in us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.