How’s your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who’s living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we would come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.
Leviticus 23 & 24
4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal
Does He really “occupy” your life?
As we continue reading through the book of Leviticus, I’m reminded that not only is “all Scripture” profitable to our everyday lives (1 Tim. 3.16-17), but we can begin reading anywhere and glean great, practical truths.
Leviticus 23 gives instructions concerning the feasts that Israel was to celebrate. These feasts acknowledged and helped them remember God’s sovereign work in their lives, just as Easter and Christmas should do for us.
That’s part of the tragedy with the commercialization of those holidays. Easter has become more about bunnies and eggs and less about Christ’s resurrection. Christmas is more about “what will I get” than remembering that the Creator of the Universe humbled Himself to be born in a stable, to be a little baby with dirty diapers, to grow to be a boy who respected and obeyed His parents, and finally, to be a man who was willing to be beaten, stripped and crucified for me and you!
Here in chapter 23, notice the feasts and the sacrifices involved food: meat and grain, oil and wine, things used in the preparation of a meal.
Remember that God repeatedly told His people He desired to dwell with them. In Revelation 3.20 Jesus said:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
1 Corinthians 6.19 says that we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And in John 1.14 it says that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Old Testament feasts and sacrifices, in part, reminded them that the Creator God wanted to dwell with them.
That word “dwell” comes from a root word meaning “to tent or encamp, to occupy (as a mansion) or to reside as God did in the Tabernacle of old.”
His dwelling with us speaks of protection and communion.
The word “occupy” stood out to me. Does He really “occupy” your life? Have you allowed him to take over the whole mansion or is He expected to stay in the back room most of the time? Maybe He’s only with you on Sundays? Or maybe you’d say “no, He’s here all the time! I’m always talking about God and church!”
Spiritual Curb Appeal
Then the question becomes, how are you doing at living your life in a way that makes Him pleased to be there? Are you going places, watching things, reading things, listening to things or saying things that grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you?
And how does His residence look to others? Real estate agents talk about curb appeal, how a home (or mansion) looks from the street. How do you look to others? How is your spiritual curb appeal? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of God?
God wants a relationship with His people. He wants to live in us and through us so we can be salt and light to the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility! If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we came up short, how can we change that?
4 Ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal:
- Check it out. Look into the mirror of God’s Word and find out how you’re doing. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40). He said, “ “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14.15). Are there areas of your life where you are failing to love God by willfully disobeying Him? If so repent and ask His forgiveness. Seek His help to step out in faith and obedience.
- What about loving others? 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 says love is love is patient and kind. It does not envy or brag. It’s not proud. It’s not rude or selfish. It’s not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. And that’s just the first 2 verses! Why not do a little self-examination for a week or two and see how you’re doing at loving others. Simply read this passage each day and ask yourself questions like: How patient was I today? If I was impatient, did I ask for forgiveness from God? From others? Was I kind? If not, did I ask for forgiveness? Go through the entire passage asking similar questions.
- Learn to be humble. Pride is at the root of many other sins and is horribly unattractive to others. God gives us two basic choices. Humble ourselves or let Him do it for us (Jas. 4.6-10). One way of humbling ourselves is by admitting when we are wrong and being quick to seek forgiveness from God and others.
- Don’t grumble and complain (Phil. 2.14-15). When we grumble and complain we cannot be light to a dark world. Ask God to make you more aware of your grumbling and complaining. Or better yet, ask your spouse, your children, or a close friend to remind you when you do. And then humbly accept their criticism.
This is not an all inclusive list. Perhaps you have others things you can add. If so, share them in the comments section. But let’s seek to improve our spiritual curb appeal so we can truly be salt and light to a world that desperately needs Christ!
Crime & Punishment
Have you ever wondered about the basis of our legal system? Most of our forefathers were Christians (in spite of what we often hear) and they based it on the principles laid down in Scripture.
Chapter 24 of Leviticus gives one example. It talks about punishment for crimes. Verse 20 says “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” This related to criminal justice, not personal retaliation. When it came to civil and legal matters, the punishment was to fit the crime.
But in Matthew 5.39, in the context of personal relationships, Jesus quoted that verse and then said, “whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” In other words, be willing to forgive, even though it carries the risk of being sinned against once again.
Today’s Other Readings:
Vengeance Belongs to the Lord
In this Psalm and others David prayed that God would deal with those who do evil. He recognized that ultimately dealing with evil men was God’s job. In Romans 12.19-21, Paul said:
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We are to overcome evil with good and leave justice to God.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t allow people to suffer the consequences of their actions, including legal ones (Rom. 13.1-5). For example, if a man physically abuses his wife, overcoming evil doesn’t mean she silently endures such treatment. She is to forgive him, pray for him, and seek to do good on a personal level. But if she or her children are in danger, she should call the civil authorities. She should, also, discuss the issue with her pastor and seek the church’s help to follow the Matthew 18.15-17 process.
Foolish or Wise
“He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray. Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”
The fool disregards correction, spreads slander and is deceitful, but a wise man is teachable.
Keeping an Eternal Perspective
Have you ever tried to share your love for God with those closest to you, only to be shut down or criticized?
Instead of being excited, those you care most about sometimes become angry, calling you “self-righteous” or “goody-two-shoes.” Take heart, you’re in good company!
1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.
4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. (Mk. 6)
Eventually, many who rejected Him as Messiah called for His death. But as He hung on that cross, He said, “Father, forgive them …” That should be our attitude as well. Paul said:
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3.2-4).
Knowing that our lives are hidden in Christ and we’ll spend eternity with Him, we can forgive those who persecute us. We can choose to overcome evil with good and turn the other cheek when offended. We can pray that those who hurt us may come out of the snare of the devil who has held them captive (2 Tim. 2.26). Let’s keep an eternal perspective. Their eternity may hang in the balance.
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