(Yes, I can still call you babies, even though some of you are grown. You will always be my babies, no matter how much you grow.)
There are so many voices around you. So many voices influencing the way you should think, believe, and feel. I know it’s confusing. I know they can be loud and often misleading. I don’t want you to be misled, sweet ones. I want so much for you, but it is so different from what the world wants for you.
The world will tell you that it’s OK to put yourself first. That your decisions should be based on your feelings, and whatever “feels right” to you must be. It’s not so, kids, it’s just not so. Jesus had a different idea of this, and scripture tells us:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – Phil. 2:3
Put others first. See the marginalized and the underprivileged. Notice their needs and then act to meet them. Reach out to the struggling. Offer a hand up. Care for the orphan and the widow. Befriend the child on the playground who is being left out. Stand up to the bully who is unkind. Sacrifice to serve those around you, and think of them before yourselves.
The world will tell you that you should do what makes you happy. But do you know that doing what is right is often hard? The better thing is not always the easy thing, and sometimes it won’t make you happy. Happiness is fleeting, a temporary feeling , or momentary pleasure. Happiness is the thrill of a new job or the excitement of a great opportunity. It doesn’t last, and honestly, my greatest wish for you is not happiness.
What I wish for you is contentment. Contentment will appear as peace when you are doing the right thing, even if it proves to be the most difficult. Contentment does not depend on things going your way, what things you have, or what your circumstances are. Contentment comes from living a life of gratitude, and of being right with God. Contentment is being satisfied no matter your circumstances, and finding your joy in Jesus. It’s so much better than happiness.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor. 12:10
The world will tell you that commitment is temporary. In this day of instant gratification and disposable everything, it seems that our word is only good as long as it’s convenient.
If you make a promise, keep it. If you agree to complete a job, do it all the way…and do your best. If you commit to a team, then see it all the way through…even if your experience is lousy, you don’t like the coach, or the team is terrible. Don’t give up. Do it all – the rewarding, the hard, the gratifying, and the impossible. And do it all for his glory.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17
The world will tell you that your outward appearance gives you your worth. We happen to live in a culture that puts a great deal of value in what people look like. We size people up by what they wear, how pretty they are, how tall-thin-fat-short people are, and if they are wearing their latest fashion. Look no further than most teen’s twitter feeds and you’ll see self-deprecating remarks, and criticism and critique for others a-plenty. We tear each other down instead of build each other up. A compliment for someone else feels like comparison for us. We are in competition…but is it a competition worth winning?
Although all eight of you are beautiful, your worth does not come from outward appearance. Your worth comes because you are sons and daughters of the King. You were created in his image and for his glory. He created you with gifts, talents, and purpose. Your key purpose is to bring him honor through your lives and to tell others about him. You cannot lose your worth by mistakes that you make, sins you commit, or earn it by anything you do. It is inherently yours because you are his. More than any other lesson, I want you to know this.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7
If you look away and take your eyes off of Jesus, the world will show you another way. And it’s often more enticing. It seems more exciting and promises happiness and fulfillment. It’s shiny and sparkly and lures you away from a life of God’s promises.
Live with an eternal perspective, babies. If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…the one and only choice in this whole life that ever matters in the light of eternity is whether or not you choose Jesus. The End. That’s it. Everything else fades in comparison.
This article originally appeared at KathyGarrison.net.