(Quoted scriptures from the New Living Translation)
As we grow and mature, we go through the process of education. Sometimes that education is the informal process in the School of Hard Knocks. But then of course, we have the formal education through our school systems.
Most people exit high school with at least some idea of what they want from life. Some will immediately find a job, but others will go on to trade school or college. Those people that seek a higher education will normally focus their studies in an area where they have a passion. It may be to become a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, etc. Whatever it is they know they need to focus on the fine details to make them truly successful. Going into a profession half-heartedly without the passion and drive to be your best, is a recipe for failure.
Would you want a teacher instructing your children that had drifted through classes, learning just enough to squeak out that degree? That person may teach the same way they studied – resulting in students that do not know all they should in order to perform at their peak. Teachers need to have a passion for teaching so that their students benefit and are prepared to move out into the world knowing the necessary skills.
How about a doctor that learned just enough to graduate at the bottom of their class? Would you prefer to be treated by that person or the one whose passion drove them to learn all the ins and outs of their specialty? One that can treat you and advise you to be as healthy as possible? We could be talking about the difference between life and death here.
The lawyer – let us say that you have been falsely accused of a crime, or have been wronged in some way where you deserve recompense. Do you want someone to represent you in court that drifted through college with eyes only on those big fees they can earn? They show up in court and are totally incompetent to get the job done. The other person took things seriously – studied with a passion and a desire to help their clients. They come to court ramped up and ready to do things right for you – which would you prefer?
How about that engineer that works on the design of a high rise building? They should have approached their education with a passion for details – so strong that they would know how critical everything was in order to construct something that was safe for people to enter. There should be no concerns that at any time the building could collapse around them, which is a possibility when someone with a sloppy degree works on the design of that building.
We should all approach our life with a passion that drives us to be the very best person we can possibly be, regardless of our lot in life. It does not matter how rich or poor we are, we all have the God-given capability within us to be good people. However, we all have weaknesses that can allow us to be deceived by all the evil around us. When we give in to those weaknesses, we may find ourselves becoming self-centered – focusing only on ourselves and running over others to get what we want.
How can we become the best we can be and hold steady in that passion? I believe to do it on our own, in our own strength is impossible. We need to have the knowledge of our heavenly Father and the strength given to us by the Holy Spirit. We have the Word of God as a textbook – a guide. We should study it with the same fervor as the person that wants to be outstanding in their chosen profession – knowing all the details that elevate them to the highest standards.
There are those that think they can go through the actions of going to church a few times a year – maybe even weekly, tossing a few dollars into the offering every now and then, and they are all set. But they are usually sorely unprepared when facing difficulties, not truly knowing how to lean on and depend on their God for help. They have not learned enough to engage a strong faith to make it through.
That person needs to be fed by learning all they can about God; and that can only be accomplished through serious study of His textbook, then practicing what is learned there. It needs to be increased by continued teaching and praying for the guidance available to us all.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25
“Those who expect the sermons they hear and the words they read to make them godly will be entirely frustrated unless they are diligent in meditating on the truth and applying it to their lives. Simply sitting in a pew week after week will do nothing radical in a believer’s life.” “Hearing, understanding and agreeing without application is a self-deceptive dynamic. It appears to be faith, but it affects no change in the life of the hearer. Something more is needed – diligence, for example. And action.” (Chris Tiegreen) And…in my personal opinion – passion.
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:20-27
We need to have a passion in our heart that is so strong we want only the greatest success as the result. This next passage, spoken by Jesus, tells us what we need to be alert to that will rob us of our passion:
“‘Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!’” Matthew 13:18-23
2020 was such an unexpectedly difficult year for everyone. I believe that my faith is what enabled me to stay positive and make it through. What we are going to face in 2021 is a mystery at this point. Things could get better, they could get worse, or it could be more of the same. So I encourage you to take some time today to think about what you are truly passionate about – then determine how you need to live your life in order to fulfill that passion in this new year. But most of all – pray, stay strong and stay positive.
Written by Karran Martin – September 21, 2020