We all know that our future lays in the hands of our Sovereign God. The psalmist even wrote that “My times are in your hands” (Psalms 31:15), and Paul brought out the fact that God has marked out His people’s appointed times in history along with the boundaries of their lands (Acts 17:26). Our God is Almighty, and He is El Shaddai. He has created everything, and without Him, nothing was made that has been made. Surprisingly, God did not want to have dominion over all His creations alone, but He delegated it to us, whom He created in His image. If we are determined to have that authority, then God will help us manage it. If not, the devil will lure us and misuse the authority given to us by God. Are we determined to hold that God-given authority, and handle it motivated by His spirit?
Does Love Determine Our Future?
Loving one another, as we love ourselves, appears to most like a herculean task. When we struggle to love others, are we sure that we love ourselves? The scripture says not to love the world or anything in the world. And if we love the world, it warns us that the love for the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15). The scripture also tells us that we are enemies of God if we do not love our Heavenly Father (James 4:4). Lured by the techniques of the devil, we love the world and its things. We would not dare to earn enmity with our loving God, but the devil in us makes us an enemy against God. The devil ignites jealousy in our hearts, and we struggle to keep ourselves above others in this competitive world by any means.
The devil teaches us to play the blame game, and we think that we love ourselves. We are for sure friendly with the devil who has taken over us. All this happens in the absence of God, and we do not realize it. We love the world and its things more than us, and we fool ourselves by thinking that we love ourselves. When we fail to even love ourselves, how can we love our neighbours?
In this world, we are forever debtors to love one another, in gratitude for the love our Father bestowed on us (John 3:1). We cannot repay His love in any other form except by loving one another. The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God, and we won’t be ashamed to love one another (Romans 5:5). Our love does not earn salvation, but definitely, it helps us retain salvation.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.Romans 13:8
Does Forgiveness Determine Our Future?
Irrespective of the gravity and the longevity of our sinful life, God sent His Son and forgave our sins. The time we realize that God laid our sins on His Son, punished Him, and forgave our sins, we will receive the assurance of forgiveness and feel an enormous peace in our hearts. It is God, who removes our burden and gives us peace, and none can claim any onus for it. Once we are free from sins, instead of shifting our mistakes on others, we are ready to bear the mistakes of others and forgive them. Many a time, forgiving others might push us to a situation where we ought to own the mistakes of others. In that scenario, if we try to justify our stand, forgiving others will go in vain, as we are placing them in an awkward situation by proving them guilty. We can do only one thing at a time, either blame or forgive.
And forgive us our debts,Matthew 6:12
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Forgiving others has a cost, and our Savior bore that cost on the cross. Are we ready to forgive others at any cost? Forgiving others proves the truth that we are the forgiven children of God.
Does Our Strength Determine Our Future?
In the Book of Deuteronomy, God warns us not to attribute our success to our strength and skill but to remember God, who gave us the strength and ability to earn that. When Paul dealt with the subject of temptation, he said that God is faithful; He will not leave us to suffer beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we think that our strength is good enough to go through our sufferings, then God will allow us to suffer up to the level of saturation. Once Paul had a thorn troubling him, and he prayed for God to remove that thrice. God told him,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Paul understood that the intensity of pricking was because of his withstanding power and realized that if he continued to resist it with his strength, it would keep bothering him. With this realization, he immediately surrendered his ability and exposed his weaknesses to derive optimum utilization of God’s strength.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.Philippians 3:7-8
Are we ready to embrace this paradigm shift in our lives? Trading our strength to earn this, is possible only when we Trust Him.
Does Arrogance Determine Our Future?
We boast about our arrogance, and we feel that arrogance is the only tool to derive work from laypersons. We speak softly with the Parson’s chauffeur and harshly with a cab driver. James cautioned us regarding the above behavior in the following words in his book.
As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.James 4:16
Arrogance is the outcome of pride, and pride goes before fall. Pharaoh, in his arrogance, chased the people of God, not knowing that he was leading his own people to the grave. God delivers His people from the arrogance of evil people, and simultaneously God makes the evil-doers dig their own graves. The plots syndicated by the evil-doers against the people of God turn back on them. Do not let this arrogance prepare our graves for us. Our arrogance makes our salvation null and void and determines our fall.
Whoever digs a hole and scoops it outPsalms 7:15-16
falls into the pit they have made.
The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
Do our Decisions Determine the Future?
From that day onward, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil, decision-making became the responsibility of each human. While making life’s decisions, the devil always tries to confuse us not to arrive at the right decision. When the devil blinded the eyes of Cain in making the wrong decision, God persuaded him to take the right decision.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.Genesis 4:7
Despite God’s guidance, Cain opted for the wrong choice and killed his brother Abel. By killing the body of Abel, he freed Abel’s soul but killed his own soul while his body continued to live (Matthew 10:28). Finally, when he feared that people would take revenge and kill his spiritless body so God again showed His grace by protecting him from his predators. God has designed the things around us in such a manner that we may earn His goodwill. Our decision to stand firm in the Word of God sustains our salvation.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12
The Quantum of our Blessings
In our ecological system, every animal depends on others for their livelihood. A powerful predator might become prey to some other animal. Likewise, we rely on the life of others to accumulate the credit score for enjoying the privilege of living as His children. These determinants do not determine our salvation, but help us to retain it. Because God, by His grace, made us His children, and now, by making the right decisions with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are able to maintain our relationship with our Father and retain the unspeakable joy in our hearts.
While we expect God to bless us with a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, poured into our lap, we ignore the basic principle of God. With the same measuring scale that we use, God would be measuring His blessings for us (Luke 6:38). In the above paragraphs, we have seen so many determinants that decide our future. But now we are going to see on what aspect the quantum of our blessings depend. The following verse is the parameter for a good measure.
You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young.Deuteronomy 7:14
People have a bad habit of pulling one another’s leg or stepping on others to grab more blessings. The above verse teaches us to ask God to bless others abundantly so that God would bless us above their abundance. The yielding in our field depends on the greenery of our neighboring fields for pollination.
I will bless those who bless you,Genesis 12:3
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
While God saved us from wages of sin and opened the gates of heaven through the body of His Son, He also gives us many options to keep our salvation alive and decide our future in eternity.
Lord, help us to care for others not only at the behest of receiving our blessings but to love one another genuinely as we love ourselves.