With each passing year I settle deeper into my faith. I've walked with Jesus long enough to know the sun shines again and the good comes. I've learned to trust Him in all situations and to have a perspective on life that the trials I encounter are just blips on all of eternity. That some things which seem insignificant, even the smallest kindness, do matter in the scheme of eternity. I've learned love trumps all. And I have a clear view of what is important in this life.
I was pondering my spiritual journey over the years and I realized God has moved my yardstick in many areas.
I call God's standard for my life; my yardstick. Now understand that it is my yardstick and not your yardstick. I don't hold you to my yardstick. My yardstick is between God and me. Yours is between God and you.
Comfort level with spiritual things:
My whole life up until I was 42 years old I went to a traditional church where they sang hymns and had a Scripture reading and a sermon. You had to dress up in your Sunday finest to go to church. I was invited to a non-denomination church in an auditorium setting with a stage, no sign of a cross anywhere, and it had a band with guitars, keyboard and drums. I was immediately struck by the way people dressed in casual clothes like shorts and jeans! Then the band started with their contemporary music and it was loud! Some people swayed with their arms extended in the air. It seemed to somehow be irreverent to me. I felt very uncomfortable, but the "message" (what they called the sermon) was so good and I eventually became a member of this church. I still dressed up for church even though others didn't but my standards loosened up some over time. I enjoyed the music and even sometimes raised my arms in praise. God moved my yardstick.
I worked at a Christian bookstore for a year and they asked us when we were opening to pray over the aisles and to anoint the front door of the store. I didn't have any problem with praying over the store, but I did with the anointing part. It felt weird to me. Who was I thinking I was qualified to anoint the door? I laugh because I wouldn't have a problem doing it now. My yardstick has been moved.
I shall set no worthless thing before my eyes:
I took Psalm 101:3 to heart. My yardstick began moving on this one around 2004. I was reading several Christian books and I would talk about them with the staff at the church suggesting they put them in the church bookstore where I served. I found out one of the books I had read was by a charismatic author who had questionable ethics. A couple more books were not approved for the church bookstore because some of the ideas put forth in them weren't good biblical teaching. The church bookstore had a standard they held to and these books didn't meet their standard. I began to look into more what I was reading.
When Fifty Shades of Grey was published in 2011, I figured it didn't honor God for me to read it. So I didn't and I haven't seen the movie. I'm sure if it had come out ten years prior to that I would have. You may have read it, but remember my yardstick isn't your yardstick.
The bookstore I worked at carried some questionable "Christian" books. Some of them had some bad theology in them and some were flat out rejected by the Christian community at large. The problem was the bookstore had "Christian" in the name and because of that people assumed that all the books held to a certain standard like a church would. I quickly found out that Christians come in all shapes and sizes of beliefs. Many of these questionable books were hot sellers. The owner wanted to make money, those books sold, so he carried them. I learned which authors and genre to steer clear of. I could list these authors and I have been tempted at times to do that, but I have to remind myself that we have a different set of standards.
Here's what I do suggest though. Before reading a "Christian" book check out the reviews. Research the author you are reading or the speaker you are listening to. If there is a problem with the book or podcast or whatever, you will find out really quickly. Stay away from questionable ones you hear about. There are so many good Christian resources out there and I would spend your time on those. Commit to feeding your mind with worthwhile ideas.
The spiritual realm:
I'm not exactly sure when I began really believing in spiritual warfare. Prior to that I know I believed in angels and demons and Satan, but I didn't really think they had much impact on my life. After studying about spiritual warfare several times over the years, I know I believe in it now. I came into possession of a bracelet that had an eye on it. I found out the eye was to ward off evil spirits, specifically the evil eye. I wrote a blog on this.
In I'm Not Wearing Evil Eye Jewelry I talk about how I stick with only Fall themed Halloween decorations now. I got rid of all my ghosts and witches. The demonic world is very deceitful and I find it very terrifying. Having those things around is just inviting the demons into my home and I don't toy with that. I know you might think I'm off my rocker, but I don't care. Better safe than sorry. It's my yardstick though. Not yours. I don't care if you have ghosts hanging from your front porch at Halloween or if you choose to wear evil eye jewelry. That's your deal. If God wants you to change that, He will convict you of it.
Right from wrong:
I recently ordered some items from a European based company. They said they would give me 15% off as a first time customer. So I ordered more than I normally would, but when I went to check out it didn't take the 15% off. I contacted them and they applied the discount to my bill. When I got the items I realized they had taken the 15% off each item and then another 15% off the total. It was my fault. I contacted them to tell them of the error. Years ago I wouldn't have done that. God moved my yardstick.
Compassion for others:
It has taken years but I am way less judgmental than I used to be. I am more giving and understanding towards others. If you know me personally you might think God has a lot of work to do on me and you'd be correct. But when you look at the self-absorbed person I used to be compared to now, you'd be like "Wow!"
I could give you so many more examples of God changing my thinking, but you get the point. The longer I've walked with Christ, things that made me uncomfortable no longer do and things that I was comfortable with now make me very uncomfortable. This process of changing is called sanctification (click on word to read about Christian sanctification.) It is defined as becoming more like Christ. And here's the thing, the Holy Spirit is in charge of the process and also He is in charge of the timetable.
It is the small changes which lead to the big ones. And it takes time. People don't instantaneously change all of their thinking and behavior at the moment they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God has to move their yardstick by which they measure their standard of living.
We keep trying to apply our yardstick to other people's actions. We draw a mark on the yardstick and say if you are above that on an issue or below it on another issue that you are wrong. Shoot, we are all wrong to some degree. None of us are where we are supposed to be on that yardstick of God's standards. Realize that God is working on that person's life just like He has worked and continues to work on yours.
Give others some grace. Trust God to move their yardstick. Let God do the heavy lifting. Let Him do His thing in their lives. You just be a shining light. Love others and pray for them. Be gentle with them. Be a little ray of encouragement for people trying to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord.