“For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” -Revelation 12:12
Have you noticed that whenever you start getting closer to Christ, things get really difficult? A toxic ex-boyfriend pops up promising to do better this time, a temptation or old addiction seems to be everywhere, or your little sister starts driving you nuts until you lose your temper. Whatever your weakness is, it seems to abound.
Because the enemy doesn’t go after lukewarm Christians or unbelievers with the same gusto as he does with those who are actually growing in their faith. His goal is to take out as many Christ followers as possible while we’re on this earth. And seeing us making an effort to follow God makes us a threat to his mission.
But you must remain strong in the face of the enemy’s efforts to derail you or tempt you away from Christ with empty, shiny promises. Keep your eye on the prize – keep growing and moving forward, because our time here is only temporary. Be the kind of woman who when you get out of bed, the devil has to start working double time – knowing that to be able to knock you down would take extraordinary measures because you are that deeply rooted in your faith.
Darling, I know it’s difficult sometimes. It’s hard to stay faithful when everyone around you seems to be living as they please with no worries or fear of God. You doubt your beauty because you’re not covered in a facade of makeup, fitness trends and the latest clothing trends. The snapchats of your friends partying while you’re at home on your own make your heart hurt. A bad breakup because you refuse to have sex threatens your resolve to save yourself for marriage. Or maybe the pain of an illness, the death of a loved one, job layoffs and finals week have worn you down to the core.
Because when it seems like you’re the only one living a set-apart life in a world running so quickly away from God, there are moments when you wonder if it’s worth it.
In those moments, I encourage you to read (and memorize!) this passage:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple.
And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'” -Revelation 7:8, 14-17
Reading this always gives me chills. That is what is waiting for us, y’all, when we reach those heavenly gates. This is worth it, so please don’t give up. Stay the path till the very end.
These letters to the seven churches have a common theme: good works. After looking at each church’s weakness and considering their works, God calls them to do something. From one church, he asks for repentance and to return to their first love. From another He tells them that who keep His works until the end, will receive power over the nations.
In a world so focused on the concept of grace, works are often shoved on the same shelf where we keep our disdain for legalistic religion – out of date and better left in the Old Testament. We know our good works won’t save us, and so we discount their worth. But its a lot like saying that eating healthy won’t stop you from dying – although its true, if you eat healthy, you improve the quality of your life. Because what we eat determines our energy levels and our physical appearance.
Similarly, our works determine how God and the world perceive us. Jesus said that by our love, the world will know that we are His children. Love is not a verb though – it’s an action. Love is works. And it pleases our God to look down on this earth and see His children doing His good works. Because although grace covers a multitude of sins, He still gives each of according to our works (v.23). Not because we earn blessings, but because like any parent who is pleased by their children’s good behavior, He wants to bless us for our obedience.
As John wrote to the church at Ephesus: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil…and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary” (v.2).
God sees your works – they either please Him or they don’t. So, out of our great love for Him, let us do our best to make sure that the good works outweigh the bad works.