The Great Smoke Out

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Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

 

At first it was an odor drifting ever so slightly in the air right before it filled our room with the pungent smell of cigarette smoke. Overwhelming is not the word for it as it overpowered our senses. I checked the hotel website and it was clearly marked non-smoking. Each door has a no smoking sign on the handle where you insert the key. There is a $200.00 cleaning fee posted for anyone who violates the policy. BUT when contacting the front desk about this problem, there is nothing that they apparently can do about it even though they think they know where the problem is arising from no pun intended. The vents in the bathrooms of all three floors are connected so if someone above or below us were to smoke in the restroom, it would make its way to our room this way. It has. At 4:45 AM, we were all awakened again by the horrible odor permeating our room causing stinging eyes and stuffy noses not to mention the horrible smell as my children coughed mid assault. The front desk again expressed helplessness so just after 5:00 AM, we began looking for another hotel. The clerk on the other line assured me that those who do not abide by the “No Smoking” policy are asked to leave immediately. This morning we will load up our belongings and move on.

At first, I was a little angry with the folks below who feel it well within their rights to break the rules. Perhaps, they don’t think they are causing any harm unaware that it is affecting others negatively. Or maybe they feel like $200 cleaning fee is well worth their need to smoke the occasional cigarette. Or maybe the addiction is more powerful than their ability to use self-control and not smoke were it is not permitted. Now rather than angrily knocking on their door or stomping on the bathroom floor, we will quietly pack our belongings and move on. The Lord always works out every detail for our good and has already provided another hotel nicer than the one we are in with a lower rate. They will be cleaning the first available room for an early check-in and have offered all amenities to us now. The present staff has apologized profusely and are refunding last night and discontinuing our reservation without penalty. But all of this has made me wonder, how many times my behavior, attitude or actions have negatively impacted others but I was unaware?

Imitate God in everything you do. I mean after all He gets to live in Heaven and we have to live among other people. Sometimes we forget that we rub people wrong and irritate them just like they do us. To imitate God in EVERYTHING we do means loving others no matter what they do. It means extending grace and forgiveness in all situations even when we are absolutely, positively right. When people act like people, it is not always towards us though we take it personally. Often we do not realize that some of our behaviors actually do impact others in a negative way. Why didn’t they tell me? Why didn’t they do something about it? How will I know? Well, God is pretty clear on our treatment of other people. We are to love them with the Love that He has given us which is pretty extension and unconditional. Jesus laid down His Life so that the Love of God could reach all mankind and we are the conduit of that love. We are to love others like Christ loved the church. When you consider that Christ died for us in our sin, it would mean that even if someone uses us as a doormat that we must still find it in our heart and mind to love and forgive them. This is the kind of life that is a pleasing aroma to God.

John 15:10-14 (NLT)

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

What does it mean to lay our life down for someone else? It means to decide that it is not as important to have what I want as to make way for others to see the Love of God active in me. When I obey His Commandments, I remain in His Love. When I do what the Lord instructs, I am connected to a source of joy that others cannot impact. When I love others, I am being obedient even if they inconvenience my life or cause hardship. When I decide that I am going to live the Word of God, I have decided that I am going to love other people. This is the hardest commandment to follow sometimes because it seems that other people are able to find their way under our skin the quickest. People can be inconsiderate, rude, and downright mean but I am still commanded to love them with the Love of God. I need to make a conscious effort to do so no matter what. I need to follow the rules of love even when they do not. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control over my emotions and how I feel putting all of my expectation in Jesus Christ and not those around me. See when people disappoint us, it is because we have decided that they can do something for us that Christ cannot. When we disobey God’s Word, it means there is disbelief that He will do just what He says. Otherwise, we would follow the Word of God implicitly to have the life of Grace, Goodness, Favor and Blessing it promises. When Jesus Christ becomes the sole source of our life including our mind, will and emotions, suddenly the details of life and treatment of others do not impact us quite as much. The more dependent we grow on Christ the less dependent we are on the world and its outcomes. When we lay down our life for others and “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”, suddenly this world will have less and less of an impact on how we feel and what we do!

Luke 6:27-31 (NLT)

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Not as they do for you, but as you would like them to do. We tell this to our children but somehow forget when we become adults. I want my life to be an offering to God, the kind of offering that blesses His Heart not the mediocre leftover I want to give but the true sacrifice of self that He deserves. I need to be acutely and consciously aware of how I treat EVERYONE that I come in contact with. I need to evaluate every attitude and action with the example of Jesus Christ not what man allows or disallows. The rules of life are posted. To do good means to follow the rules beginning with the Word of God. To love others unconditionally may never be something we can fully understand and express but His Willingness to love us unconditionally and die for us is enough to try right? Lord, make me aware of my attitude and actions today. Show me those things that contradict your Word, Will or Way so I can change them. I ask the Holy Spirit today to help my life be a pleasing aroma to You!

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT)

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

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