Have you ever read a specific verse in the Bible from a different version and had a profound perspective? This is how I felt after reading Matthew 5:13-16 from the Message. After reading these verses and sharing my thoughts, I sincerely hope it gives clarity and understanding in whatever you do. Read closely because it is also the sole reason on why you and I are here on Earth:
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
MATTHEW 5:13-16 MSG
Salt of the Earth: Be Valuable
In those days, salt was so valuable and useful that it was used as money. Today, America’s sea salt company identified over 14,000 uses of salt. It’s obvious that to live a healthy life, salt must be part of your daily diet. This is how you should be. Be the salt of the earth. Be extremely important in offering value. Here is how to be the salt of the earth:
Be Salt. Preserve the peace in your environment and those around you. Try to be peaceful with all men (at least from your end).
Be Salt. Listen critically and cleanse the impurities. Dissociate from bad people and remove corrupt communication. Do what is right at all times.
Be Salt. Add ‘taste’ and ‘spice’ to the lives of others. Bring the individuality and uniqueness of your mentors, peers and juniors. Be a beacon of positivity and wisdom.
Be Salt. Know your origin. Just as how salts originate from the ocean, know you come from a place of abundance. You are limitless and vast. You are from a source of never-ending wisdom, strength and creativity. Knowing your self-identity also boosts your self-worth.
You are the salt of the Earth. Don’t forget this.
Light of the World: Be Visible
The Sun. The Moon. Electric bulb. Candle. These are symbols of life, tranquillity, innovation and restoration respectively. All because they produce light.
This is who you are. The light of the world. You are never meant to be hidden. People need you to survive. Embrace this philosophy wherever you go. Here is how to be the light of the world:
Be Light. Give life. Let your attitude, actions and words always spread positivity and joy. People should feel energized, encouraged and elated when they see and hear you.
Be Light. Be visible. Share your story. Share your talents in whatever you can. You cannot be hidden. You are meant for the top. Strive with excellence and the urge to learn. Be spectacular in your doings. Always show up strong.
Be Light. Illuminate. Enlighten people around you with your exposure, experience and expertise. Don’t be a lonely light in the midst of darkness because it will eventually consume you. Light others up literally. Always seek ways to bring out the potential in others.
Be Light. Innovate. For instance, the Sun, fire and lighting powered by electricity give us energy, the power to stay active at night and improves our lives at a faster pace. This is how you ought to be. Stay active. Come up with new ideas. Improve constantly. This is the only way you can shine brighter.
I know life is not perfect and throw bad situations at you. There are certain times when you might feel useless, unimportant or confused on what to do with your day or life in general. Or when waves of loneliness or darkness consume your thoughts which in turn affect your attitude and actions.
Please stay strong in those moments. Stay in constant contact with the Creator. Seek advice from positive friends. And one thing is certain.
Never lose sight of who you are. You are Salt and Light.
FAITH. How best can you describe this intangible force with tangible words? I have slightly discussed the theory of faith in a previous post. The good news is we all exhibit faith at every point of our lives. It is that gut feeling and confidence you have in something or someone. It is the belief that something will come to pass at its own time. Strong rooted faith is really indescribable and cannot be fully expressed. But here is a perfect definition of faith:
A similar concept would be defining faith as ‘receipts’ for life purchases. It is what you hold on to before the ‘package’ arrives. If you have ordered a product online, you must know this feeling. When you purchase a product online, you get a confirmation order or receipt that your package is on its way. Most times, you must have inserted your card details and pay even though you have not physically seen your item.
This belief comes from trust in that system. You strongly believe the person at the other end would fulfil his other part of the deal. Your faith in life should be strong and more unwavering than this system. You should wake up and do your work, knowing your ‘package’ (your goals, desires and aspirations) will finally be delivered to you at its time.
However, there are times when your faith wavers. Especially those days when the ‘package’ takes longer periods to land for you. At those moments, it seems delay is gradually turning to denial. Don’t worry. I have got you covered. Here are some tips to stay true to the end:
KNOW YOUR ULTIMATE SOURCE OF FAITH
Yeah. Having faith in temporal things simply leads to constant faltering belief. These temporal things include: your goals, money, health, career, medicine and even your innate wisdom. Having faith in these things is fine. You need to have conviction in them to thrive and become your highest self (being successful in all aspects of your life). However, there should be a central anchor of faith on which your other convictions rely on.
That anchor is God through his Son, Jesus Christ. Yes dear, he is your rock on which you should firmly build your house on. He is the ‘delivery guy’ who always delivers at the appointed time. Learn to trust in Him.
IDENTIFY YOUR MAJOR SOURCES OF DISTRACTION
There’s a reason we must specifically identify major sources of distractions. This is because the only way you avoid all interferences today is to live in a cave disconnected from people, the internet and the entire world. (Even the wandering mind can still be a distraction at this point).
So here is what you can do. Take your time to identify the major activities that distracts you and causes your faith to waver on certain days. Then unplug them. Or readjust them in a way that boosts your faith and resolve.
For instance, in the past few months, I discovered a major source of my distractions. Social media. I was always online. And it began to affect my mental health and outlook towards life: Unhealthy Twitter trends and threads (it’s shocking how some people are ready to ruin others in the name of banter and grammar correction).
This app is too sensitive for me. You could say I love my life and suicidal people would get offended.
TWEET FROM @qgatss (chivo) –
The seemingly endless Instagram feed. Overwhelming information on Facebook (I was in so many knowledge-sharing groups and communities. I forgot to share my own knowledge or apply most of them I learnt on a daily basis)
Yeah. Those were my major sources of distractions. Here is what I did:
I started slowly by setting countdown timers on my dominant social media apps (for example Twitter – 1 hour, Instagram – 30 minutes, Facebook – 30 minutes, WhatsApp – 1 hour 30 minutes) Once the allotted time elapsed, the specific app shuts down for the rest of the day. Achieve this strategy through ‘Digital well-being and parental control’ on Android OS. P.S: I must admit I removed the timers on some days, but the discipline got stronger as the weeks went by.
I eventually uninstalled the apps. It felt unnatural at that time. But I did it at the end.
After setting up a plan on how to manage my social media, I re-installed Instagram and created a new account (which you can FOLLOW HERE). With this new page, I was now deliberate with whom I follow and the content I create and consume. The plan is to replicate this tactic with other social media platforms.
In sum, everyone has a way of managing their major distractions. Just make sure you do what suits you. Identify. Then unplug.
STRIVE TO BECOME THE MEN OF OLD
This sounds very strange, right? Advising you to be like ancient men when there are so many successful people to emulate today sounds absurd. Yet, what you learn from the people of old are their core values, principles and astounding faith. In this context, the people of old are the successful individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11:4-35.
The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
HEBREWS 11:2 MSG
To imitate them, through your faith:
Pursue excellence like Abel
Stand apart like Enoch
Prepare ahead like Noah
Believe till the end like Abraham and Sarah
Understand the power of your words like Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
Sacrifice every other thing for the right reason like Moses
Seek peace like Rahab
Yeah. This is the end. Do all the above and experience stronger bouts of faith as modern millennials. Cheers.
Earlier this year, I had a burden in my heart. Maybe it’s something that has crossed your mind too. Let me explain. This will greatly help your therapy techniques too.
Have you ever felt you were made for something greater? Yeah. Exactly. Like you feel you deserve to be a king with your entourage and different people respecting your opinions. I’m sorry, let me leave this medieval analogy and say something more relatable.
There are moments when I have felt I should be more successful than my current status. For instance, I ought to be earning six figures (in foreign currency) annually with my level of expertise and exposure. Or specifically, I ought to have my own place with several investments in strategic positions. Or I am supposed to be outside my home country whilst sending money to my parents, my younger brother and my cousins.
Maybe it’s different for you. You should have got that car by now. You ought to be running a successful business. Or is it possible that you are not married because you have not seen ‘the one’? Or you hate your current job but still need that pay at the end of the month to survive. It’s also possible you have so many dreams and goals to achieve but you don’t have money to execute them.
All these things get crazier when you realize you have a sense of responsibility not just for yourself, but also for people around you. These guys are looking up to you to quickly ‘blow’ and be successful.
Hehehe. Let’s not get started on social media; the place where everyone is successful, accomplished and happy and you feel left out. You post your happy moments for two days and feel worthless for the remaining days of the week. I think I have gone overboard but you get the point.
Don’t worry. It’s not gloomy. I found a solution later this year and it’s the reason I wrote this article. We are not here to rant about our struggles; we are here to learn how to triumph today. I got these insights for self-therapy from the opening verse of Psalms 37 in the Bible (Thank you Holy Spirit). Here are the steps he is telling you and me.
1. DON’T DO WHAT IS WRONG
Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
PSALMS 37:3 NKJV
As weird as it sounds, every human has a foundation of wrong and right. However, the more wrongs you do, the more you deaden your conscience. Afterwards, you begin to justify the sins you perpetuate on a daily basis. (Sorry, dear, I am not here to judge you but you know what I’m saying. After all, Only God can judge you and me)
That’s why you need to place your allegiance with Him. Like the verse at the opening of this step, you have to trust in the Lord while doing good. Note the next verbs on the same verse (Psalms 37:3) are ‘Dwell’ and ‘Feed’. This means trusting the Lord is a continuous process. It’s a daily habit because the flesh is really weak and the world is so filled with sweet pleasures.
I hope you get the point I’m trying to make here. We can only fix our unbalanced lives by trusting in the Lord and doing good.
2. DON’T RUSH ANYTHING
Apparently, you might not fully understand the second part of Psalms 37:3. Let me spell it out.
Even though I run out of it a lot, I still feel patience is the most underrated virtue. Who else doesn’t want to skip the process and just reap the benefits at the end? But there’s a caveat emptor when you try this.
The path of skipping the process often leads to destruction. Yes, Life has been rigged in this aspect. The weird part is when you resort to devious and sinful means to reach your rewards, the consequences will still catch up with you. Whether in the latter stages of youthfulness or old age, you eventually reap what you sowed at the beginning.
So once again, dwell in the land. Stay in His Presence. Feed on His faithfulness. Meditate and feel the Creator’s love. Show reverence to Him constantly. Life becomes more satisfying and gratifying when you do this alongside your therapy.
3. DON’T RUN YOUR RACE BY YOURSELF
Delight yourself also in the LORD. And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
PSALMS 37:4 NKJV
Life has always been likened to a race. You have your own timeline and journey during your time on Earth. While getting up to celebrate and appreciate life, we often grab the day in our hands and live as we please. Here is the bitter truth. Especially since it concerns your personal therapy.
This life is not yours. Well, it is still yours when you have not given your life to Christ. But the moment you become a Christian, your life is no longer yours (You gave it to Him literally when you get saved). It is the only way to experience the full glory and experience of God here on earth while waiting for the best moments in eternity.
In sum, don’t run the race of life by yourself. You have God who is always ready to lead, assist and sustain you for all the days of your life.
Hold on. You are getting to the best part.
4. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Remember the illustration of life being a race? Well, sometimes you can get distracted when you look at another person’s ‘lane’. We often get disconnected when we hear and see the successes of other people especially if we consider them to be our “peers.”
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.
PSALMS 37:7 NKJV
The verse above (Psalms 37:7) says “Do not fret.” The Message puts this verse as ‘being unbothered with those who climb the ladder.’ I have felt this way towards some people. That pang of slight jealousy when a random young person succeeds. Especially if you know he acquired the sudden wealth through dishonest means. Or if you feel you are more intelligent more than the person (Lord forgive us for these thoughts).
God reminds us it is fine. He has a road map uniquely designed for you. I have my own path. Just keep being diligent at it and ask God questions when you seem lost. The big man upstairs is ready to answer you. God remains the best therapy.
5. DON’T FRET
Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret – it only causes harm
PSALMS 37:8 NKJV
To fret is to be worried or develop anxiety. Please don’t do this. Fretting often causes harm to your mental health and never truly solves the problem. Here is a quick tip:
Whenever you’re faced with a difficult problem; pause, reflect and ask God for his opinions. Wait patiently rather than freaking out. I have made some bad decisions in the spirit of anxiety and I regretted them.
Confused on implementing this while doing self-therapy? Stop fretting and start placing your situations before God.
6. DON’T BE ARROGANT
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more… But the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace
Contrary to popular belief, Arrogance is not confidence. It comes from a place of excessive pride. Arrogance is negative confidence which leads to contempt or disrespect for others. In recent times, there has been blurry lines defining confidence, arrogance, niceness and meekness. However, there are clear distinctions.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT OR ARROGANT?
Confidence is a feeling of certainty. When you are confident, it means you have firm trust and belief in someone or something. Arrogance is being extremely confident in yourself while ruining others. When you are arrogant, you could be self-confident but you disrespect those around you either with your attitude or actions. This is not healthy therapy at all.
ARE YOU NICE OR MEEK?
The same principle goes for niceness and meekness. Niceness is being friendly and respecting others to the extent of being trampled and ridiculed. When you are nice, you respect others and remain passive whenever opposing ideologies and beliefs come your way. This is not healthy.
In contrast, meekness comes from harnessing your life with wisdom. When you are meek, your strength comes from self-control and discipline. You are assertive without being aggressive. Firmness without being oppressive. You are confident without being arrogant. This is true strength. This is healthy living.
I really hope these definitions are clear as it affects your personal and spiritual therapy as a whole. Because it is important to know if you are confident, arrogant, nice or meek.
The truly meek person is strong enough to front up and face anything that is not in line with God’s will, and is given the resources to do it in a non-threatening manner.
Every Day with Jesus (24 July 2020 edition)
Yeah. So that’s it. Whenever you feel crises, anxiety, peer pressure or the need to compete negatively; follow these six wise steps:
Don’t do what is wrong. Do good.
Don’t rush anything. Be patient.
Don’t run your race by yourself. Learn to trust in the Lord.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Follow God for your unique path.
Don’t fret. Face your situations with God at the forefront.
Don’t be arrogant. Be meek.
These steps have an eternal perspective as they are all based on the Bible. I wish you all the best.
What will you do now? Let me know in the comments below.