1 Peter 2:11-12 – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)
Perhaps because of my Scottish connections, I've long admired a colourful, purple plant, the thistle. So last summer when I discovered a thistle growing out of a pile of rocks, I took a picture. Most of us would see little beauty in this plant — unless you are a true Scot, that is. Even these admirers touch the plant with a certain amount of diplomacy and distance. They've learned from past experience that it's far better to appreciate the thistle from a picture, thus avoiding contact with its prickles.
This reminds me of a newspaper account of a person admired by members of their small community. This man was known for the time that he devoted to raising funds for a certain charity. Prior to this account in the paper, the man had often been invited to meet dignitaries and was looked up to by neighbours and townspeople alike. But upon closer examination, his life wasn't consistent with the part people could see; he had embezzled money and was convicted of other wrongdoings.
I liken the thistle to the lives of people who are trying to live their life without God. To the onlooker, they may look beautiful and be known as moral people. They may even copy the teachings of Christ by doing good deeds for others. Their actions may cause people to admire them, but, on closer examination, one discovers their prickles.
However, it becomes a much more serious matter when we who are Christians display a beautiful flower for others to admire, but, when they come for a closer look, they discover we are full of prickles.
In order for the Christian's life to stand up to the scrutiny of those who stop to admire our flower, we must surrender daily to the work of Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Dear God, forgive us when we have not shown Your Spirit in our lives. Forgive us for the times when people have regarded us with a certain amount of diplomacy and distance; for the times when we've been touchy and shown our prickles. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that others will see our good deeds and glorify You. Amen.