Anxiety, suffering and stress are all around us; in fact, sometimes within us. Sadly, there are some that wrestle with these issues more than others. In my life, I have wrestled somewhat with these, but the older I have gotten, as my faith in God has grown, they have almost entirely gone away. I thank the Lord for that. But I know that is not always the case. There are some that, for whatever reason, continue to struggle.
But there have been a number of occasions where I have sensed the anxiety and stress that Christians experience, are probably somewhat self-inflicted, the result of living in disobedience to God and somehow thinking that they can get away with it. People around them may not know, but they aren’t getting away with “it,” they are dealing with the crippling effects of it.
Maybe someone has come to mind. That person who just can’t seem to get their life together. It seems they move from crisis to crisis, while paying lip service to God’s love and mercy, but clearly far from experiencing it.
These are often the consequences for those living in disobedience. But this is not God’s design… far from it. He wants more for each of us,
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: Romans 2:8–10. KJV
We have already reviewed what Paul says are the consequences to those who live in disobedience. But follow what Paul outlines for those who obey God and are walking accordingly.
First, he says that they will have glory. Doxa is the exact word Paul chose and it seems the New Testament hijacks it and creates its own meaning for the word, different than other Greek writings. Usually it refers to “divine and heavenly radiance,” and “loftiness and majesty” of God. The context seems to lead us to believe it is more related to the former, divine and heavenly radiance. Giving glory to God yes, but the focus is more on God’s radiance displayed on the life and maybe even countenance of those who walk in Him. I believe that kind of walk is visible.
A few months ago, my wife and I had dinner at a nice restaurant in a city where I was going to be preaching the next day. After we sat down, I noticed a man cooking in the kitchen, just over my wife’s shoulder. Usually it would have gone unnoticed, but his smile was infectious. He was smiling, jovial and winsome to all the others in the kitchen. It definitely stood out, and after I thought about it, he actually looked familiar. It turned out that he was a “friend” of mine on social media, we had met years before while I spoke at the same church.
I messaged him to make sure it was him and sure enough it was him. I didn’t even think it was possible, but his smile got even bigger. Throughout the night servers brought us extra courses and dessert samples, complements of the chef, and each server, clearly unbeliever after unbeliever shared their love for the chef. Each told me about the things he says and does that make them want to know more about God. His life “radiated” God. His testimony, his walk, radiate the Glory of God and it’s not fake. You can’t even fake the radiance of God.
This is the first thing Paul shares that we can expect when we walk close to God. The second is honor, or worth. Let’s face it, one of the big issues people face is related to worth, their self-worth. And when we walk close to God, our life does have value, it does count, it does have meaning. Worth (honor) erases much of the doubt and anxiety we often have and replaces it with proper confidence that we only receive from a right standing with God.
Finally, Paul addresses what perhaps is the most sought-after desire of mankind … peace. Paul says it’s possible, you can have it, but only when you are in a right relationship with Him. Only then can true peace be found.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
October 25, 2022