School, busyness, exhaustion..

If I were to ask you one question: what are you struggling with now? I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of teenagers say: school work, time management… etc. And the fact is: you’re definitely not alone. 

As teenagers in our stressful school lives, we would nearly always, if not always, find ourselves trapped in the math exam we all cram for, or grinding on the 1000 word essay due soon, or trying to keep our heavy eyes awake while watching Eddie Woo’s videos in the middle of the night. (Admit it, we’ve all done that before 🙂

Our school teaches us how to study, how to manage our time, and how to create study plans. But there’s something that school doesn’t usually teach us and that is: our motivation. Here’s another question: what is the purpose of us studying? Is it to get that A grade? Get that top rank/mark for the class? Pressure from family? To save you from regret later on? Whether it’s just one of these listed or all of them, is this really the right motivation we should aim for? 

When we think about it, when we choose our motivations to be like the examples listed before, we will find ourselves in an endless cycle of dissatisfaction. Not only that, the stress of school will always bite on us and haunt our dreams, after we get the mark we want, we want to get the rank we want, we want the ATAR, we want the desired uni and the much-wanted job. What else do we want? It will never end.

So then, the question becomes: what should be our motivation? The answer to this may seem a bit cliche, something we’ve been hearing a lot and definitely easier said than done. It lies in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

How do we do this?

It is when we start studying and thinking of our assessments with a God-centered mindset, rather than a self-centered one. 

Instead of thinking: I’m studying to get the top mark and rank, we think: I will study so I can glorify God.

Instead of thinking: I want to get good grades to prove my intelligence to my friends, we think: I want people to see the God that is working in me, even through things like assessments, the One who deserves all the praise.

Instead of thinking: I don’t want to regret not studying when I get marks back, we think: all the study I am doing now is for God, and whatever the result may be, to God be the glory. It is when we start to change our mindsets, that we will be able to see beyond our grades, and intelligence.

This is something that I personally struggle with. I often get caught up in my busy life, investing in my studies a bit too much. And sometimes, I don’t even get the mark I want. Then I’d have the thoughts, what’s the point of studying this hard if the marks I want are never even guaranteed? And exactly that is the problem. I am relying on something that is not guaranteed. However, if we learn to rely on God instead, the moment we realise that all the glory should be given to Him, marks won’t feel like our “everything” anymore. 

Dealing with busyness

Assessment overload seems like a “normal” thing now. We get assessments, homework on top of that, extracurricular, and the rest of our life struggles, you name them. I myself can relate to this and have experienced it countless times. 

Through these times I have learnt to surrender it all to God no matter how impossible it may seem at that moment. When I look back, I can see how God has guided me through each exam I sit through and every assessment I submit. My marks and grades become irrelevant when compared to God’s leading. 

Through these busy times, pray that we may find peace in Him and that we can “be still and know that [He] is God.” (Psalm 46:10). Pray that we may still be reminded each day of the motivation to do all our schoolwork for God’s glory.

Dancing in Love, for Eternity

Intro:

It all started a few weeks ago when I was sitting down at home doing some maths homework. As many of my fellow hikers of the ‘Year 11’ mountain may know, homework isn’t a walk in the park anymore. Persevering through the mountainous exercises and perilous questions due that night, I finally thought I was reaching the summit of polynomials and differentiation. But suddenly, out of the blue, my back neighbour starts blaring a song at max volume (or at least it feels like it) just when I thought I had ascended the mountain of all calculus.

Annoyed that my transient moment of genius had been intruded, I decided to take a break from my cordillera of mathematics and listen to what song they were beginning to sing.

Oh I wAnNa DaNcE wItH sOmEbOdY

I wAnNa FeEl ThE hEaT wItH sOmEbOdY

YeAh I wAnNa DaNcE wItH sOmEbOdY

WiTh SoMeBoDy WhO lOvEs Me

Marvelling at how all my windows were still intact from the siege of sound waves that had barraged my ears, I realised that this song paints a vivid story that I’ll explore in this article.

The song, if you haven’t figured it out already, is Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. Houston was born on August 9th, 1963. She grew up in a church and, in short, she was a very talented singer from the start. She debuted performing at her church with the hymn: “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” and her career only went up from there. Her second album’s first single, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 17 countries and she even won a Grammy for it. Unfortunately, in the later years of her life, she became involved in drug abuse and sadly passed away on February 11th, 2012. The last song she performed in public was “Jesus, Loves Me”.

In this article, we’ll trek through this pinnacle of Houston’s music and shed a new light on its lyrics to understand ourselves better.

Verse 1:

Clock strikes upon the hour

And the sun begins to fade

Still enough time to figure out

How to chase my blues away

I’ve done alright up ’till now

It’s the light of day that shows me how

And when the night falls, loneliness calls

This story starts with us. We’re down and we’re sad because it seems like no one really loves us. We’re lonely and we have no idea what to do with this. What we need is for someone to love us!

We’ve tried looking, so long that it’s now the end of the day. In fact, this becomes our story everyday. We’ve looked for that love in games, in friends, in relationships – but nothing seems to fill that longing we have in our heart.

But what can we do? It’s fine, right? Maybe that’s how life is supposed to be… we’ll just stuff this desire away and figure it out later. We’re fine on our own – we don’t need other people!

Anyways, we still have time to figure it all out… right?

Chorus:

Oh, I wanna dance with somebody

I wanna feel the heat with somebody

Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody

With somebody who loves me

In reality, this love is all we want and need! We can’t rest without it! It’s out there somewhere – in someone, in something! We want to be with the people who love us. We want to meet that one person we can ‘dance with’. The person who really loves us. We want to find that thing that fills our heart’s deepest desire, something that we will want to spend all our time with, the thing.

Verse 2: 

I’ve been in love and lost my senses

Spinning through the town

Sooner or later, the fever ends

And I wind up feeling down

I need a man who’ll take the chance

On a love that burns hot enough to last

So when the night falls

My lonely heart calls

YES! We’ve found that one person who loves us dearly! We’ve finally got that one object that fulfils our deepest desire. There’s nothing more that we want or need! Right?

But soon, we find that feeling of love fades away just as quickly…

It all happened so quickly, and we find that all it does is just make us feel worse than before.

From our dream crush to our dream ATAR – they’re all still there, but we still feel empty and lonely inside. The love we first experienced doesn’t feel the same anymore – the first joy we had has now disappeared.

We need someone who’ll take the chance for us, despite our many failures – someone who’s love will go on forever and never falter. But where can we find this?

Bridge:

Somebody who, somebody who

Somebody who loves me yeah

Somebody who, somebody who

To hold me in his arms oh

I need a man who’ll take the chance

On a love that burns hot enough to last

So when the night falls

Someone reaches out to us! He reaches out to us with a love that is like no other. It’s the fulfilling love that we’ve wanted from the start. He’s a man who took a chance even while we were still sinners, who even died to save us. His love burns hot enough to last for all eternity. But on His deathbed, when He reaches out His hand to finally hold us, all He asks is that we love Him back completely.

At this request, we clench our fists and turn our back. We say to his face: “What is your love for me? What is your sacrifice to me? I’m better off with all the other things that I have. Why would I ever love you?”

To our friends, we mock and scorn him. In front of them, we say, “All these other things that never gave me full pleasure are better than the eternal love that this man has for me.”

His eternal love is nothing to us; instead, we’d rather go back to our old loves that never truly satisfied us.

Outro:

To clarify, I am not sure whether Whitney Houston was a Christian when she wrote this song, and this whole ‘interpretation’ of this song is my own. It’s probably completely different to the meaning of the original song, but the whole purpose of this ‘comparison’ was not to compare human romantic love with Jesus’ love for us. It was to help us get a sense of how beyond our comprehension Jesus’ love for us is. In fact, it’s a different love altogether (see my article on Jesus love – https://regenerationz.org/do-you-really-love-jesus/).

We often try to find love in the things of this world – in relationships, games, academics, money etc. But none of these things truly satisfy us. In fact, they fade away and leave us worse than when we started. Still, we persist to trick ourselves into thinking we can fulfil our deepest desire with the things of the world.

Sometimes we do get the thing we want or the love that we desire. We finally feel satisfied and at peace. But in the end, as time goes on, we lose that initial love we had for them as they slowly fade away. People leave, temporarily and permanently. Things break and can never be used again.

But, withstanding the storms of time, stands the eternal love of Jesus. This love didn’t come cheap either. It was Jesus that ‘took a chance’ when he came to earth to live and die for us. Yet, when we see this eternal love, we turn our backs and prefer our temporary, unsatisfying loves of the world.

How long will you dwell content with the transient things of the world? How long will you keep thinking they can satisfy that hole in your heart?

Blaise Pascal once said:

“There is a God-shaped vacuum [hole] in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

Will you let God fill that hole today?

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

The Three Signs of A Christian

If you were passing by Town Hall last Saturday, you might have glimpsed some bright orange shirts and a big sign with the words – Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong Gospel Rally 2024. 

Just last week, we at IREC Sydney were blessed to receive God’s Word from Dr. Stephen Tong who is currently touring Australia in what might be his last gospel rally. Dr Stephen Tong is a servant of the Lord who has been greatly used in a variety of fields, from the ministry to promoting the quality of culture in Indonesia and China. Today’s article is a reflection on what I’ve learnt from his sermon, and I hope it can bless you as it blessed me. 

All that aside, back to the topic of signs.  

There are some things in life that are simply universal. Try picturing this: a red background, with a bright yellow M on top. It’s pretty easy to guess what brand this sign belongs to. 

Almost everywhere we go, we’re confronted with signs that let us recognize what lies inside. From that bright yellow M that sits on red, to those red and white stripes featuring a very familiar old man (you can tell I’m feeling a bit peckish), it’s easy to see how important signs are. 

So, what are the signs of a Christian? 

1. Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-34)

Love. It’s one of those words that have been used so many times that its meaning has almost been lost along the way. Every song, book, movie, and even person has their own definition of love – how do we even begin to navigate them all? 

The Greeks had eight words to categorize the different loves we experience. We won’t go through them all in today’s article, but there’s one love they identify that’s the most special and unique of them all. Agape: 

Unconditional. That’s what really sets this love apart. 

Usually, we love based on the merit of the objects of our affection. We love to lavish our love on things we see as cute, beautiful, perfect, awe-inspiring, extraordinary; things that are ‘love-worthy’ and that are better than us. When we see these – a favorite movie, an idol, a crush – we’re filled with joy and affection, and we’d do almost anything for it. After all, they deserve our love. 

But the unique thing about agape – God’s love – is that it’s wholly underserved. No one is higher than God, and He is perfectly content in the holy love of the Triune God. He doesn’t need to love us. But He chooses to love us – those who are far lower than Him, and who don’t deserve His love. In fact, we reject it and throw it away for what we think can bring us happiness, trading the grandest castle for sandcastles that are so easily washed away in the rain. 

And even so, His love pursues us, even to the point of the cross. Giving up His Father’s love in exchange for His wrath, all that we may receive true underserved mercy and love from Him. 

Undeserved love. 

Unconditional love. 

And it is this love that Christ teaches us to love others with. If we loved others according to how much we love God, it wouldn’t be a very consistent standard – oftentimes, our fervor for God depends on our mood or the trials we face. Many times, the length of our mealtime prayers fluctuate depending on how hungry we are! 

But that’s not what God teaches us. Rather, he tells us to love others just like how He loved us first. Forigiving others just like how He forgave us first. Serving others just like He served us first. 

This principle is aptly expressed in the following verses of Matthew 25:30-40. I won’t be going through these verses extensively in today’s article, but I truly hope you can take the time to read these verses for yourself. May we, along with His disciples, be able to hear these words from the One who loved us first – ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The first sign of a Christian is love. 

Unconditional love for the undeserving. 

2. Eager witness

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Say there was this amazing restaurant that had just opened in your neighborhood – not only does it serve the most delicious food you’d ever tasted, but it does so at an impossibly low price! You wouldn’t keep this great news all to yourself, right? It’s much more likely we’d be posting all about it and sharing the news with as many people as we know. Sharing our joy with others, that others may enjoy it too 

Why is it that we often do not have this same attitude towards the Good News? 

The Good News is more than good: it’s the best news in the world for broken sinners! The Good News promises unconditional and unlimited peace and joy – all for free. 

Why then do we keep it to ourselves? In the Bible, there are countless examples of eager witnesses who unashamedly seek to share the good news they recieve. Take the Samaritan woman in John 4 as an example. As soon as she experiences the life-giving water that Jesus offers, she immediately rushes into her town and shouts, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” See the transformation in this woman’s life? Before, she was trapped under the shame of her sinful life, hiding away and avoiding others, and even willing to come to the well for water in the sweltering noontime heat if only to avoid the scorn of the other woman. But now, look at her. Never mind any embarrassment. Never mind other people’s scorn. 

May we have the same energy and passion to bring others to taste the same grace and life and joy we enjoy. 

I won’t pretend that evangelizing is going to be easy, or that those you evangelize to will accept your message. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be counter-cultural. There will be sacrifices. There will be scorn. 

This is why we must hold on tightly to these two things: the grace of the Holy Spirit, and a firm foundation in God’s Word. The only way we can have culture-defying courage is through the power of the Holy Spirit – and the only way we can tell others about His Word is by knowing His Word in the first place. 

But, I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) 

3. Fruitful

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” (Luke 6:43-44). 

From a young age, we’ve been taught to name a tree based on the fruit it produces. A tree with apples is an apple tree, a tree with oranges is an orange tree, and so on. And, in the same way, others know us through the fruits that we produce. 

Try reflecting back on the past week, or even just yesterday. Was the fruit of your life – something that others keep coming back to enjoy? Could your family, friends, peers, community taste the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in your life? Or was the fruit bitter or prickly to taste instead? 

When a tree bears fruit, not only do we know what kind of tree it is, but we also know that the tree is alive. It’s healthy – its roots dig deep into the water that is its source of life. So, as Christians, how can we grow, let alone bear fruit, if we are not rooted in God’s Word? Grow strong and daring, and healthy. Then, when others see the tree that flourishes and stands tall through winds and storms, they’ll start to look for the source of water that sustains you so. 

Even as I write these final words, there’s this one song from Sunday School that comes to mind. It’s a hymn by Baylus B. McKinney, called “Let Others See Jesus in You”, and I feel its words are a fitting encouragement and reminder. 

Let others see Jesus in you,

Let others see Jesus in you;

Keep telling the story, be faithful and true,

Let others see Jesus in you.

Can others see Jesus in me? 

Do others see Jesus in you?

I truly pray that it may be so. 

Reality of Suffering

Poverty, natural disasters, abuse, pain, sickness… death. Or grief, frustration, hatred, bitterness, heartbreak, anxiety… The list goes on and on. What exactly am I listing? I’m sure we all know that these are all the common things that we label under the word “suffering.”

Our human minds would automatically think of suffering as something bad, brutal and the complete opposite of joy. Suffering is, “the state undergoing pain, distress, or hardship” as the Oxford Dictionary states.

“If God is so good, why does he let bad things happen?”

Have you ever wondered why such things have to happen? It just seems like something useless in our lives, only dragging us down and bringing into our lives pain, distress and hardship. But is it really? Or are we viewing suffering in the wrong way? 

A familiar question I am sure everyone has asked at some point in their lives is: “If God is so good, why does he allow suffering to happen?” But I want to ask a question back in response: Are we asking the right question? 

After all, who are we to even ask such questions? By asking this, we are implying that we – sinful, evil, unworthy human beings – deserve anything other than the wrath of God. What makes us think that we deserve any good or for our lives to be smooth sailing? We, with our self-centred and selfish minds,  only ask this question because we judge God based on how well he meets our desires for our lives. Our suffering is the result of the fall; the result of the free will we have abused and because of our sin, this world is broken. As harsh as this may sound, this is the reality of the world, and the reality of how we so often view God. We forget the most fundamental attribute of God: His holiness. This attribute is present in all the other attributes. Meaning, His love if holy, His justice is holy, His grace is holy… etc. He absolutely cannot face us, sinful and wicked human beings and must therefore punish our sin in His holy justice.

Why is suffering important?

As we continue to run towards Christ during hard times, we will certainly grow closer to God. Think of it this way: if there is nothing hard or bad going on in our life, and everything is going perfectly according to plan, would we find the need to seek God? Just as James 1:3-4 says, “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” After every struggle you go through,  look back to see how God has guided you and shaped you through it. Each trial will solidify your belief and trust in God, drawing you closer and closer to Him.

When we look at all Jesus’ disciples, we can see they all lived lives of suffering: Peter and Andrew was crucified, Bartholomew was beheaded, James was executed with a sword, John was boiled alive, Thomas was speared and a lot more happened to the rest of the disciples. We can see that their lives were filled with suffering and countless trials and spiritual battles. However, they found something of even more value than the suffering they experienced on earth because their eyes fixed on something beyond what they saw. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The glory that comes after is incomparable to any suffering we will experience on earth.

Is that the end?

God doesn’t just leave us to suffer alone. Remember this one thing: God will never place suffering or tribulation in our lives too hard for us to handle. This is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” No matter how hard of a tribulation we are going through, there will always be a way out: through obedience towards God.

Christ left us an example of how to live during suffering. Christ, who had to drink from the cup of God’s wrath, underwent the worst, most shameful punishment that no one else in history had ever experienced –  even though he didn’t deserve it. These are known to be the darkest hours in history because it was truly God’s wrath on Christ; the worst suffering a man could ever experience. However, his obedience towards God drove him to complete His task and his purpose on Earth up till that critical point on the cross. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

With this in mind, we must learn to rejoice in our sufferings and to remember to have our eyes always fixed on the cross in whatever hard times we are going through. Going back to our original question, I hope we can all wonder instead at another question: how can God be so gracious and loving to us, sinful human beings who deserve nothing other than His wrath?

Erin Kurnia (14) is one of the writers for RE Generation-Z. She hopes that by God’s grace, she can write to spread the Truth and happiness to others, that they too may be children of God living in the light. You will find that she really enjoys playing piano, baking, sewing and designing.

On Talents

Talents. Our natural gifts or abilities, ranging from playing music, expertise in sport or writing articles. But why do talents matter? Why should we bother with thinking about them or even cultivating them?

It’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately. At the school that I attend, we  did a few surveys and tests to find out what our different strengths, weaknesses and talents were. Although the context was to help us pick what HSC subject to do, I was surprised (and not surprised) about some of the results it gave me.

These aptitude and talent tests cost money – and it struck me – why does the school bother spending money on tests like these? Why couldn’t the school just let us figure it out ourselves? Why would they put money, time and effort into setting these up for students? Because knowing our talents is vital to be able to live life to its fullest in serving God.

Now obviously not everyone’s raison d’etre is to serve God, but in any case, it’s important to consider what your purpose in life is and how your natural abilities and gifts fit into it. After doing a little research, I found that science says that talents are a mix of both genetics and the environment we live in. This means that your socioeconomic status and place in the world defines how talented you are. If you’re born rich and have good genes, you have a greater chance of being smarter.

I’d like to clarify that I’m not saying that your situation financially will not affect your cultivation of talents. It will almost certainly impact it. But that should not be the hindrance to us and be used as an excuse.

To a Christian, talents are not just a result of our situations and genetic patterns. Talents are a gift from God. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of the parable of the talents. In the parable, there are three servants which are given different amounts of ‘talents’; one was given five, another given three and the last given one. Talents, in this case, aren’t literally talents as we know them. Talents were a monetary measurement, worth about 20 years’ wage of a labourer in Jesus’ time. The master basically asked the servants to cultivate and increase the money he had given them. At the end of a long time, the master came back to check with his servants and the servants with five and three talents had cultivated their portion well – this pleased the master. On the other hand, the one with only one talent became lazy and didn’t do anything. In the end, he was punished for not using the talents he was given, even though he only had one.

What can we learn from this? That God is a harsh master who forces us to do work? If we read this literally, that is definitely a conclusion that we could get to. But no, that isn’t what God is like. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean we should slack around and not do anything about our God given gifts.

If we think back to ourselves, how can we work hard with the gifts that God has given us? In James 1:17, James writes that:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”

God’s talents for us are good and for our benefit. We are encouraged to use them to their fullest, even though they are different in quality and quantity. As Romans 12:6 says:

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

It doesn’t matter who you are – every person has talents. At the same time, we all have a different number and types of talents, yet they are all still God given. No other talent is more important than the other.

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

– This article is inspired by Erin. There is something about you that inspires me to also do my best in my ministries. I’ve learnt from you to be grateful for the one or two talents God gives us. Always remember, no talent is ‘greater and more useful’ than another. Instead, we all work together as one body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–14)

Wisdom or Knowledge?

How would you define the word “wisdom”? What is it, and why is it so important to us? One of the most common things people compare wisdom to is knowledge. Even when I look up the synonyms of wisdom, the most common words found are intelligence, understanding, insight and perception. However, as much as it seems accurate, wisdom is way deeper and far more important than all of those. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and importance of wisdom and discover how to become wiser ourselves, through several verses from the book of wisdom itself, the Bible.

What is wisdom?

So, what is wisdom exactly? And how is it any different to knowledge?

To us, human beings with such limited understanding, the word wisdom appeals to us as knowledge. However, the Hebrew word for wisdom,  “CHOKMAH” (חָכְמָה)  means way more than the mere knowledge that we would think of it as. This word refers not only to mental knowledge but also action or applied knowledge. As Charles Spurgeon would say, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Let’s look at several verses from the book full of wisdom itself – most of which are from Proverbs, a book that speaks of wisdom in great depth.

  1. The wise can always be wiser.

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

  and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

  • Proverbs 9:9-10

One principle that we should keep is that becoming wise isn’t just a point in your life that you reach, and then stop. The wise can always be wiser, no matter how wise this person is. Becoming wiser takes more – it’s a life-long process. The fact that King Solomon, one of the wisest Kings of all time, still made plenty of mistakes and committed many sins despite his great wisdom, proves that the wise still have plenty of things to learn through the fear of the Lord

To become wise means that we have to learn to fear God. To fear the Lord means giving your undivided attention to God and always directing your heart towards God; to be more Christ-centered. May we pray the same prayer in Psalm 86 – to fear God more and grow in wisdom. 

  1. Living a wise life.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

  • Ephesians 5:5-7

Through this verse, Paul urges us to be very careful in the way we live. We must ensure that the ways of our life are not unwise, but wise. Paul emphasises how the days we are living in right now are evil, making it harder for us to ignore the world’s evilness and live in the way that God wants us to. We have to be careful that our lives are not wasted on unwise actions. Even though living wise is undoubtedly hard, we need to ask God daily to help us make wise decisions throughout the day. 

  1. Taking advice.

“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

  • Proverbs 13:10

Let’s be honest. Taking advice is something that everyone struggles with. Whether it be advice from parents, friends or anyone else, our pride seems to kick in and make it extremely hard to accept advice. However, Proverbs warns us that pride will certainly not get us anywhere. It will instead stir up conflict and strife in our lives. Something that should always be kept in mind is how wise people become wiser by listening to others’ advice. So, how do we become wise? To gain wisdom, we must humble our hearts and listen to the people God put in our lives to correct and rebuke us.

  1. Influence of those around you.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

  • Proverbs 3:20

Another very important thing is the people you decide to hang around with. This is something that many of us don’t realize impacts us. However, the people you hang around with will surely impact you – from the way you act to your whole lifestyle. Proverbs tells us to walk with the wise and not fools. Each friendship we start is something that should be thought through thoroughly, to ensure that we are not being around people who may impact us for the worse.

  1. Prayer.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

  • James 1:5

Finally, wisdom is something that the world cannot give: it’s something that only can be received from God 

 through true prayer and willingness of heart. When we examine our prayers, how often do we ask for worldly things? For money? Fame? Relationships? The list can go on and on. We must remember to pray for the things that the world cannot offer – that includes wisdom.

Let us learn together, whole-heartedly, not to live this life as unwise, but wise, and learn to take advice through true and humble prayer.

Erin Kurnia (14) is one of the writers for RE Generation-Z. She hopes that by God’s grace, she can write to spread the Truth and happiness to others, that they too may be children of God living in the light. You will find that she really enjoys playing piano, baking, sewing and designing.

With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility

Imagine you just took your driver’s test. Before you took the test, you studied and practised driving, remembering all the rules and signs. You then hear the words, “You pass.” 

Now, you have  the privilege to drive, but passing the test doesn’t give you the right to just drive however you want, neglecting all the rules and responsibilities you spent time remembering. 

Getting the privilege to drive also means taking responsibility and obeying the rules. 

As we get older, we realise nearly everything we do comes with a certain responsibility, and that includes our relationship with God. 

When we receive the privilege of being God’s child, we take the responsibility of choosing faith over fear. His love for us has been set into our hearts, so it is our responsibility to share it with others, to help others with their relationship with God, and to set His name on high in our everyday lives. 

“Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name.” (Psalm 91:14) 

Following the rules, as in the previous driving example, is not the only aspect of taking responsibility; it also involves being willing to answer for your actions and accepting accountability for what you have done (or have not done). It is taking responsibility for your actions and commitments.

But since we are flawed human beings,  we often  refuse to accept accountability for the things we do. In fact, we tend to put others to blame, trying to shift the burden of accountability to someone else, and, when faced with our mistakes, we immediately start to defend our actions. 

Blaming God

It is common for people who are going through a hard time to blame God for it. We find it very easy to see God as cruel and disconnected – after all, we can’t see Him!

One  biblical example can be found in Job’s wife, who attempted to persuade her husband to curse God and hold Him as responsible for the disasters that befell them (Job 2:9: His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”)

Instead of blaming God, we should thank Him for everything that has happened to us, even when it feels really hard. He is working for our good through both the bad and good times, though we might not be able to comprehend His plan in the midst of it. As Creator and Ruler of all, God knows what He’s doing. He takes great responsibility for even the smallest part of our personal lives. 

Christians Must Take Great Responsibility 

As Christians, God wants us to be responsible.God has given us laws that lead us how we should behave and act towards others. Even though there will be times when we fall short, we must repent and make changes. Don’t stay stuck in your own failures – we have faith that Christ has already paid the price of all our sins, and that includes those past, present, and future.

All good things, including our responsibilities (as tiresome as they sometimes feel)come from God. And if it is God who guides us, we will always be with Him, and be able to draw on His strength to fulfil these responsibilities, even in the deepest part of the journey. Sometimes even, God orchestrates the events of our lives so that events beyond our control determine our next steps. However, in all this, we are still called to fulfil our responsibilities to the best of our ability. For example, you may be fired through no fault of your own, and the next step (your new responsibility!) is to find another job.

However, God gives us the freedom to be faithful. We can choose to undertake the responsibility He gives us faithfully and willingly, or we could choose to grumble and get angry at God for it. Take it back to the job example, we now have a responsibility to write a resume, connect with others, and do our best towork, even if it’s less comfortable than our previous job. In all circumstances, we must take up our responsibility whether that be work, school, family, or anything else. Part of God’s guidance in our lives is allowing us to work in His time and will, even when we don’t want to and prefer to work in the job and with the colleagues we choose. 

But even as we work towards our responsibilities in these circumstances, God uses them to shape us. Maybe this new job that God calls you in will  change your career path or make you learn a new skill. It may bring to light in you a hidden talent or gift and or provide you with opportunities to serve God for years to come. We give God control of our lives even if we never really know where He will lead us next, because, if we trust in Him and His promises, we know it’ll be a place that is for our ultimate good. But that doesn’t mean our responsibility is over, and that we should automatically expect good things from Him and so not do our part. It is out of a heart that truly knows God, and has experienced the joy of His salvation for themselves, that longing and determination to persevere in the responsibilities He has given us comes. 

We must also remember that God’s plans for each of us are different, and our responsibilities will often become much more personal, and target the deepest parts of our heart, because God deals personally with all of us. 

So, Why Is Taking Personal Responsibility Important?

  1. God created each of us in His own image, and has a certain calling for each and every one of us.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). 

  1. Each of us will have to explain why we do what we do before God’s judgement seat.

 “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

  1. God’s grace for us is bought with a heavy price (with Christ’s blood)

“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29)

  1. Each of us will receive a reward from Him 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

How Do We Become Responsible?

  1. We must know the will of God for our lives

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This means we musn’t forget to spend time studying and reading the Bible.

  1. We must follow the will of God  

“But prove yourselves to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). We must learn how to obey, even when it becomes hard, and feel impossible. But that’s not where this command ends. God doesn’t only instruct us to obey Him and that’s that, but He gives us the strength, willingness and joy to do it through the Holy Spirit.

  1. We must avoid sinning against Him 

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God promises us a way out so that we can resist temptation. We receive the strength to resist temptation because God has already saved us – we know that sin and death have no more hold over us. 

4. The ultimate responsibility of Christians, wherever we are, is to be a light to the world 

    “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).  We must point people to the real light, Christ, and help them grow in their knowledge of Him.

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