Sometimes I wear cute shoes. Sometimes people notice.
But what do I want people to remember when I leave a room? My shoes? Or something else?
What if a desire to leave the fragrance of Jesus lingering behind my every encounter was realized? What if I left conversations with a trail of manna toward heaven?
Jesus gave everything. He willingly poured out His life-giving blood until there was no more to give. He reserved not one ounce of Himself. He poured out His love for the whole world, for all who would receive Him, on that treacherously painful and breathtakingly wonderful Passover day over 2,000 years ago.
What if I truly gave Him my whole heart in return, without reserving portions for myself? What does the spillover from that kind of heart look like?
When Jesus committed His spirit to the Father, the earth trembled. When He rose from the dead and walked, spoke, and ate, something intensely significant took place within the hearts of those in His presence.
Luke described it another way.
When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ (Luke 24:30-32, NIV)
Do our hearts burn within us as a result of being in the presence of Jesus? If so, shouldn’t that heat radiate, or set off some sparks?
Unfortunately, we have this stinking human nature that will jump for the chance to be noticed. That selfish desire for attention is a form of greed that can lead to all kinds of evils. We get so caught up in the moment that we don’t even realize the appeasing of our flesh is at the expense of Christ. And conversations that could be used to share His love turn into meaningless chatter – shamefully lost opportunities.
Consider two individuals from the New Testament who experienced Jesus: The unnamed Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and the apostle Paul. The woman’s life was so marked by sin and shame that she made her daily journey to the well alone, without the company of the socially accepted. And of course, Paul was a man with an interesting past. On one hand, he was highly esteemed – a Pharisee of Pharisees, well respected and admired by his peers. I’m sure. On the other hand, he was a persecutor of Jesus and His followers.
The Samaritan woman and Paul both had powerful encounters with Jesus Himself. And both became evangelists who simply couldn’t be quiet about the One who came to save the world – to give eternal life-giving water.
The Samaritan woman was amazed that Jesus, a Jew, would even want to talk to her at all. Then she realized He knew everything she had ever done and still wanted to talk with her. She went on to tell everyone she could find about this man, the Messiah, God in flesh!
Of course, it would be nearly impossible for a Spirit-filled believer to read the New Testament without drawing closer to Jesus in the process of reading Paul’s writings. Jesus was, without question, at the center of his thoughts.
Both were vessels of use, who moved beyond petty thoughts of themselves and into the callings they had received from Jesus.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he instructed him:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:15-17a, NASB)
Paul pressed further in a letter to the church at Ephesus:
[A]s God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12, NIV); [to] be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among ourselves, and making music to the Lord in our hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b-20)
This isn’t to say we can never talk about shoes, fashion choices, or other superfluous subject matter. And of course, we have plenty of practical matters to address in our speech. But when we allow ourselves to be consumed in mere worldly interests and conversations, we are not representing the One to whom we belong.
If we are truly presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to the God we love, we will bring attention to Jesus in our conversations rather than being remembered for things that burn up like wood, hay, or straw – no matter how cute the shoes!