This may sound strange (okay, it is), but I have a neon-green pin with the single word “whatever” fastened to the top of my Christmas stocking. Don’t ask me how it found its way there. And I can’t even claim it’s in reference to Philippians 4:8, “whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely…meditate on these…”.

I’m just a “whatever” kind of girl; Whether it be due to flexibility or laziness (or a fine combination of the two),it’s a pretty typical response of mine. For instance, someone asks, “What do you want to eat?”, or, “What do you want to do?”, and I answer, “Whatever.” I never realized it could be so annoying until my then-boyfriend, now-husband, turned it around on me. Ironically, I bought that pin for him. To this day, 30-some years later, it serves as a yearly reminder: consider and contribute.

The apostle Paul was the opposite of a “whatever” guy. Practicing what he preached in Colossians 3:23, he lived heartily! He was and continues to be, thousands of years later, one of the most influential men in history. Paul was a mouthpiece for the Lord, sharing Jesus, growing and shaping the early Christian church, and writing over a dozen New Testament books in the Bible. Prior to Paul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus, “Saul of Tarsus”, as he was previously known, was just as influential in his work against the Lord. He was famous for his relentless pursuit of followers of “The Way”, to have them thrown into prison or, in Stephen’s case, stoned to death. Saul was bold and passionate for a cause that was all wrong, until he met Jesus himself. Then, to put it mildly, he saw the light. Which, by the way, is another good point. We can’t change people. We can only speak truth in love. The transformation is from the Lord. See, Stephen was a fervent evangelist, but he was still the first martyr. Meaning, the crowd did not want to hear what he was saying. Maybe later, hearts were changed, like Paul’s. We don’t know. In either case, Stephen’s short life was not wasted, but purposeful, because he lived and died for Jesus. As for Paul, his God-given name change was nothing compared to the change in his behavior. No longer was his agenda to impress or control others – Jesus took the spotlight in Paul’s life!

No matter where we are or what we’re doing, someone is noticing our words, our actions, our reactions. And whether we realize it or not, like Paul, we are influencing them positively or negatively. It may be the kids in our own home, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or even the world of social media. How can we call ourselves Christians and then destroy others with our words? We, too, are ambassadors for Christ. Remember, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouthspeaks (Matt. 12:34). If we complain, argue, lie, slam people, blow up or freak out on a regular basis, it’s not just venting over a bad day. Our behavior is a direct result of our thought life (Prov. 23:7), which is an excellent reason to read and apply the whatevers of Philippians 4:8. All those things…they describe God. When we meditate on Him, His words, His behavior, will flow from our hearts – the living water needed to refresh all the dry and thirsty souls on our path, not to mention douse those fiery darts the devil shoots our way!

Come to think of it, maybe my Christmas stocking isn’t such a strange home for that pin. Jesus came as a baby in a stable willing to do “whatever” it took to save us. Now, that puts a whole new spin on the word! My “whatever” was mindless consent which often led to being swept along with the crowd on waves of activity. That lifestyle can be exhausting as well as unfulfilling. Eventually, you realize time has gone, the day is done, the opportunity lost. And what was accomplished? Who did you affect and how? Colossians 3:17 says “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When my life is over, I may be remembered for my love of babies and how they all need me, my fear of spiders and bugs, or my daily mishaps (and that glittery bubble suit I never got!). But as I live with a purposed heart, my hope and personal prayer is this:

Whatever I do, whatever they see ~
let Christ be the core, and my legacy

What would people say of your life? Better yet, what would God say? Now is the time to consider your contribution. Rather than live with regret, live intentionally “as to the Lord”!

SHINE, always