Set Yourself Apart for Christ
- Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Leslie Ludy's new book, Set-Apart Femininity: God’s Sacred Intent for Every Young Woman (Harvest House Publishers, 2008).
As a woman, you naturally want to be seen as beautiful. But no matter how much time, energy, and money you spend trying to catch an attractive guy’s attention or live up to our society’s current standard of beauty, the best you can achieve is the worldly kind of beauty that can’t fulfill you.
True beauty can only be found through your relationship with Jesus Christ. When you set yourself apart from the world’s idea of a beautiful lifestyle and devote yourself wholeheartedly to Christ, His love will transform you into a stunningly beautiful woman.
Here’s how you can set yourself apart for Christ:
Consider your motives. Take a hard look at the decisions you’re making and ask yourself honestly what motives lie behind them. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to grow in all the ways Jesus wants to transform you, even when that means sacrificing your own agenda? Or are you trying to tack on some Christian morality to a self-indulgent life?
Consider who Jesus is to you. Yes, He’s your Savior. But do you view Him as a casual buddy with whom you check in once in a while? Or do you see Him as your true love -- Someone you pursue with absolute passion?
Don’t settle for less than the best. There’s much more to being a Christian than saying the salvation prayer and then fitting Jesus into your life. Jesus wants to be more than just a part of your life; He wants to be your whole life. Instead of trying to fit Jesus into your lifestyle, build your life completely around your relationship with Him. Don’t be content to be a mediocre Christian, slipping Jesus into your life whenever it’s convenient. Decide every day to abandon yourself completely to Jesus, inviting Him to transform every part of your life.
Look for excitement in the right place. Even though the culture surrounding you may give you the message that surrendering your life to Jesus will only lead to a boring life, you’ll discover if you choose to do so anyway that Jesus will lead you on exciting adventures you couldn’t experience any other way.
Rely on supernatural power to help you. Don’t be intimidated by wondering how you’ll ever have the strength to live truly holy life. You can’t do it in your own strength. But the good news is that God will help you every step of the way when you rely on Him. Ask God to teach you how to yield to His power working within you rather than your own efforts. Remember that, apart from God, you can do nothing, but with Him, anything is possible.
Get a spiritual makeover. While our culture will often tell you to look for beauty within, the reality is that all that lies within you apart from God is the ugliness of sin. Acknowledge that reality, confess and repent of your sins, and invite God to make you new from the inside out by removing the residue of sin and selfishness from your life and clothing you in holiness. Start today, and keep the process going, since there’s always more for God to refine in your life.
Ask how much you can give to Christ, instead of how much you can get away with. Be ruthless in eliminating moral compromises from your life. Don’t use your freedom in Christ to do just the minimum you should do to be considered faithful. Instead, constantly remind yourself of how Jesus gave His all – His life – to save you, and decide to give your all to keep growing closer to Him.
Sacrifice whatever is keeping you too preoccupied to make Jesus your top priority. Break away from parts of your lifestyle that are preventing you from seeking Jesus with your whole heart. Take a hard look at how much time you spend in prayer and Bible study versus other, far less important activities like watching TV or surfing the Internet. Consider what kinds of sounds, images, and messages you’re allowing into your mind on a regular basis. Do they honor God, or do they glorify sin? Where do you turn for enjoyment and comfort – to Jesus, or to someone or something else? Consider such topics as the movies and TV shows you watch, the music you listen to, the way you use the Internet, the magazines and books you read, the way you speak, the way you dress, the activities you pursue, and the friendships you engage in. Remember that if any activity, habit, or relationship in your life tends to pull you away from Jesus, that’s a sign that it doesn’t belong in your life.
Expect persecution, but value Christ more. When you live a set-apart life, you’ll likely encounter negative responses from others who are uncomfortable with the extent of your faith. Don’t be discouraged or derailed by persecution. Live your life to please God, not other people.
Attract the right kind of guys. Don’t worry about being overlooked by guys because you’ve set yourself apart for Christ. The guys who will overlook you for that reason are the kinds of guys you wouldn’t want to date anyway – self-indulgent, sex-obsessed guys who won’t recognize the beauty of holiness or know how to treat you with the honor God wants you to receive. If you haven’t met the right guy yet, don’t put off living your life to the fullest. Instead of looking to romance with men to fulfill you, draw your fulfillment from the greatest love story you could ever participate in – your relationship with Jesus. Make Jesus – not finding the right guy – the focus of your life. Even if the right guy never comes along for you to marry, Jesus will still be enough. When you pour all your time and energy into your relationship with Jesus, you’ll catch the attention of Christlike men, and one of them may even turn out to be the right one for you.
Relate to guys wisely. Be sure to set and maintain clear physical and emotional boundaries in your relationships with guys. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you so you’re not led by selfish motives. Guard your heart and keep the honor of your future spouse in mind. Don’t pursue guys; let guys initiate relationships with you. Remember that, if you want your future husband to be strong and confident, you need to allow Him to follow God’s pattern of being the initiator in your relationship. Forget about flirting, because flirting draws attention toward you instead of toward Christ – and in a healthy relationship, the people involved should be pointing each other toward Christ.
Resist evil’s influence in your life. Don’t allow evil forces to hinder God’s purposes for your life. While sometimes God allows you to suffer so good purposes can be fulfilled, often your problems are attacks from the evil side of the spiritual realm that wants to discourage and defeat you. Pray about whatever is troubling you – fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, confusion, insecurity, family problems, health problems, financial problems, a sense of hopelessness, or anything else – and stand firmly in the power Jesus has given you to overcome evil. Fortify the spiritual walls around your life. Identify breaches like sinful attitudes and behaviors, rebellious habits, and involvement with the occult that give evil forces entry points into your life. Then confess them and repent of them. Make a list of all the areas of your life that don’t reflect the glory of Jesus, and pray about each one. When you pray: be persistent, remember that God wants to do good things for you, be bold, be specific, ask for big things and have faith that God will answer, and stand upon the promise that all things are possible with God. Incorporate prayer into every part of your life and make a habit of praying constantly as you go through each day.
Make Christ your first love even after you’re married. If you and your spouse are overly concerned with trying to meet your own needs and desires, your marriage will be smothered in the process. But if you both focus on serving each other because you love Jesus and want to His follow His call to selflessness, your marriage will thrive.
Serve others. Make service to others a regular part of your lifestyle. The world is full of hurting people, and Jesus is calling you to help them. Jesus set you free not just for your own benefit, but also so you can help others. Take your job to minister to those in need seriously. Ask God to help you see it as a privilege rather than a burden. Remember that your call to serve goes beyond just the people in your own family or circle of friends. Keep focusing outward. Don’t use your family responsibilities or any other circumstance as an excuse to ignore the greater call on your life, which is to pour yourself out radically for the lost, dying, needy, and oppressed. Pray for God to show you which specific people He wants you to help at what times, so you don’t become overwhelmed and focus where He wants you to focus.
Hold a sacred ceremony to declare your commitment to God. Schedule a time when you can be alone with God and express your decision to live a set-apart life for Him. Celebrate Communion and sign a confession that explains the commitments you’re making to God.
Adapted from Set-Apart Femininity: God’s Sacred Intent for Every Young Woman, copyright 2008 by Leslie Ludy. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Leslie Ludy, author of Authentic Beauty, is also a speaker and musician. She and husband, Eric, are founders of RGeneration, a nonprofit organization designed to provide spiritual training for youth. They coauthored When God Writes Your Love Story and are guests for programs such as Josh McDowell Radio, Beverly LaHaye Today, and the Moody Broadcast Network.
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