I read an article yesterday about Oklahoma City and their urban area. It was simply an interview style article between the reporter and the mayor. Normally these types of articles don't even grab my attention much less do I read through them, but this one, while it was about the city development, spoke deeper to me.
"A city gets its identity from its core."
This was the quote that grabbed my attention. So often we identify ourselves by our relationships, jobs, hobbies and the like, but that isn't the essence of who we are. Our identity should come from the core of us. I don't know that you would introduce yourself that way, but everything you do should come out of that.
As a Christian it's easy to say our bodies are our temple and then move on or even get legalistic. But while Jesus came to give us freedom and set us free we still have to think about that awesome truth that the Holy Spirit does in fact live within us. Shouldn't our identity come from that fact?
"We had established low standards for ourselves."
But too often we see freedom for others. We accept God gave grace to others. We believe God's mercy is only for others. We don't think we can truly be available for those things, and we live a life less than what God wants for us out of some horrible sense of justice. I have seen people live their lives as if they were one of the monks/hermits of old who placed worms in their skin as a sense of punishment for things they had done. It breaks my heart how we choose to live our lives in these low standards.
"...a lot of it was just raising the standards for what was acceptable."
Whether it's heart, soul, mind, or strength we need to come to the realization that we are in fact recipients of all God offers simply because He offers it. How joyous should we live our life? What changes would we make if we literally walked with God and listened to His guidance for our every day life? What changes would be made? How would we live differently if we were to realize that God indeed loves us as we are and wants us to have peace, joy, and love from Him?
"We decided to invest in ourselves."
Once we accept that reality I think it will make a huge difference. So often we try to change our lives, set up new habits, declare resolutions, when all God wants us to do is get in touch with Him. Connect with Him. Listen to Him. Not that life will be some false ideal of perfect, but we will be able to accept the joy He gives us, peace which passes all understanding, and love which is perfect when it comes from Him.
"The city has now got a set of standards."
So, instead of looking at others and knowing they are given the grace and mercy of God, look in the mirror and know it's true. You aren't being prideful, for you know God has given all to you as a gift. You aren't above your station, for you are a child of the King. And you aren't stepping on anyone else, because it is offered to all. But embrace it as true to you, as your identity of who you are, as the core of you.
"...and those are standards I continually push, given they need to be ever increasing..."
And be prepared to continue growing and working in your life. There will never come a time when we aren't learning something, otherwise we are stagnate, and God has given us living water for our souls. That's fancy church Bible talk for a continual stream of life giving strength which soaks through your entire being, but it comes from your core.
You have changes you want to make? You have habits you want to change? Start from the core of who you are. Not only will you make better decisions since God will be leading you, you will be able to stand firm in what you decide in the end.