Thursday, December 31, 2015

Am I a Simeon?

        Last Sunday our pastor taught from Luke 2, finishing up the Christmas story. We all know Luke 2 to be the go to scriptures for Christmas and churches everywhere read through them during the season. But this year, something stuck out at me that I had not really noticed before, and every since Sunday I have not been able to get it out of my head or my heart. It was the description of Simeon given to us in Luke 2:25-32. As the pastor read the verses three words stopped me short and I found myself writing them down and asking the question, "Am I?" after each one. It was like the Lord was taking me to a little island off on my own and I stopped focusing on what my pastor was saying and found my heart humbled before my Lord.
"Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was RIGHTEOUS, and DEVOUT, WAITING for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him."
 Luke 2:25 ESV (emphasis mine)
         Am I righteous? Am I devout and am I waiting for the Lord to return? This question began to stir in my heart and I find myself drawn to the truth that the Lord wanted me to see in these three simple words.
        What makes us righteous? When the scriptures refer to Simeon as righteous, they are telling us that he was a man after God's own heart. He was dedicated to doing the will of God not only in his thoughts, and heart, but in his feelings and because of that his actions confirmed his dedication to the Lord. He was surrendered to do whatever God asked of him without question.
        We know that in the end, nothing in us or about us make us righteous. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) All our goodness is pointless if it is not found in Jesus Christ. You can give all your money to the poor, feed and clothe every single homeless person on the planet, but if it was not done through Jesus Christ there is no point to any of it at all. Our goodness does not earn points with the Lord. You can't earn air miles to get to heaven by doing good works. Righteousness only comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
        My righteousness does not begin with me either. It begins in the work of Jesus Christ that first Christmas eve. He became flesh and took all my sins, everything that was or ever will be against me and nailed it to a cross. His sacrifice is not an excuse for me to sin, or to continue in sin. His sacrifice is the reason why I should want to live righteously. Righteousness is a heart surrendered to the will of God, no matter the consequences, no matter the sacrifice. Just look at Jesus where righteousness is exemplified for us. Being righteous means that we have fully surrendered to His will, in our thoughts, in our hearts and that surrender comes out through  our feet. Righteousness is seen through the way we live our every day lives.
"And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord."
Luke 1:6 ESV
          Zechariah and Elizabeth were called righteous by God, not because they lived perfect, sinless lives. But because their hearts were surrendered to whatever He brought their way. Whatever path He put them on they walked it according to His will, trusting and relying on Him to bring them through. Remember these two had lived year after year without a child, yet they trusted and followed God in spite of all their disappointed hopes. The believed God and because of their faith they were accounted as righteous. (Romans 4:3) Righteousness is seen because it transforms our hearts and our minds to walk confidently in the ways of the Lord.
         The next word that jumped up at me was "devout". If someone is devout they are considered to be very pious and careful in all their ways. They are mindful of God's presence in every area of their lives. Devout is described in Vines Expository Dictionary as "that mingled fear and love which, combined, constitute the piety of man towards God, the Old Testament placed its emphasis on the fear, the New places it on the love…{Trench, Syn, xlviii,, devout) Devout Christians are going to display a fear of God in the way they love God.
         I think what is sticking out at me the most is that throughout Simeon's life his righteousness and his devotion was seen. When you met him there was no question that he was a follower of Christ. If he were alive today, just by looking at his Facebook page you would know, without question, that he loved God. If we have to tell people that we are Christians without them seeing any evidence of it, then perhaps we have missed the mark. I don't know about you, but I want to be so full of Jesus that every time I open my mouth He comes out first. I want to be so full of Jesus that whenever I meet someone new I don't have to tell them about Christ, they will just see Him. What we believe has got to go from our heads, to our hearts and out through our feet.
         The last characteristic mentioned about Simeon says that he was waiting. This one grabbed my attention because I was reminded of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. You are probably familiar with it so I won't reiterate it for you. But if you are not familiar with it, please take some time to read it today. (Matthew 25- Ten Virgins)
       In Matthew 25 Jesus is telling His disciples that they need to be ready and waiting for His return, just like the bride waits for the bridegroom. He is telling us that we need to be ready because He is coming but we do not know when that day will be. As far as we know, this could be our very last day upon this earth. Jesus could come back in the next hour, or we could die in a car accident on our way to the grocery store. Our time on this earth is not ours. He has complete and total control over every second, and just like Simeon, we are to be waiting for the Lord.
 The New King James and King James Bibles have "looking for" instead of waiting, but they carry the same meaning. Simeon was living every single day of his life expecting to receive the promises of God. In verse 26 we are told that "it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." (Luke 2:26 ESV)
Simeon lived in expectation of this promise every single day. What would your life look like if you lived today in the expectation that Jesus was coming at any moment? What would you do differently? How would your life change if you knew that today would be your very last? That is how Simeon lived every single day. He woke up every morning not disappointed because the promise hadn't been fulfilled, instead he woke up filled with great anticipation at what the Lord was going to do today. Just like the ten virgins, his lamp was full and ready to go. He believed in the promises given to him and it was seen in the way he lived his life.

        What about you? Is your righteousness seen? Do people know you are a Christian just by the way you live your life? Are you waiting for His return? I know that my heart is humbled today by the life of Simeon. My life and my heart are in desperate need of Jesus Christ. I am not righteous, but He is and its not about how right I live, but how right I allow Him to live through me. I am not devoted, but His grace and His mercy give me another day to start again. Every day is an opportunity, a chance for us to trim our wicks and fill our lamps in hopeful anticipation of His return. If we lived today like He was coming back to get us tonight, how different would our lives look? If we can learn anything from the life of Simeon today, let it be that we not only believe it, but we walk it so that it might be said of us that we are righteous, devout and waiting for His return. Amen.