It’s funny because we live in this medium where we want to standout, be different, unique and special…but we also want to fit in. It’s a lot harder work to rise to the top than it is to drift back down to the bottom. In that case, the likelihood of blending in and being like everyone else is greater if we don’t set standards and stick to them.
I was in the 7th grade when I set standards for my life. Nothing externally gave me the confidence that I was worthy of setting myself apart. I was already “set apart” in the worst way for a hormonal adolescent whose primary desire was to be accepted.
I was the new girl at new school with painfully short hair, a cystic acne covered face and no friends. I remember one boy I had a crush on called me a dog. I was at the bottom of the social chain. Who was I to think I had any right to set standards for my life?
Thankfully, I joined a bible study and I remember one night when the leader talked to us about our worth, value and purpose. I felt like she was speaking directly to me when she said, ” You are worthy of setting standards and you never have to compromise for a boy, to fit in the popular crowd or to be like or accepted by anyone.”
It all resonated with me. Even though it didn’t seem true on the outside, it felt true in my heart. My dream was to be Miss USA, to marry Prince Charming and to live a meaningful life.
The idea of saving my sexual purity for my future husband seemed so romantic and I wanted to eliminate any distractions from my life that would cause a detour from achieving my dream. So that night, I made a vow and wrote a letter to God. My letter said:
I promise I will not drink alcohol, try drugs or cigarettes and I will save my sexual purity for my husband.
Then I folded it up and placed it in an envelope and gave it to my bible study leader. It that season of my life, I didn’t feel beautiful, confident or happy, but I made a decision that I would believe God’s word instead of my feelings. From that point on, the vow was sealed, never to be broken.
There was no wavering all throughout high school and college. There were plenty of opportunities and temptations that presented themselves, but I was steadfast. Nothing was worth compromising the dream in my heart, the kind of woman I wanted to become or the life I wanted to live.
You are never too old or young to set standards for your life. Even if you feel you have already messed up or your integrity and reputation has been compromised, you can absolutely start a new slate tomorrow. Setting standards may require letting people go who don’t accept your new level of self-respect.
You may have read that vow of standards I made and thought, “oh my gosh, life will be no fun. People are right when they say Christianity is so restrictive with rules.” But actually, the whole point of setting these standards is to set you free from living with the regret, shame and guilt that often come from living outside of God’s boundaries.
Ezekiel 20:11-12 says, “There I gave them my decrees and regulations so they could find life by keeping them. And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to by holy.”
Verse 13 goes on to say, “They wouldn’t obey my regulations even though obedience would have given them life.”
Just like a parent who protects us from harm and evil, God gives standards to us out of love.
Matthew 13 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
Jesus is saying that following the masses, the crowd or even our own justification of sin will only cause destruction, pain and chaos in our lives.
Some may argue, “well if I don’t make try something out and make my own mistakes, how I will ever learn?” My response to that is: “True wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes and trusting God enough to follow His commands.”
The Lord will absolutely restore you, cleanse and heal you from the consequences of sin, but it’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 lays it out: Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
When Paul, the author of Corinthians talks about the Kingdom of God, he means the pure joy, power, radiance and peace from heaven we can access during this life. We won’t get to tap into the magnificence the Kingdom offers if our lives and hearts are consistently muddled with sin.
We can’t serve two gods. We either love God with all our heart and mind or we are torn between our love for addictions (idols) to things that will never fill us and will always return void. Straddling a middle road is dangerous and won’t get you anywhere worth going.
You do have a dream worth setting standards for and never compromising. You have a life full of God’s promises and an irrevocable call. The question is, how will you get there? How long will it take?
Make a decision today that you are worthy of setting standards for your life. Then, make a vow and write a letter to God. Some recommendations I have of standards to set are:
1. I will not drink to the point of drunkeness.
2. I will not use drugs.
3. I will not go places or parties that cause me to stumble.
4. I will not tolerate mental, verbal or physical abuse, harassment or manipulation from anyone.
5. I will honor my body and save sexual purity for marriage.
6. I will only date guys who honor my boundaries and worth.
7. I will only surround myself with those who uplift me, unless for a short time when I am ministering or encouraging someone.
8. I will make God the Lord of all of every aspect of my life.
I remember when I was in high school, a friend’s mother was driving me home. She asked me, “Well, what are you going to do when all your friends are doing it and they pressure you?” I replied, “That’s why I have made a decision about the situation before I get into it. Then I can be strong and grounded when the encounter arises.”
That is exactly why making a resolve in your heart and mind about who you are, what you will and will not do is crucial to dealing with peer pressure. You got this, girl. You deserve to rise up and live a life worthy of your dreams.
Setting standards is having The Sparkle Effect.
I lift up my heart up to you. I am so beautifully and wonderfully made and designed to live a life that allows light to beam out of me. God, thank you for being the fastest, most gracious forgiver and coverer of my sins. I ask that you would make me feel pure, clean and gorgeous right now. Alleviate any shame or self-pity from me right now in Jesus name. God, strengthen me to evaluate my life with a clear perspective and to see where I needs to set standards. God, show me that you will be with me every step of the way and that when you made your covenant of love with me, it was irrevocable. Make my dream burn within me so intensely that no sin, distraction or desire to fit in would even compare. Amen.
Deuteronomy 6:1-2, Leviticus 26: 3-4, Ezekiel 20:19-20, Proverbs 31:4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Matthew 7:13
If this message blessed you, be a blessing by sharing with others.