How not to be like everyone else

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Gracious God,
I want to be in the best company, Your company.
Help me remain mindful that my goal should not be to blend in.
Comfort my heart with the knowledge that standing out is just another sign that I’m set apart and chosen by You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Genesis 6:17-18, 22; 7:1

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The heart of Noah’s story is really about Noah’s heart. Noah didn’t just listen to God. He didn’t just hear Him without any follow through. Noah “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22b). Noah wasn’t afraid to stand out—or build an ark before there was any rain. He wasn’t swayed by those around him. He was set apart and led only by the Lord.

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The moment Mark didn’t hand me the yellow slip with a smiley face, I knew something was wrong. He’d just gotten off the bus, and it was clear that he was doing everything he could to postpone the inevitable. He was going to have to ‘fess up to a less than ideal day at school.

“Hi, Mark! Did you have a good day at school?”

There was no reply.

“Mark,” I continued. “Did you have something you wanted to tell me?”

My little guy looked me in the eye, but he couldn’t form words. The truth is he didn’t have to. I already knew. His bottom lip quivered uncontrollably as he shook with shame. He’d made some pretty bad choices and he knew it. And now, so did I.

Mark’s low IQ is a struggle. It can be quite a struggle when it comes to his behavior. He learns by example. So when those around him begin to act up and act out, it’s easier for Mark to join in than not.

I’m constantly telling Mark that all the other kids in class aren’t mine, but he is. And so I expect him to listen to my words, follow my rules and make better choices—even when I’m not around. Essentially, I’m asking him to stand out from the crowd. Choose to do better. A tall order, I know. I don’t expect perfection. But I do expect practice.

This is precisely what we’re called to do, too, while living in this broken, hurting world. Live in the midst of it all, but remain set apart. When others go low, chose to go high. Act according to what you already know: you are “loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

Psalm 4:3 (ESV)

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What does it mean to be set apart?
How can knowing this help shape our choices and actions?

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