I was born in Singapore in 1986, and my parents are Christians, so from a young age I was brought to church. I can vaguely remember being dedicated to God when I was two years old. My parents were carrying me in their arms and the pastor was praying over me.
I’m not sure exactly when I accepted Christ. My parents would bring me to church every Sunday and every night, they would read to me Bible stories. When I was about five or six years old, I remember reading a Christian story book which had a picture of a heart, and there was a flap for a door. Opening the door, I saw Jesus’ picture. My parents explained to me that I had to let Jesus into my heart, and I did so. I prayed that Jesus would enter my heart.
Now looking back, I am reminded of the verse in Rev 3:20 in which Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” As I grew older, I understood more about salvation. The Bible says that everyone has sinned against God and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Also, because of our sins, everyone is destined to be punished and sent to hell for eternity. (Rom 6:23)
I learned that God so loved the world – loved us, loved me, loved you, that He sent his one and only son, Jesus, into the world to die for our sins, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish in hell, but have eternal life (John 3:16). I confessed and repented of my sins, and asked God to forgive my sins. I asked Jesus to be the Lord and saviour of my life. From that moment on, I believe that I became a child of God.
I had a carefree and happy childhood, with little worries. I did well in school, all the way from primary school to secondary school. I went to church faithfully with my parents; however, church meant little to me. I felt the services were boring. I was more interested in playing with my friends and felt that I already knew all of the Bible stories – I could easily impress others with my knowledge of the Bible. I did not make it a habit to read the Bible or pray.
Even as a Christian, I was a proud and arrogant person. I thought I was cleverer and better than others around me, partly because I did well academically, and because I knew (or at least, thought I knew) the Bible well. I wasn’t a nice person. I was rude, selfish, impatient, and would lose my temper easily even with my parents. I always wanted my way.
As time went on, I went to polytechnic, then the army. Next, I entered university with a full scholarship. Once again, the old sin of pride returned, as I began to do well in my studies. Pride has always been the sin that entangles me easily. I did not rely on God for my decisions, and thought that my successes were due to my own abilities and cleverness. I became obsessed with finding the job that would pay me the most money, and told me friends that I wanted a high-paying job. But in the midst of all these things, God gave me a wakeup call.
In February 2013, during a usual Sunday church service, the preacher preached from Deuteronomy 8. Let me read the passage to you.
“11Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God… 17You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth”
I was convicted by God’s Holy Spirit and I started to cry. I tried my very best to keep myself from crying, so I took a piece of tissue paper to wipe my tears away quickly. However, after the service had ended, I broke down and sobbed. My mum who was seated next to me was there to comfort me. It is rather embarrassing for a guy like me who hasn’t cried in years to break down like that in church, but I thank God that He loves me so much that He steps into my life to give me a wake-up call!
I realized that my wealth and achievements are all from God. Everything that I have is a gift from him. It is not due to my own ability or cleverness, therefore I cannot become proud. I was convicted of the sin of pride in my life and asked God for forgiveness.
I also cried because I felt I had been falling far short of what God intends for me – to be His witness, to acknowledge Him, to not be ashamed of Him, to tell my colleagues and friends that I’m a Christian and how God has changed my life. I asked God to help me put my priorities right, and transform me day by day to be more and more like Christ.
Let me close with some verses to encourage you.
First, as we grow in Christ, we have to grow more humble. John the Baptist said about Jesus, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30) For me, this is difficult, as I am often tempted to claim glory for myself, instead of giving the glory to God. Dear friends, Jesus himself is gentle and humble in heart, and he wants us to be like Him. The Bible also tells us that we are to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, and He will lift us up (James 4:10). Some of the most stern warnings and judgments in the Bible are against those who are proud in heart. Satan fell also because of pride.
Second, we have to put God as the absolute first in our life. Jesus must be Lord of our lives. That is what the Bible means when it says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given unto you.” (Matt 6:33) Do not chase after riches, wealth, enjoyment, and worry about the things the world worries about. Seek God first, and He will provide for your every need. Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” This is my prayer, and hope it will be yours too. Thank you.