Friday, February 16, 2018

Because It's There!

While shoveling snow last week, God revealed my hear desire to "git er done" and "do it my way." Yesterday I lost my "to do" list and realized how dependent and driven I am to get things done and check them off the list--maybe you're one of those people, too.

I can evaluate, over-think, and question my motives: Why is it so important to get things done? Is my greater concern what others think of me or what God thinks of me? Where is my value? Am I living out my position in Christ, resting in His love, or am I trying to earn it? The sidelong glances of others make me wonder if I'm on the right track... so I camped there for a while and here is the result:

Those aren't bad questions to ask (or answer) every once in a while. As I've worked through my heart, thoughts and attitudes, interacted with Scripture and other Christians this week, I concluded that one of the benefits of knowing my "bent," the way I'm wired, my "way" or preference, is that I can harness and use my design for the glory of God, knowing that my choices and outcome will be different than anyone else's.

My desires (referenced in James 1:14-15; 4:1-5) are often neutral: comfort, relief, peace, happiness, acceptance, order, accomplishment. They are not bad--in fact, they're God-given, God-reflective desires. But when a desire takes precedence over God, when any one of them becomes my goal, my savior, my chief objective, that's when I think, speak, and act sinfully. Seeking peace at any cost will result in sin. Choosing relief at the expense of responsibility will result in sin. On the other hand, praying for peace or relief and trusting God in the face of difficult circumstances or relationships will lead me to pray, think, and act in a way that honors Him.

The beauty is that as I live, read His word, and pray, I learn more about who I am: what I value and how I respond to the world around me. As I learn more about who God created me to be, I have opportunities to activate the Word of God and the Spirit of God to do the work of God in a way that only I can. One friend, in a moment of loss and grief, shared the gospel around a hospital bed. Another friend is exhibiting God in the midst of a strained marriage relationship. God has uniquely designed and placed each of us according to His good will and purpose.

In learning to be me, the key is to live by the grace of God instead of comparing myself to others or allowing their expectations to shape and form my becoming. Struggles with sin, wrong motives, wanting to please others, speaking when I should listen, expressing enthusiasm inappropriately, etc., are uniquely mine--and God is faithfully presenting opportunity to confess my sin and change. Seeing and knowing my sin is one of God's tools of humility, and that's not bad; it's good. He is using even my sin to make me more like Christ: humble, dependent, aware of my limits. That, too, is His hand on my life, teaching me how to glorify and honor Him with my response to His unique design in and through my physical body, intellect, abilities, nature, and desires.

Each of us is responsible to God. Others can (and should) help us see ourselves clearly. We can (and should) pray for one another, encourage one another, confront, and lovingly rescue one another. But life is a process of learning who I am, what makes me tick, and how God has designed me to honor and glorify Him, reflecting, more and more, the image of His precious, one-of-a-kind Son, Jesus Christ.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:1-11)

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