Monday, July 12, 2004

Hashing it out

Galatians 5:6b says:
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.

I love God's Word. And, despite this, I don't read it nearly enough. It encourages me and humbles me at the same time. Reading it, I simply feel like "this is where I belong."

I am studying the fruit of the Spirit for the MOPS talk in september. It occurs to me how little I have of said fruit, and how I cannot manufacture it on my own. Of course only the Holy Spirit enables me to produce such fruit. (Thanks be to God who gives us "everything we need for life and godliness" (2Pet 1:3) namely, his Spirit.) Paul makes it clear throughout the book that the sinful nature is completely contradictory to the things of the Spirit. I can only live by one of these things at a time. Either I live according to my sin nature, or I live by the Spirit.

Of course there is a deep and unbreakable connection between living by the Spirit and being in God's Word. When I don't read regularly I become the person I hate - cynical, judgemental, angry, selfish, rude, envious. I get mad at the "world" in this self-righteous sort of way; getting angry about how "they" act and how "they" treat me; getting mad at "injustice" because of how it makes me feel without ever thinking from God's perspective (all sin being an offense against Him.) If I go too long, I am well on my way in a journey toward bitterness - and it seems like that trip always begins at the depot called self-centeredness. Yuck-o.

All the while I keep thinking how nice it would be to spend some time reading my Bible. Praying. (As if that is some lofty notion and can only be accomplished on a remote mountain in Tibet.) What REALLY keeps me from reading: I am not interested in having my flaws revealed. I already know that God's word is "sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Heb 4:12) That's why I don't read it - because I don't want to deal with my junk (filth, actually.) I want to see the filth in everybody else and just sit pretty and think that I am fine. This, of course, is much easier, and a lot less painful.

So, I linger outside the umbrella of God's word, knowing what I should be doing, wanting to do it, but not doing it (The old "I do what I do not want to do" syndrome, as recorded in Romans 7.) I choose sin nature over Spirit because it is easier to stay the way I am than it is to change. (Of course it's raining where I'm standing... and it's beginning to make me crabby, but I try to ignore that.)

But God revealed something to me the other day while I was driving. It ain't earth shattering, but it's timely for me. This is what he said: it is impossible to be in God's will and yet be unwilling to change. I either have to deal with my filth, or resign myself to being outside of His will.

So, I start reading my Bible again tonight. I've been waiting for so long (for WHAT, I don't know) to read it again. And I am reminded that all the "stuff" I do in my day does not matter if it is not done in love.

Now, here is the connection. I have no love when I am away from His word. I cannot manufacture it. Everything, from making dinner for my family (which I generally dislike) to planning for the upcoming mission trip (which is becoming an organizational challenge) DO NOT MATTER because I am not doing them out of love for my family or my church. I am just doing them because I "have to."

Then, the worst part is, I use these (and many other) "have to" chores as my (false?) excuse for not spending time in the word. It is a vicious cycle - and I know it...

Anyway, all of this to say I cannot do this life without the word of God encouraging me and exhorting me AND CHANGING me. I simply cannot do it on my own.

I belong in God's will and His word. I love that belonging. I love HIM!

Oh, that His ways would be my ways.......



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