The traps we fall into
In the pursuit of Christlikeness, we tend to fall in different categories that fit our different personalities and lifestyles. I personally fall in the category of “boxers.” I am a planner and a list maker. My lifestyle exudes stress and I kind of like it that way. To borrow a quote from a friend of mine “I get high off of accomplishing things.” This is me through and through. I get so into managing my lifestyle and to-dos that It bleeds over into my spiritual walk. I plan my day and spare a solid fifteen minutes to do bible study so I can quite literally check it off my list. This puts me in the category of God-boxers; where He has His place and His time in my life, but that doesn’t translate to what God really desires which is to have my life.
Another category is the Christians “do gooders.” They act out right things in their daily life but are often times stuck in one place spiritually. In other words spiritual disciplines like bible study, abstaining from certain activities and even prayer are acted out, but only in one’s own strength. There’s nothing wrong with having a life filled with positive Christian messages and disciplines, but when they are only actions and not true convictions of the Holy Spirit, they can lead to a spiritual life that looks right but is really just stagnant water.
These two categories are equally comfortable, but unfulfilling to your spiritual walk. However, there are trends to differentiate the habits of those who fall in these categories and those who have fully committed their heart and life over to God.
Trend 1: Making time for fellowship with God isn’t a chore, it’s a joy
Psalm 63:5-8. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditated on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 16:11. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Remember times in your life that brought you joy, or hobbies and activities that bring you joy now; there’s a part of you that longs for that feeling. This is what the presence of God should be to us: a joy, a place of rest, and a time we long for.
Trend 2: We stop going to God with only our complaints
Philippians 4:6. Be anxious in nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
God wants to hear our hearts troubles, he knows us completely but he wants us to turn to him in praise and reveal our desires to him. In Psalm 20, the writer says that of hears our cry and will grand the desires of our heart, but he says that still we will shout with joy in the salvation of our Lord. There’ a proper way to come to the Lord with our heartaches. We are supposed to thank him first for all that he has done and acknowledge him for his majesty. Then we tell him our wants and He blesses us in His perfect way.
Trend #3: We do not hide our faith
Rom 12:9-21. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is the passage on the marks of a true Christian. These actions mark our lives as a Christian because the heart behind these actions reflect the love of God. When we surrender our life and say “ok God, I’m ready whatever you want to do through me,” He changes our hearts and these actions are the fruit. It becomes involuntary, like a second nature, but a NEW nature. When we are truly about God, our faith shows in all of our actions and we reflect the beauty of God in our own lives.
I urge you as my brother and sisters in Christ to reflect on your own life and do a “Spiritual Checkup”, as pastor Doug calls it. Be honest with yourself and see where you land. Are you a boxer? Are you acting only on your own strength in what you think is the right thing to do? Are you stuck in stagnant waters?
I will leave you with a prayer that I use regularly for my own life, but I pray this over you as well.
God, I thank you for the marvelous works that you have done. I thank you for the sacrifice you made on the cross for every soul that ever was and ever will be. I pray that you break my heart and reveal to me my own sin so that I can become like you. I want to love you and need you in every moment of every day. Though I uphold nothing in my life, I rest in knowing that you are the one who upholds me. I give my heart to you so that you can mold me and use me in your perfect plan. Thank you, Lord.