Thursday, April 7, 2016

Living life whose way - our way or God's way?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.
Galatians 5:19-21 The Message

This passage of scripture contains a list of very interesting behaviours. I imagine that if we are really honest with ourselves, we can relate to some of them - grabs for happiness, divided lives, small-minded pursuits - all various degrees of selfishness. It can be a bit confronting if we seriously look at each area of our lives and examine the real motives for our actions.

Thankfully, as always, God not only gives us a 'picture' of what happens when we do life our own way, but He also gives us a 'picture' of a life of hope, showing us what life can be like if we make choices to live His way.

But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Galatians 5:22-24 The Message

I have verses 22 and 23 on laminated cards on my kitchen cupboards (yes, I know that is not the designer look, however it works for me) as I was reading them last night, I reflected on the changes that the Holy Spirit has made in my life, particularly the idea of 'not needing to force our way in life'. Before becoming a Christian, a lot of my life goals were driven by material success and achievement - not really for the benefit of anyone else other than myself. However since becoming a Christian almost 20 years ago, God has gently worked in my heart, teaching me His ways, enlarging my heart with a greater love for people, knocking off some of the materialism and selfishness that were strongholds in my life. There is still a long way to go, but that little reflection last night was so encouraging, reminding me that His way of living is definitely the best way.

Question for today, as you read the first passage of scripture -v 19-21, does the Holy Spirit quicken any particular behaviour to you? If so, I encourage you to spend some time asking Him what to do about it, and then do what He leads you to do. Because this life if so much better if we do it His way.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Galatians 5:25-26 AMP The Message

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