Oh the Lord has been stirring in my heart… this need to be right… this need to be “good” but honestly doing it completely in the natural–not asking the Holy Spirit to inspire me, to actually cause heart-change, to create in me a desire to trust Him fully and change my character. No, I’d rather put on my “big-girl pants” and strive my heart, soul, energy, and me out…
This morning I was reading in “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. This book has been (almost daily) a way for the Lord to pierce my heart, dividing joint and marrow, and cutting out the things in me that honestly just need to go.
The title of this morning’s reading was, “The Offense of the Natural.” The central verse was Galatians 5:24, but I’ll add in verse 25 & 26 because they hit home to me this morning too.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us know become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Ouch. I have become conceited, easily provoked, and crazy envious this week. My natural passions and desires (my sinful nature) have become so forefront to who I am that I easily forget that I am supposed to marked by Heaven and be different. I’m not supposed to be driven by my sinful nature, but to crucify it, to lay it down, to count it all as loss, and surrender my will to His.
I have been in this constant state of ignoring God. I mean, I do my “Christian duties” and read my Bible, gather with my local church, even meet with an accountability partner. But when it comes down to it, I am not surrendering my will to Him, fully. I pray and ask Jesus to be with me and inspire my moves, but when the rubber meets the road I take the “good” route and dig my heels in and do what I think is good, not the “great” route of relying on the Holy Spirit for my sustenance.
I just have to include some thoughts from Chambers from todays reading (Dec 9th).
It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keep us back from God’s best. To discern that natural virtues antagonize surrender to God, is to bring our soul into the center of its greatest battle.
I love how Chambers puts it, “natural virtues antagonize surrender to God.” When we try and pull up our boot straps and be good and do good, we are actually living in opposition to God’s best for us. When we do things out of our own strength it’s like we’re spitting in God’s face saying, “No, God, I can do this myself. I don’t really need the help of the Almighty God who knows WAY better than I do what to do in a situation like this.” How arrogant can I be? But that is often how it goes. Often how I respond. Often what my first reaction is. I may not actually think those things in my mind, or even in my heart, but that is exactly what my actions are saying at that moment–“Nope, God, I definitely know better than you and I’m just going to go with my gut here and do what I ‘know’ is best.” Jesus, crucify that in me. I don’t want to be an arrogant woman anymore. I want to be one that is fully surrendered to you and lays down my agenda and feelings and ‘rights’ to be a woman who would trust and rely on You.
It is the good that hates the best, and the higher up you get in the scale of the natural virtues, the more intense is the opposition to Jesus Christ.
Did you read that? Go back and read it again… No really… …”It is the good that hates the best…” When we try and do good out of our own power we are really hating the best, Jesus, who knows much better than us what is right in every situation.
‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself,’ i.e., his right to himself…
“His right to himself…” I need to realize more often that when I do things in my own strength, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I am taking up my cross and following myself. I’m not denying myself my earthly passions and desires, I’m telling them that they are ultimate and that the God who created me doesn’t really know best. I don’t have a right to myself, just like a painting doesn’t have a right to call its worth, or a statue to suddenly declare that its artist didn’t sculpt it correctly. I am a piece of artwork, finely crafted by the Master’s hand, and my work is to do the will of Him who sent me. Not to suddenly decide that the agenda has changed and I am now fully capable of doing whatever I’d like.
The natural life is not spiritual, and it can only be made spiritual by sacrifice. If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us. There is no royal road there; each of us has it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but performing.
I think the quote above is the one that I need to keep reciting. I need to sacrifice. I need to not get easily offended when I feel like my good work is going unnoticed. I need to not get all huffed up when I feel like I’m undervalued or passed over. I need to surrender my pride and my agenda when I feel like things aren’t going the way I would plan them to go. And I need to not only pray, but perform. I can do all the praying I want, and genuinely want the Holy Spirit to move in me, but then I have to move. I have to act. I have to behave in the way He inspires me to. Not just to wait and sit and see if He will do something in me. I have to believe that He has done that thing in my heart already and He will give me the power to act in it.
Jesus, I ask for the change in my character, and my heart-set, but then I ask for a change in my behavior. Help me to put into action all of the things I’ve learned today. To not be a train stuck in a rut, but to believe you and gain some momentum!