There is no coasting in the Christian life and there also is no retirement. God sets before me a goal. I am to press on toward that goal. If I stop, I am in a state of disobedience.
This morning I was wondering about fatigue and feeling listless. The word retirement may have come to mind. “Tired” definitely did. Spurgeon’s devotional didn’t address my lethargy, but Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) hit the bull’s eye. He used this verse to tell me what I already knew:
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:4)God’s Word says the same thing in other places. The goal is perfection, fully like Jesus Christ. I know I am not there yet.
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)Chambers says that I can be all right in general but careless, even unkept or slovenly in some areas. He says this isn’t so much about sin as it is about “the remnants of the carnal life” adding that such slovenliness is an insult to the Holy Spirit. I don’t agree about this not being sin, but do agree that a lax attitude is an insult to God.
Nothing should be done in a careless way, whether it is eating and drinking, or how I worship God. My relationship to Him must be right, but also the external expression of that relationship. For instance, I’ve noticed how easy it is for God’s people to bring to the church items that they have replaced at home. Old sofas or outdated decor is offered to God. Is this one example of a slovenly and carnal expression of worship? Doesn’t He deserve the best that we have?
What about my attitude when I woke up this morning? I wanted to stay in bed, felt grumpy, and had little joy in my heart or any desire to get up and prepare for church. If I stay this way and go anyway, is this not another example of a carnal way of worship?
Chambers says, and I agree, that God will let nothing escape. Every detail of my life is under His scrutiny. If I do not learn how to be like Jesus in one area, He will bring me back to the same point over and over again until I learn the lesson. He has a goal for me and will not stop until the finished product rolls off the assembly line.
Those carnal areas show up in old age. If I like personal comfort, that will come out when my bones ache in the morning. If I am lazy, that will show up at the end of the day when I turn on the television instead of finishing a chore He has given me. If I like to compete and win over others, it will show up every time someone cuts me off in traffic even though I am driving the speed limit.
Growing older does not put God’s people at the top of a playground slide. It is more like standing at the bottom of a multistory skyscraper and being handed a ladder. He sees many levels that I have yet to conquer. His desire for my perfection is not only picky, but relentless.
I love the days that God turns my heart toward the wonder of my redemption and salvation. Yesterday’s reminder of my eternal security was a deep blessing. I know that I stand complete in Christ and am accepted in the Beloved because of Him. Yet the Holy Spirit whispers again to me that I am still a work in progress and that I must let endurance work in me. I must watch out for that attitude that is content with mediocrity or that says “Oh, that will have to do for now.”
****************God, forgive and cleanse the laxness from my heart. Your goal never changes. You tell me to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord my labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58) and “to not grow weary of doing good, for in due season I will reap, if I do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). You also say that “they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). I need all of this plus the fullness of Your Spirit to keep pressing on toward the goal.