June 15, 2016

Diligence starts small

Faith is practical because faith is not just for the big challenges of life. I am to do my chores trusting God and filled with His Spirit. The same truth goes for answering the telephone (even talking to telemarketers), buying groceries, making a quilt, visiting with other Christians and with those who are not, and whatever else I am doing.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Chambers says it this way: There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God’s way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God.

How does this happen? For me, and I suspect every Christian, it is in the practice of spiritual disciplines. I cannot produce the grace of God in my heart, nor can I push a button and make Him fill me with His Spirit, but I can put myself in places where these are more likely. (Even doing that takes His grace, otherwise I would not!)

Spiritual disciplines are defined several ways. This list shows that they are all-inclusive: purity, marriage, parenting, friendship, mind, devotion, prayer, worship, integrity, tongue, work, perseverance, church, leadership, giving, witness, and ministry . . . (from R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man).

Whatever terms are used, spiritual discipline means welcoming the life of Christ into everything that I do. It is about thinking, talking, and living by faith and in the power of the One who saves me. Peter said that in Christ we are given all we need to do that, therefore . . .  

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:5–9)

Note, this does not say that the person who lacks these qualities is not saved, but that he is nearsighted and forgetful. I can remind and minister to that person, but also am to make every effort to do the adding in my own life. Again, I cannot make myself godly or do this alone, but I have inherited the Divine nature, and through the power of God, I can form habits, give diligence, concentrate.

Jesus spoke about those being faithful in “little” also being faithful in “much.” This means starting small. If I cannot keep my bathroom clean, who is going to trust me with an entire house? If I cannot be loyal to one friend, how can I be loyal to many?

Starting small is easier than trying to start at the top. It will not happen that way. As Chambers says, the common stuff of ordinary life exhibits the marvel of the grace of God . . .  and the great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. “Jesus took a towel …, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

Adding is difficult because it can be done only by faith. I may never see what God does with the tiniest detail in which I obey, but must trust that all the omnipotent power of the grace of God is behind it. If I believe that God is in all of my life and circumstances, then when I obey I am unleashing His amazing grace into the world, whether I can see the results or not.

Everyone knows the nearsighted and forgetful Christians. Do those who are not adding and not increasing realize how much they are missing? Do they realize how much the world is missing because of their neglect?

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10)

Jesus is here for me. Because of Him, it is possible to be diligent!

1 comment:

Darrell said...

As always, I am blessed with your writing!