Developing a bit more thought on the “just be honest about wanting” theme…
What does God tell us His expectations of our behavior?
Luke 18:17 Truly I say to you,whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Luke 18: 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
God tells us that He expects us to ask Him for what we want, with the honesty – and the trust – of a child. He tells us to persist in prayer. Is that what we do?
No. We pretend that we don’t want what we do want – which is logically foolish, since God knows what’s in our minds and hearts, better than we do. We stop asking before we get a firm “no”, and we don’t trust Him to give us something good, even if what we asked for *was* no. It’s not like He’s not going to give us something better!
Really. Even those who suffer temporally, if they’re truly suffering because they’re in God’s will… do you not think they’ll be rewarded eternally? So – they get the better end of the bet. The times I’ve been disciplined for idolatry, every time I’ve received lessons in character, and wisdom that I’ve been able to then share with others for the good of the kingdom. Isn’t that worth more than the temporary scratching of the itch?
But we still have to be honest and childlike. A child trusts, and a child asks, and a child reminds if the need stays unmet.
Here’s the parable of the pharisee and the publican. We’ve all read this a million times, but do we think about it? The publican was being honest – he didn’t pretend to be what he wasn’t. When we come to Christ as helpless sinners, He transforms us. When we come to Him on our own merits, we are damned. So why do we *keep* pretending to have our own merit? Why???
Luke 18:9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two menwent up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be [f]merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The social expectation of a good Christian looks a lot like the social expectation of a good Pharisee, 2000 years ago. Good – on the outside at all costs, including the truth.
As I reflect, I wonder… is there anywhere in the Bible that indicates that we are capable (or expected) to change the inner self? If it could have been done, wouldn’t the Pharisees have cleaned the inside of those cups as well as the outer? I don’t think we have the capability to cleanse (or change) our insides. That is the job of the Spirit.
Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I’m not saying that obedience is unimportant. But obedience too should be childlike – because we do what pleases our Father. We are never asked to make ourselves feel a certain way, we’re just asked to obey. Simply, with trust.
God in His incarnation as the Holy Spirit can – and will – change our insides as we grow in Him, surrender to His will and His work in our lives, and as He so pleases. And we know that He does so please, because He has told us exactly what He plans for us.
I’ll leave you with this, because I’m still contemplating its beauty… really, this whole blog is still in my head and my heart, but I wanted to share. Here you go. 🙂
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
God’s got this. 🙂