There are some people who just seem to have this internal sense of direction. They could be in the middle of nowhere and find their way home. I’m not one of those people. I don’t know what it is, but if I need to go right, I will go left. I really have to fight against my natural inclination when it comes to directions. One would think that with GPS, this matter would be resolved. Have you ever been driving and your GPS tells you to “Turn left in 500 feet” and there are multiple exits? Of course, I panic because I don’t know which exit to take and as soon as I turn, what do I hear? Rerouting!!!
I believe in our spiritual lives we constantly struggle to fight against our natural inclinations. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 instructs us to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. However, there are times when my ability to rejoice, pray, and give thanks fluctuates according to my circumstances. For example, I find it hard to rejoice in the middle of storms and dry seasons of life. My natural inclination is not to say, “Thank you Jesus for this trial because I know it’s going to help make me more like you.” Rather, I feel like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with God to take my pain away from me. If you have been there like I have, l would like to offer 3 ways I have found that help me fight against my natural inclinations:
1) Start with Obedience
One definition of obedience offered by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon is this: one who conforms his conduct to God's commands, absolutely. If obedience could be boiled down to its lowest common denominator, the result would be behavior. Think about this for a moment, since the moment we are born until we get to a ripe old age, we are constantly being shown how our behaviors need to be modified. Our natural inclination has always been disobedience. We think it’s cute, but typically one of the first words a child learns is “no.” It’s cute until that same attitude flows over into the late adolescents and the early teenage years, when it becomes an issue because the behavior that is being displayed in not matching what has been taught. The same is true in our spiritual walk. We see so many of the Bible heroes act out in disobedience and as we read their story, we never make the leap, that we do the very same things. If we are quick to respond to God with “Not my will, but your will,” we can avoid some major landmines. Remember, obedience cannot be practiced in partiality, it must be an absolute surrender of our own wants and preferences.
2) Make conscious choices
I am not saying, that I have perfected this by any means, but what I am constantly aware of is no matter my circumstance, God gives me the choice of how to react. Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks is a daily choice. That is why it has to be a conscious decision on our part to make these our natural responses. So much of our choices tie directly back to our behaviors. When I am upset, I have to fight my natural inclination to speak without thinking. My emotions can at times, can get the best of me, especially when dealing with disobedience. But here again, I have the choice how to react. What’s important to remember is sometimes we cannot undo words that have been misspoken. The reality is people can forgive, but few rarely forget. Make every effort to make deliberate choices each day to love, rejoice, give thanks, and pray relentlessly.
3) See people through the eyes of God
Out of all three, this last one is probably the most difficult. It’s easy to see people through the eyes of God when we are agreeable. However, it becomes significantly more difficult to see people through God’s eyes when there is a difference of opinion; when we feel like someone has hurt us; when we are being skeptical; or simply being judgmental. All these negative emotions lead us further away from the love God made us with. So, what does this mean? When we see people through God’s eyes, we love the unlovable, we forgive the unforgivable, we offer grace instead of harsh words, instead of judging we show compassion and mercy, and above all we see people not as messed up, but another one of God’s unique masterpieces.
Remember to be a blessing to someone else today!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson