Title: Lent Time
Key Verses: Galatians 6:7-10
Topic: Following the calling of God’s spirit in our lives
Part 3: Understanding the call
But what exactly should we do to satisfy our Spiritual nature and to avoid our sinful nature? There are numerous lists in the Bible of positive and negative acts. Galatians contains a pretty good overview of appropriate and inappropriate actions. Consider:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 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 not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
I don’t want to dwell on each of these items at this time. What I do want to highlight again though is the intentionality of these acts. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
We must understand that our motivation is the key. As I mentioned earlier, if my family doesn’t meet our family goals for 2006, we haven’t necessarily failed. Circumstances change. We sometimes miss the mark. We all suffer setbacks. The important thing is how we deal with those setbacks. Do we simply give up and call it failure, or do we reassess the situation and modify our plan so that we can keep moving forward? Do we quit, or do we persevere as Paul tells us to do in verse 9: “we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer provides us with the concept of “The Visible Community” in his book, The Cost of Discipleship. Consider:
Thus the life of the Christian community in the world bears permanent witness to the truth that “the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Cor, 7:31), that the time is short (I Cor. 7:29) and the Lord is nigh (Phil. 4:5). […] The world is growing too small for the Christian community, and all it looks for is the Lord’s return. It still walks in the flesh, but with eyes upturned to heaven, whence he for whom they wait will come again. […] They show the love of God to all men, “but specially to them that are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10, II Pet. 1:7). […] But they are only passing through the country. At any moment they may receive the signal to move on. Then they will strike tents, leaving behind them all their worldly friends and connections, and following only the voice of their Lord who calls. They leave the land of their exile, and start their homeward trek to heaven.
Bonhoeffer: pg 269-270.
As Christians, we are a Visible Community. We live within the world, yet we are striving for a life of salvation in heaven. The question to ask here is, “Are our eyes upturned to heaven”? And do we use Jesus’ example to live our lives?
Are we making the most of this time that we have been lent? As Paul mentions in Galatians 6:9: “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’” Thus, it is important to be disciplined and to intentionally use the time that we have been given, this Lent Time, to make every day count and to look to that long awaited harvest.
Coming up next: Part 4: Putting the call into action