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Friday, May 31, 2013

Not a program, but LIFE

Got a question from a dear friend, that sparked some good thoughts from God, I will share them here.

The question

So I struggle with my temper and I find myself a bit confused today.  I have a quote here from Gary Chapman that seemed to speak to me and sounded accurate.....  he says :
"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  It is NOT the fruit of self effort.  It is NOT a commitment to TRY to be like Jesus, rather, yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit so He can express the qualities of Jesus through us."

However, Colossions 3:8 says
"But now you must rid yourself of all things such as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."

So yes I know Gary Chapman's quote is not scripture but it seems to make sense, it's not of my own effort but the scripture says "Now YOU MUST RID YOURSELF....."

Is it something I do or something God does???

The reply

yes it is something you do
yes it is something God does

Our desire to change, to "rid yourself", to "put off", flows from His work in us.  His victory is what enables us.  His Life is what gives us the desire.  The change in our hearts over time will be reflected in what proceeds from our lips.  
If we devise a plan to 'stop being angry.'   And that plan somehow worked, we would get the glory.  We would have accomplished it through the flesh.

If we overcome it through weakness, then He gets the glory.  In other words, "confess your faults to one another and you will be healed."  Admitting our inability to defeat anger, we throw ourselves on His mercy and grace, 
that great song we sing in church, 
"when I cannot stand, I'll fall on You, Holiness is Christ in me.", is some of the most amazing truth I have ever sung in a song not written by William Cowper, or Charles Wesley.

So Chapman is right, it is not through our own "self-effort" that we get fruit;  and Paul is right, the heart that is in love with Jesus, will be highly motivated to put off and rid itself of anything that does not please Him.  How it does that is the crux of the matter, 
not through a "program" but through "life."   
 In fact I would consider the "tender conscience" to be one of the greatest things that comes to us automatically as a result of being 'born again.'  And the 'tender conscience' is injured very easily when we KNOW that we need to apologize, ask forgiveness, or humble ourselves in someway in order to be reconciled to another and we choose NOT too.  At that very moment, we have justified our self, our action, or whatever and we have stepped out from under the covering of the grace of God.  SELF will look for ANY, and I mean ANY other way to overcome anger, that does not involve the humiliation of admitting sin.

Bonus thought at no extra cost....

The church is an organism primarily, not an organization.  The organization aspect is necessary, Paul would appoint elders and deacons, etc., but the organization should not be over-done.  It should serve the organism.  When the reverse starts to happen, the organization has grown too big.


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