Meanderings of a Minister


5 Easy Ways to Wreck Your Life: Week 4: Focus Only On The Outside
March 13, 2014, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Articles

5-Part Series on Change

If you have followed this series of articles, I hope you have been challenged to begin to look at your life and your approach to change.  I hope it has caused you to reassess some of the New Year’s resolutions that have come and gone by the wayside.  In looking hard at our lives, I hope, if you are in Christ, you have seen the work God is doing and are convinced, like Paul, that “That He Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 1:6)

In the first week, we said an easy way to wreck your life was to change for the sake of change and without any kind of goal or aim in mind.  The second way was just as “wreckful”:  change inconsistently.  Go one direction and then another and never persevere or complete anything.  Just go with the flow and let the wind blow you where it may.  Last week was related to this week in that we said you could easily wreck your life by changing things that don’t matter.  Just deal with trivial matters that no one cares about and you can spin your wheels and wreck into the snowbank of expectations.

As I hope you have in the last few weeks, begin by reading Matthew 23:25-28.  In these verses, Jesus is criticizing the Pharisees, or “religious people”.  He is criticizing them for trying to put on their church-go-to-meetin’ clothes with their church-go-to-meetin’ attitudes and airs.  In doing so, they thought they were pretty good.  After all, they had washed their hands for the proper amount of time.  They had walked no more than the allowed number of steps.  They had stopped to kiss the mezuzah on their doorframe.  They had brought large offerings.  Sound familiar?

If we are not careful, we can be guilty of the same way of thinking.  We can think we are holy because we go to church.  We can look down on those that come to church in jeans or worse.  We can feel spiritually superior because we tithe and give offerings above that.  We can feel like we are pleasing God because we serve on three committees, teach a class and are on the board.  We are so busy with the things on the outside, we rarely take the time to check the inside.

The strange thing about this particular way to wreck our lives is that it can deaden our sense of sensing something is wrong.  Since we are so involved in the outer activities, we may not realize that our love for God and for others has waned.  We might not realize that our passion for God’s Word and God’s Wife (the Church) has petered out.  We might not realize that sinful attitudes (like pride) have crept in and filled up the spaces in our hearts where compassion should be.  If we are not careful, we even shrug off the conviction of the Holy Spirit, when He tries to tell us we are slipping away from the close fellowship with Him we once had.

So…what is the answer?  How do I keep from wrecking my life this way?  It is actually so simple that it is complicated.  We must start with the inside and trust God to change the inside and that those changes will translate to the outside.  Now, I am not suggesting that we are unconcerned about obvious sin.  Actually, when God is working on the inside, it has to work its way to the outside.  Here are some suggestions to help if you are struggling with this in various areas.

  1. Pray and give yourself to God anew each and every time you enter church and ask Him to not allow you to leave without communicating with you about what is in your heart.
  2. Think about the words of the songs you are asked to sing.  If you can’t sing them with an honest conscience, don’t sing them.  Pray instead and get your heart right so you can.
  3. Before you give your offering, picture in your mind the souls that will be touched through the ministry of your church.
  4. Before teaching your class, pray as John the Baptist, “He must increase.  I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  5. When the invitation starts, pray for those that need to respond and ask God if you need to set the example by going to recommit yourself to Him so others will feel it is acceptable to seek the help they need.
  6. You fill in the blank.

Let’s not wreck our lives by looking only on the outside.  Instead, let’s build a heart and life that will matter eternally by exposing our hearts to God and others, so we can learn what is in there and it can be changed.  That will take care of the outside.

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