The one word which describes virtually all people is busy. That was certainly true of Jesus. Read Mark’s gospel and you cannot help but notice the oftentimes frenetic pace of Jesus’ life. He often ministered all day and night, without even time to eat; then He would be up early the next day before dawn to pray, after which He would travel to another town for more ministry (Mark 1).
Scripture confirms what observation perceives: laziness never leads to Godliness. At the same time, business alone never leads to Godliness. The church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) is an example. The point here is that the spiritual disciplines are not intended only for people who have tons of free time. Instead, they are the God-given means by which busy believers become more like their Lord and Savior.
Throughout your life you will need to evaluate and re-evaluate your priorities. Being able to rightly prioritize your life is a key to maturity—not only on a spiritual level but on any level. Do not consider the spiritual disciplines as additional weight. They are actually one means by which God lightens your load. God’s voice regarding priorities will best be heard while practicing the spiritual disciplines.
God offers and provides His life changing grace, not just to people with loads of time on their hands, but to errand-running, hard-working, stressed-out, homework-heavy, extracurricular-busy believers through the spiritual disciplines.
We must be persistent.
- John 15:9
- Acts 13:43
- Galatians 6:9
- 2 Timothy 2:1-7
- 2 Timothy 3:14
- Hebrews 12:1
- 1 Peter 1:13
- Revelation 3:11
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit indwells every believer and creates within every believer a hunger for holiness; a desire to be like Christ.
Philippians 1:6— “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ.”
2 Timothy 1:7— “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (“Sound mind” means self-control or self-discipline.)
According to Galatians 5:22-24 self-control, among other things, is a “fruit” of the Spirit’s control in a believer’s life. The Holy Spirit will empower and enable the believer to persevere.
Scripture does not explain the mechanics of the Spirit’s ministry. How any spiritual discipline is prompted and produced by Him on one hand, yet on the other hand it is our responsibility to discipline ourselves for the purpose of Godliness is mysterious. Still, these two things are clear:
The Spirit enables every believer to persevere to the end.
The believer must not harden his heart, but instead must respond to the Spirit’s promptings.
It would be a mistake to think of the spiritual disciplines as a part of the Christian life unrelated to the fellowship of believers. Spiritual maturity includes growth in fellowship with God and growth in fellowship with the children of God (1 John 1:3).
Understand the difference between socializing - sharing of earthly life - and fellowship - sharing of spiritual life. We often settle for the former when we urgently need the latter.
One of God’s purposes of fellowship is to supplement the disciplines and to stimulate our growth in Godliness through them. Obviously, the spiritual disciplines have nonpublic applications, but they were never meant to be practiced apart from fellowship in the New-Covenant community - a local church.
Don’t be a lone ranger. Heed the warning of Hebrews 3:13, “exhort [encourage] one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Fellowship is required in order to “encourage one another.”
Read 1 Timothy 4. Being a Christian doesn’t make your life easy, and the spiritual disciplines will not make your Christian life easier. Serving Christ is glorious, fulfilling, and eternal, but it is difficult and exhausting. It’s a struggle. Becoming like Christ involves a lot more than to “let go and let God.”
Is this works theology instead of grace? Does this mean we are saved by grace but become holy by works of the flesh (Ga. 3:3)? NO! Advance in the Christian life comes not by the work of the Spirit alone, and not by your work alone. It comes by your responding to and cooperating with the grace the Holy Spirit initiates and sustains (Colossians 1:24-29).
Do not be naïve. A believer has the Spirit of God within, but the flesh still wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). Realize the reality of this struggle and be motivated to faithfulness in those practices whereby the Spirit of God will enable and empower you to be victorious over the enemies of God—the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
Praise God for the truth of 1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Stop and Consider
“Oh, God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”What are some things and/or people that consume your time?
- Jonathan Edwards
Practice the spiritual disciplines in light of eternity. Would you spend your time and make choices differently if you saw everything from the perspective of eternity? The practice of spiritual disciplines when viewed through eyes “stamped with eternity” become a priceless priority because of its intimate connection with Godliness. This has always been God’s plan - 1 Timothy 4:7-8.