“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.”
Galatians 5:15-21 NIV
Paul makes it sounds so simple here. If you live by the Spirit, the problem of sin is conquered…right? So what does it mean to “live by the Spirit” and how do I do it? Yesterday, Pastor suggested that we do this not by “acting right”, but by finding our identity in Christ. He said that who we believe ourselves to be determines how we will actually live. This I can understand.
I find myself often writing about work on these blogs…so here I go again. Last week I was away at a national sales meeting in Las Vegas. This is a time when all of the sales reps, VP’s and home office people come together to hone skills, politic, and show case (show off) their talent. I have said before, that I have the hardest time living out my faith when I am at work. This could not have been more true of last week.
Before I left on Monday, I prayed to God that I would represent him well. That I would act like someone who called Christ “Lord”….knowing that I would fail on some level once I was immersed in such a worldly environment.
When I read the list of acts associated with the sinful nature…discord, jealousy, selfish ambitions, and dissensions, I realize that these are the words that characterized many of my thoughts and some of my behaviors at my meeting. I found myself complaining about everything that was wrong with my company and frustrated by the lack of recognition I was getting. By Wednesday I was feeling like a big failure at being a good Christian. Once again I had let God down. Is this what it means to be “under the law”?
Then something cool happened. While at dinner on Wednesday night, a lady that I work with (I’ll call her Lisa) tearfully opened up to me about her struggle with Celiac disease. Lisa had a tough upbringing, but had overcome hardships through hard work and determination. Her identity was in being that one person who never ran out of energy. She could maintain a demanding but lucrative job and still be supermom. Celiac had robbed her of that. It seemed to me that she was grieving the loss of her old identity…..so….I found it the perfect opportunity to open the door to a conversation about Jesus, and what it’s like to live with identity in Him. And we agreed to get together again soon and talk more!
The reason I am bringing this up here, is after I left her that night and went to my room, instead of feeling condemned (like I did before our talk), I felt love, joy, and peace…..what’s promised when we live by the Spirit! I remember feeling so loved by my Father. Even though I had not behaved perfectly at my meeting, He still found me worthy to share testimony with others. I still belong to Him. Why do I so often forget this and live as one “under the law”?
Jesus, next week help me remember who I am. I am loved and I am yours. I pray that with that knowledge I will “bear fruit” instead of managing my behavior. I love you! I love you! I love you!!!