“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”(Colossians 3:16-17, ESV)
Life doesn’t often work out quite the way we plan. Like you, the Coronavirus has put me in the position these past months where I’ve had to look at projects that had been in the works for a while, to see whether they were going to happen as planned. As the “should we still do this?” question was asked again and again, here were the answers I received: yes, no, and not now.
Determining God’s will for me often results in one or more of those three answers. While I love having time to consult others I trust and letting God show me the things I need to know, you and I aren’t always given that luxury. Sometimes we just have time to put our head down, walk forward, and ask God to keep us from creating a problem worse than the one we’re trying to solve. The scripture above from Colossians has helped to remind me that the decisions we make ought to be an outflow of what God is already doing inside of us. Paul’s admonition to let the foundation of God’s word operating in our lives serve to inform ‘whatever we do’ is a necessary reminder for me of what’s really important to God.
So, what does that look like? What does it look like for God’s word to live in us in such a way that it would be described as rich? How does that happen?
May I first suggest how that doesn’t happen?
From my experience, and from what I see in Scripture, it doesn’t happen just by adopting some reading program. Programs can help, but they ALONE may not make the word of God dwell in you richly. More than likely, an idea entering our thinking is not going to kick our will into sustained action. If it did, then we’d all read the Bible in one year, exercise every day, go on date nights with our spouses and volunteer for nursery duty at church. So, just following a program isn’t it.
It’s also not guilt. While God can use guilt to convict us – the pain of guilt doesn’t last. We get over it way too easily. So, while the Holy Spirit can use guilt to light the fires of conviction — guilt alone seldom keeps those fires burning hot.
How about jealousy? Is that what does it? When you hear a sermon by someone who faithfully understands the Scriptures. When your soul is stirred by an amazing radio communicator. When you say to yourself “If only I had worked like they did, then I could be that good…” Will that move the needle to make lasting change?
What do you think?
It has taken me decades to come to this conclusion, but what sustains lasting change isn’t really that hard to understand. In reality – it’s something that most anyone can understand – and one of the ‘common graces’ God places in the heart of every human, whether he or she is saved or not. It’s desire.
Desire will be the tool God uses to accomplish lasting change in us. Desire will be the consistent prod God uses to lead you to the place where His word dwells in, guides, excites and changes us richly.
In past CMB morning devotions, I have suggested to you that the only sustainable way for any of us to change is by asking God to align our desires with His. Only He can give us a ‘want, to want to.’ Only He can produce in us a character that chases after Him.
None if that has changed.
Programs, guilt — even jealously may be found along the road that leads us to a place where we are willing to do the work required to make our lives a right dwelling place for the word of God. As we look in the rear-view mirror on that road, we may see evidence of God’s providence in using some of these tools to make us more like Him. But ultimately for you, as it has for me, I think it will boil down to this question.
What do you REALLY want, and how badly do you want it?
Sr. Director of Donor Engagement, KSBJ