The grace, mercy and peace that one receives when one simply trusts Jesus far exceeds our self-kudos for personal accomplishments. What sets genuine Christianity apart from all the cults and religions of the world is that it’s not another way to work one’s way to heaven. It is how God moved heaven and earth to bring salvation to us through simple faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul goes to great length in Galatians to say that discipleship isn’t about learning techniques and rules for bringing my behavior (or others) into conformity with God’s expectations. It is about feeding my inner man by faith and watching the character grow. It results in spontaneously pleasing God because I want to not because I have to. You can’t fake it. It has to grow from within. Nothing matters except a new creation. ‘But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.’ Galatians 6:14,15 Believe by faith that you are dead to the world. And by faith, fill up your inner man. Here’s how:
1. Practice gratitude. This is why we teach children to say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It promotes a heart of gratitude like Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame, ‘Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.’ The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. Entitlement grows an ugly fruit of sullen, angry, demanding, & greedy attitudes (not like – love, patience, kindness, & joy). Rather we should reflect Nick Vujicic: ‘Often people ask me how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.’
2. Practice praise. Praise is an outward expression of pride in something impressive that Jesus has done. It’s called ‘getting your God-swagger on. As a child of God our whole reason to exist is to give God praise. As A.W. Tozer once wrote, ‘In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He will that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.’ The opposite of this is ‘the little world of me’. In this world I excel in the criticism of others while I blame God for the ills of my life! I rarely soar to the heavens in the simple joy and release of praising and trusting Jesus.
3. Practice worship. If praise is thanking God for his blessings, then worship is tarrying in His presence (instead of just dropping the thank you note off). The aforementioned A.W. Tozer wrote, ‘Without worship, we go about miserable’. Or as someone else observed, ‘If you come to worship for any reason other than the joy and pleasure and satisfaction that are to be found in God, you dishonor Him. God’s greatest delight is your delight in Him.’ The opposite of worship is narcissism, which means that I am captivated by myself!! I am enchanted by and filled with affection for myself instead of God. It sounds silly on paper and we hate it in others but if you don’t worship God some addiction will tell on you. A narcissist gets exactly what he wants: an eternity in hell with himself, cut off from God, other humans, stuck in blackest darkness without even the light & beauty of nature, forever.
So I say, ‘Fill your life with gratitude and praise and worship and do what you want!’ Let the fruit of the Spirit grow.