14 February 2014

Do Not Try Harder

Really? Am I really sitting here at my computer blogging? I have someone coming over today and my house is in full disarray. I have enough dog and cat hair clinging to the furniture and floors to assemble several more pets. My kitchen is filthy. There are fig trees growing in my sink.  OK, I said that for shock value. The trees are in small pots and they are in the sink because they were just watered, but you get the idea, right?  I should be putting my house in order. 

The truth of the matter is I am putting my house in order, my spiritual house is almost always reflected in the way I take care of my home. I need to take a time out, prioritize my life, and the truth is, for all my studying I have been leaving out the doing part. It's all well and good to know the answers regarding what we should do as believers in Christ, but knowing isn't enough. 

There is a constant battle we face as believers.  The natural tendency of our hearts is to go to extremes. We want to be legalistic in our faith. If we only follow a prescribed formula of what to do and what not to do, God will be well pleased with us. We want God to be pleased with us because a happy God would certainly see the merit in sending us to heaven, right?   But the bible clearly tells us that we don't earn our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. That sends us crashing to the other side of the extreme; license to do whatever we'd like. 

The bible has something to say about that too. Shall I continue to sin so that grace may abound?  It's a rhetorical question. We know the answer is a resounding, "NO! May it never be!"  When we continue in the same unbroken sinful patterns it is generally evidence of having a faith that doesn't save, the very sort of faith James warns us about. 

The answer for our dilemma?  Isaiah said, "In repentance and rest is your salvation."  Repentance and rest.  It doesn't say, "Repent and try harder!"  It says repentance and rest.  That is where we find our balance in Christ.

Think of a teeter-totter. There is only one narrow spot on which you can stand without tipping to the left (license) or the right (legalism). It's found in the center. That spot is where you can find rest in Jesus.  He is the fulcrum upon which we are able to stand.  I am not suggesting we are without responsibility for our actions. Repentance is an action. Absorbing God's Word is how the Holy Spirit teaches us to recognize when we have strayed off that narrow spot, and it is He that beckons us to repent and return to rest. 

My friends, don't try harder. Repent quicker and rest longer. That's the part I have been leaving out. The rest. 

Isa 30:15
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and  rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
NASB

Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
ESV

Eph 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
ESV