Imagine this senario. You have company coming over Saturday night and the house is a mess. You have a busy week and won’t be able to get things ready for your company until that day. So you ask your husband to please keep Saturday free to help you clean up and get some groceries. He happily agrees. Saturday morning rolls around and you see him headed for the door to go play golf with his friends. How would you feel about this? What choice would you make as you saw him walking out the door? This is just one example of the hundreds of choices we need to make on a day-to-day basis. Did you know that the Bible tells us very clearly how to handle this situation and others like it? In this scenario, we could make our next move based on our feelings or we could take the time to think about the choice that would best honor God. In this post I want to share with you how the Bible can help you better navigate tough situations like this, and how initially making a hard choice can actually make your life easier in the long run.
Have you ever seen any show or documentary about the lives of prisoners locked up in jail? You hear their stories and you think, “can’t you see you are just making life harder for yourself?” Somewhere along the way they have made the choice to do things their way, usually based on how they feel. If we are completely honest, we often have the same mentality. If we don’t have the right focus we will often make our choices based on our feelings. We might respond to our conflicts from a place of anger, or to a difficult person out of frustration. We might not feel like getting up early to be in God’s word. We might yell at our kids if they are not doing what we want them to do. Are you starting to recognize how easy it is to live a feelings-based life? The Bible calls this walking in the flesh. Galatians 5:17 says ” For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. ” Galatians 6:8 says that “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.” We do what our flesh wants because it is the easiest choice in the moment but in the long run we make things harder for ourselves.
God wants us to see that there is a better way to live. We don’t have to let our feelings bully us into making sinful choices. In His power we can stop and take the time to think through what response would be most honoring to God. That response might not always make sense to us in the moment. It might not always be the response we think the other person deserves, and that might be true; however, God wants us to first and foremost make our choices based on what honors him. When we live this way it is called walking in the Spirit. This means we are Spirit-led instead of being led by our fleshly lusts. The second half of Galatians 6:8 says “he who sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life.” This is not just about salvation, obviously we know we can’t earn that. This is about “living the highest quality of life that one can experience (John MacArthur).” Walking in the Spirit is about making the hard choice now and reaping the benefits of an overall easier life in the long run.
These choices don’t begin at the moment of desision though. The Bible says that they originate in our hearts. Do you ever find yourself saying “that person made me so angry”? The truth is they did not make you angry, that anger was already there in your heart. I love how my former professor Elmer Towns puts it, “whats in the well, comes up in the bucket.” Matthew 15:19 says it this way “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” These things start in our hearts. It begins with what we are thinking about and what we let our hearts and minds meditate on. If all day long we are thinking negative hateful thoughts about a person, we will most likely respond very poorly when a conflict arises with them. If we train our minds to think hope-filled, loving thoughts about them, and strive to see them as someone God loves and died for, we are more likely to have a God honoring response.
Refer back to the scenario at the beginning of this post. If we were to respond from our feelings, we might have responded by yelling, crying, or not talking to our husband for a period of time (the cold shoulder). If a wife commonly responds to hard situations from her flesh, how might that marriage look in the long run? Would that be a marriage that was easy? Honoring to God? What if instead, we took the time to pray and ask God to help us respond in the Spririt? We would be able to calmly and lovingly express our thoughts and concerns to our husband. Yes, in Gods power we really could do that, even in this tough situation. Again, this is just one possible example of the hundreds of choices we face on a daily basis. As the old saying goes, we only have two choices on the shelf, pleasing God and pleasing self. Often walking in the flesh is a path that leads to a much harder life for us, while choosing to walk in the Spirit brings life more abundantly (John 10:10).
- This Y chart is what I based my post on today. I’m not sure who originally created it, but it is commonly used in Biblical counseling circles.