Spiritual Cardiology 201: You Do What You Really Believe Will Make You Happy

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obedience is not some strength or decision a Christian musters up against all odds. Self-denial is excruciating at times, but it isn't a path one chooses despite everything else inside of them. Obedience and self-denial are choices, to be sure. But they are fruits which naturally grow from the sap that is in the branches, which is in the trunk, which is in the roots, which is all in the DNA of the tree. A peach tree cannot produce grapes. And if it had a will at all, it would not even want to produce grapes....because it's not a grape vine, but a peach tree.

What happens so often in American Christianity at least, is that obedience and self-denial are preached and taught as things we must commit ourselves to...rededicate our lives toward...and somehow grunt out despite whatever other desires are in our hearts. I've taught it this way before...so many times...to my utter disgust. It's just part and parcel of fallen humanity, I think.
Two Examples of Bad Spiritual Cardiology
Here's an example of how it works. We receive a sum of money. We read our Bible which tells us to give to those in need or to the work of the ministry. We remember so-and-so who can't pay their electricity bill this month. We hear our church leaders reference it and teach the same thing. And we know we should.

But there's a stronger desire within us that 
wants more to spend the money on a new flat screen television and a video game console. We envision having people from the church family over to play games together and watch movies. "It'll be awesome!" we think to ourselves. "What a great tool for ministry!" We think more and more about the purchase and what we want to believe about the use of the purchase. Eventually we decide that buying it is the best thing to do.

At that precise moment, it is impossible to do anything other than purchase the flat screen and gaming console. Why? Because we've invested too much thought and rationale and especially emotion in it to do otherwise.

My issue is this: it is here at this moment in the life of a believer that obedience and self-denial are preached and taught...far too late in the process. The Bible teaches that the money should be spent on the brother or sister in need with the power bill. That's pretty plain (1 John 3:17; James 2:14-17).

However, obedience begins with believing in promise. So if you don't believe in the promise of God to provide for your needs (Phil. 4:19), to fill you with joy (Luke 15), to give you wealth in heaven (Luke 18:22), etc. then you will not be obedient to the commands to give to your needy friends. Obedience is the natural outflow of a heart oxygenated with God's promises.

About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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