Weekly Devotional 2-12-24 Not Automatic
Some years ago Nancy and I had lunch with a Christian brother and while we were dining, he asked that we pray that he would have a right attitude toward many things that he does on a voluntary basis. I determined from our discussion that he did not fully comprehend that volunteerism comes with commitment. It was his assumption that because he was volunteering to perform a certain task, he was free to perform the task by his own determination. We talked at length about this, and I was hopeful by the time we were through dining he would have a different perspective toward what comes with volunteerism. Before ending the discussion, I asked why he wanted us to pray for him about this. To which he replied, “That I have a right attitude.” I followed up by asking him what he was doing about it and then mentioned that most things in life are not automatic.
Many times we Christians think that our prayers will move God toward accomplishing that about which we are praying and do not consider that we ourselves have an involvement in accomplishing those things. For instance, I have heard some students pray, “God help me pass that test tomorrow,” and then spend very little time in preparing for the test. Certainly God has initiated those things that are necessary for us to walk a walk that is worthy of Him; He has birthed in us newness of spiritual life, His Spirit (The Holy Spirit) indwells us, and He has given us His Word, but these things alone will not bring about that for which we have been praying. We do have spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit does indwell us to guide and encourage us, but God has birthed in us spiritual life not to set passively by but to be engaged. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12b). Looking back to the verses that precede that command (verses 2 – 4), we see the intention of that work. “2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Working out one’s salvation (vs.12) does not mean to work toward being saved but because one is saved, he is to work out of his salvation. In the case of the Philippian Christians their work was to result in being of one accord, of being like-minded, and in having their fellow Christian’s best interest above their own. (Their attitudes and motives must be the attitudes and motives of all Christians).
All of this has bearings on our discussion with the above men-tioned brother. Remember, he wanted Nancy and I to pray that he would have the right attitude about his Christian walk. He (and we all) must realize that when we pray, we should expect that those prayers will bring about a change in us. Prayer is a communication between God and us. As we speak to Him, He speaks to us, and His communication should bring about change in our attitude, expectations, and performance. If we pray rightly, we should begin to consider as we pray, what our own involvement should be in the things we are praying about. Instead of asking God to do this or that, perhaps we should begin asking God what He would have us do, and then ask Him to strengthen us so that those things might be accomplished.
Again, thinking about the attitude of the brother mentioned above, he needs to consider (as should we all) that God does not work in the abstract. Neither does the Christian, He, like God, is to be actively engaged.
Jesus said, “13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).
Of course Nancy and I committed to pray for the brother, as we do for ourselves, that he (we) will be strengthened in his (in our) resolve to perform to the expectations of our calling, of being a Christian,, and we will also pray that we each come to fully appreciate that God expects His children to work out of their salvation, to live lives that honor Him.
Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man