KEEPING IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT: OUR EFFORT IN LIFE

The Question: What is the purpose of our efforts in life?

The Answer: To glorify God.

The Problem: Who really lives that way?

Most people simply do what they must to survive and ethically live with themselves. Right? Nevertheless, if we truly want a lasting purpose for ourselves, we must accept we were not made to only seek survival, but rather seek to reflect God.

The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). I gather that means what doesn’t reflect God… dies. People don’t simply die because they have sinned. They die because they refuse to reflect God. The fact is Christ has dealt with sin in dying for us. Christ condemned sin in His flesh (Romans 8:1) meaning forgiveness has overcome sin and life will at the appointed time overpower death completely.

Our problem is we have trouble reflecting God. At the same time, this conflicts with our daily effort in seeking to survive in a fallen world. Nevertheless, if we put our Faith in Christ and keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we can make the proper effort to reflect God in our daily lives.

With all of that in mind, let us start fresh and think about how it is we decide to put forth our effort. Let us also proceed without thinking of Christ simply regarding Him as our scapegoat for sin, but rather as our human example. He is the Lord to Whom our effort in life is accountable to reflect.

There are two kinds of effort we find ourselves engaged in as we live our lives. The first kind is found in the world and is “forceful effort.” Lying, stealing, destroying and its derivatives. The other type of effort is the way of the Lord and is a “Submissive effort.” Truthful, giving, and, self-denial-oriented behavior.

The problem for us is that we carry out our lives and have relationships that intermingle with both forms of effort. Some people principally lie, steal, and destroy to get their way. Others are principally true, giving, and selfless in their lives depending on where their faith is placed. Though as the Bible tells us, all fall short of the glory of God. Nevertheless, that glory is what we were created to reflect.

Genesis 1:26 states that God created us in His image that we may rule. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”

I sometimes notice in our moral weakness we tend to read into the text what we want. In so doing, we investigate the Bible passages for how to achieve, get, and maintain what we corporately or individually desire. What’s more, we tend to pray or seek from God in ways that are rooted in personal need or desire rather than truly seeking conformity to God’s nature; which also comes by way of our weakness as revealed in the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The fact of the matter is self-fulfillment is not the reason the Bible was written. Self-fulfillment is not the reason for our creation. The Bible tells us as stated above that God created us in His image that we may rule.

Personal achievements can certainly be accomplished, but not total fulfillment. Now, most people at this point say, “Correct, but in Christ, we can have full fulfillment.” That is true in a sense but only because He is sharing of Himself. The fulfillment is not ours and does not come from us but is Gods’ grace, the giving of Himself.

The fact of the matter is we are not told personal fulfillment is why we were created, but we are told God created us in His image that we may rule. Fulfillment comes when we have what God gives and we like God share it with others. Fulfillment is an outgrowth (result) rather than the overall purpose. Once more, the Bible says we are created that we may rule. The rule here is about reflecting God. Therefore, the ruling here is not how the world rules which comes by forceful effort, but rather is a submissive effort within God’s order. God’s order reflects His character.

So, if we put forth forceful effort to bring order to our lives. The behavior at best may produce temporary survival and some happiness. On the other hand, we can submit to God’s already established order (submission to His Sovereign wisdom) which he promises leads to sharing in His rest and immortality.

The fulfilled life is God’s alone. We can only share what He offers us but seeing that He is unwilling to withhold even His Son… well, you do the math… He has offered us much. Also, Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Friends, as we freely submit to our rightful rule under Christ, we can find our place. This place is offered by Christ for us to dwell in His submissive order. The place offered is the Kingdom where every knee shall bow to Christ and there is rest in reflecting God.

In conclusion, effort must be made on our part, but that effort must always reflect God and deny self, rather than denying God and reflecting self. If we use forceful effort (lie, steal and destroy) or even lesser offensive means of forceful effort or some level of damaging manipulation to reach achievements, we neglect to follow the nature of God. I am not simply saying you must follow the rules… or else. I understand at times people feel that for ethical reasons we must do immoral things to love our fellow humans and choose between the better of two evils.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that I am here stating the choice between self or God is at the heart of our decision making. The fact is we may not always know what is best. Therefore, we should always seek to submit to the Lord’s established command to love, deny self and acknowledge God in all our decisions.

Our Lord lived that way offering others truthful guidance, giving, and even total self-denial in acknowledging Father God. The example of Jesus Christ is the very image of God and the reason I use the phrase submissive effort. We should seek to progress in our life to reflect his light by living as he lived. That may sound idealistic and not the way the real world works. But the so-called real world is fallen. Christ is King and effort in his kingdom is ordered with effort in submission to his loving nature.

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