God said, “I announced, I saved, I proclaimed…”
Paul says, “…our qualification is from God.”
As much as the Christian “world” tries to keep these two concepts in mind when living out our lives, we really struggle with it. There is a constant human desire to perform and prove. Many of those who gave in their general lives did so because they believed they could not perform and prove. It is often even more difficult in our spiritual lives.
The tricky balance of a spiritual life is that it should pour out of us naturally. It is often hard (if not impossible) to determine if the life displayed of authentic pouring out or if it is by will and effort alone. We can be tricked into thinking that effort will produce spiritual life change. We can also be tricked into thinking that our spiritual life is strictly an internal thing. A spiritual life will pour out something.
In our quest to not shame people (including ourselves) regarding our spiritual journey, we often disregard effort and work. This was often covered under the term, spiritual disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines weren’t (and aren’t) checkboxes to completed. They are ongoing forming, reforming, and reconciling actions. While the performance of them has been used unspiritually to abuse and shame people into outward conformance, the spiritual disciplines are no less important.
Paul notes that the Spirit gives life. Spiritual disciplines are to be the same. There is a big caveat there, however. The spiritual life often goes against the physical life (i.e., “spirit of the flesh” or “worldly”). This means that the physical life is crying, “I’m dying,” while the spiritual life is crying, “I’m gaining life.”
- Have you experienced your physical/worldly life dying while your spiritual life was growing? What was that like?
- Why do you think we often believe our spiritual life is supposed to be easier than the worldly life to grow?
- How do the opening words (from Isaiah and 2 Corinthians) affect or influence (or should) both worldly and spiritual lives?
Lord, often we make spiritual living too hard, but more often we think it should be easy, and thus it is all hard. Help us to submit our hearts and spirits to you, so that we may live lives fully committed to you. Amen.