It might surprise you to know that I am not a very disciplined person. Well, it does not come very naturally to me. I need to work hard on it each day. Be it in small or big things, training ourselves to change and commit to these changes take time, but we must do it. The bad habits we have can be small and seem insignificant when we look at them, but we must work on even the smallest changes that need to be made. For example, I very often set the alarm 15 minutes earlier with the intention of jumping out of bed with enough time to do my daily Bible reading and start all the little chores that need to be done before the kids are out of bed and we are off to school and work. What happens almost always is I push the snooze button, role over and sleep. Eventually when I get up time is short, I am frustrated with myself, but can’t control it and then end up getting the kids worked up and frustrated too. My pushing that snooze button, instead of getting up straight away, causes a cascade of “little sins” throughout those moments and makes me feel really bad all morning. Bad for shouting at the kids, for being angry with the traffic, but most of all for not even having had time to read my Bible. I am working on it. I need to change and with God’s help I will. I have a note saying NO SNOOZE BUTTON to remind myself when I turn my light off. Maybe I would be better off buying an old style alarm clock. I need to say no to this very bad habit that causes me to sin.
In our pursuit of holiness we must be rooted in the grace of God. Grace teaches us to say no to ungodly behaviour and worldly passions. In my studies and research in the past few months I realised I never really understood what the term ungodly means in a broader sense. I have always thought of ungodliness being the same as wickedness. I was always quick to think of Sodom and Gomorra, or maybe someone like Adolf Hitler, or the terrorist who flew the planes into the twin towers in New York in 2001. We might think of people who kidnap and traffic human beings all over the world, violent husbands that attack their wives and children, parents that neglect and murder their own children or children who murder their own parents so they can be “free” to do what they want. These things are wrong and evil and it would be right to think of them as ungodly. For a better understanding of how God views ungodliness see Romans 1:18-32.
In a broader sense the word ungodly means disregarding God, ignoring him and not taking him into account in our lives. You can imagine my shock when I realised that I have been so ungodly, so many times, that I would be ashamed to admit. The many times when I jump to conclusions, make decisions without praying, considering scriptures… The times I sit around with colleagues who are mocking God and I say nothing. It is the opposite of what we are commanded to do in Matthew 22: 37-39
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (emphasis mine)
The process of learning, of pursuing, of striving to attain holiness is not always easy because it means we need to examine our hearts, look deep inside, find those bad habits we have, those sins we cultivate and say no to them.
We must also learn to say no to worldly passions. What does that mean exactly? It means to have a love for things of this life such as possessions, money, prestige, power that grows inside and takes over our desires, attitudes and thoughts. It becomes what we consider the most important thing and it consumes us. Passion for things of this world start small in our lives, it might be a jealous thought about the house our neighbour has or the car they drive, the school they send their kids to and so on. It might be sparkled by a promotion at work and the desire for a bigger team of people to manage, more power, a corner office. Very often I find myself thinking I am immune to these kinds of thoughts, after all I am a follower of Jesus, I read my Bible, I pray, I go to church, I help other people and therefore, I couldn’t possibly, ever be someone who will love this world and the things of this world that much.
We must remember that we are now citizens of God’s kingdom. We are supposed to live as foreigners here. We are supposed to be thinking of our home in heaven where we will be for eternity with God. This is what we are encouraged to do in 1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
God has given us his grace, his undeserved favour and this grace means that we are forgiven through Jesus. When He died, he paid the full price to satisfy God’s wrath and God accepted his payment and now we have His righteousness. (See Romans 3:19-26). Grace also reminds us that there is no more condemnation and sin has no dominion over us (See Romans 8:1). Because of God’s grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us we can be disciplined/trained to say no to sin. We can stop pushing the snooze button, so to speak. We can examine our hearts, confess our sins and start the training each day knowing we are secure in Christ and his grace and his love will sustain us.
Have a blessed week.
Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash