Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Intentions Aren't Enough

The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

This verse just keeps popping up for me lately. Does that ever happen to you? You just keep encountering the SAME verse or concept over and over until finally you say, "Okay, God. I get it. You are trying to show me something here.". I shared before that I have been in a weird place lately. That I am trying hard to follow God but sometimes to my detriment. Sometimes I am so concerned with what I want to DO for God that I forget that more importantly I need to BE who God wants me to be. If I work on my character the "do" will come easily because I will be the person for the job.

I believe with all of my heart that God is sovereign over all things. I don't believe in fate or in chance. I believe God orchestrates a story that unfolds for each of us in an unbelievable way. He intricately weaves our story together in a way no human mind could comprehend. That said, sometimes we take wrong turns. We take our eyes off of God. We focus on our own desires and agendas and we (sometimes even with good intention) make choices that cause us to take the long way around. I recently watched a sermon by Francis Chan that likens this experience to a GPS. God doesn't yell at us for taking a wrong turn...he recalculates. It will likely take longer and may cost us a bit more, but f we continually seek Him, even when we make poor choices and take wrong turns He will bring us back to Him.

Can I tell you how thankful I am for this? Seriously. In an effort to do big things and be "Radical" I have lost sight of some things. Sure, in comparison with some my character is pretty good. I mean, I don't do anything criminal. I am generally a good person. But is that enough?? Lately the word to describe how I have been feeling is ineffective. God is showing me that in order to remain effective for His kingdom I have got to take care of my character.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8

Imagine that! God has already given us the tools we need and instruction against becoming ineffective. This verse tells us to make EVERY effort to add each of these qualities to our character...that we should be increasing these qualities within ourselves. Nowhere does it say...once you are "pretty good" it is good enough. Nope...continual growth and forward motion.

God is showing me that in order to remain effective for his Kingdom, I have GOT to stay focused on MY character. What I do won't matter a lick if I am not seeking Him first. We are called to love the Lord with ALL our hearts, souls, strength and mind. If we give it thought, because this is the greatest commandment it should be the thing we are working hardest toward and putting EVERY effort into, and yet when I examined my own life, I find this is not always the case. I spend a lot of effort on things that don't matter. I have a lot of distractions taking my mind off of God and onto the things of this world.

I am seeing very clearly that right now God is calling me to be present in this very moment. To soak it in, to be in His word and in constant communication with Him. I need to check my heart and be sure I am living a life of gratitude and giving thanks for all I have and not worrying about what I don't. I need to open my hand and receive the good gifts he is giving and make sure I am seeking Him first because even the best of intentions will cause me to fail if He is not the center. I need to be less concerned with what grand things I am doing for Him and concern myself with my own heart and character because I have three little hearts watching my every move each day. I am investing into them all that I invest into my own self and being the woman, wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend the Lord wants me to be. Sometimes it really isn't about what you are doing for is about who you ARE because of Him. Is He reflecting through all you say and do? I know I've got some work to do.

To my faith I need to add goodness. To the goodness I need to add self control ( a REAL issue for me). To self control I need to add perseverance. To the perseverance I need to add godliness. To godliness mutual affection, and to mutual affection LOVE. We need to be increasing these virtues each and every day. If we want to be and/or remain effective we have got to grow...we have got to move forward and we have got to increase! I sure have some work to about you?


Tori said...

Thanks! I really needed those verses in Peter. We were just talking about at bible study tonight, how alot of times God does call us to "serve" in ways at church or with the lost, but the most important way we can impact people for Christ is to just LIVE IT!!! At the grocery store, at our house, anywhere and EVERYWHERE!! Love you girl!

Mom of 12 said...

I've never felt the kind of pain you have had. When my SIL lost a baby at 7 months it really consumed her. The baby was fully developed and just never took a breath. We joined her in the hospital and each of us had a turn to hold this tiny babe that would never play soccer or enjoy her first kiss. My SIL has two boys and this one was a little girl. She was never able to carry another child. I don't know why Heavenly Father gives these burdens to some and not to others. I do know that he won't give us more than we are prepared to handle. You must be a very strong spirit.

Carla said...

Amen! So well said. I'm feeling so many of the same things right now. The "good works" don't mean anything if our heart, mind and soul isn't completely focused on and falling in love with our Lord more each day. Love the GPS analogy :)