Do you have what it takes to be at your best?
So much information has been shared about how to better ourselves in books, seminars, workshops and the like, but we still feel like we keep coming up short, why? Because within ourselves we lack the discipline, instruction, the right motivations, and the consistency needed to be at our best. Yet, our best may not be appealing to others—we can’t win. So what should drive us to be better?
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14).
In terms of being healthy, these bodies weren’t meant to last. But what we are in them has a lasting impact on us and others, regardless of limitations. Since this life is not our own, for us who have surrendered to the Lord, we live out our greatest potential daily— as children of God. That requires a resemblance to Him. The potential to do so, is power that is given to us. Nothing consequential can be achieved apart from His guidance and our obedience. I suppose upstanding adults are a product of good parenting. I might even posit that good parenting has no lasting impact on a rebellious child. Living at our best is living to please The Lord. This is the motivation that disciplines us to be consistent, no matter how others react.
Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
Pleasing God requires an inner transformation, a new heart and the spirit to compel it to be passionate about the things God is passionate about—His Commandments. We need the Spirit of God to live through us, by not being obstinate and unyielding.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice,8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. On the day of trial in the wilderness.9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,and saw My works forty years.10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,and they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath,‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3).
As the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, we are to abide in the Spirit. He never sinned because He was fully Spirit, and yet fully man. Just as He was one with the Father, we can only be one with Him by His Spirit. To live as we are called to live, we must allow the Spirit of Christ to sanctify us for obedience. Obedience is putting an august performance, orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Disobedience is a hallmark of an unbridled heart.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (1 John 3).
We can get bogged down and discouraged to do the right thing because we don’t get the reaction we expect from others. Doing better should not be about how others receive us, but giving God honor. If our motivation to do the right thing, is what others will think, we will be the most miserable. Feel good about keeping in step with the Holy Spirit and not acting on fleshly emotions, or lusts.
This is winning the day; abiding in Him. The most effective and strategic way to love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself is putting off the things of the flesh.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5).
This is true liberty; not confined to law. Letting the Holy Spirit express His person and nature is living free, justified, and righteous. What could exceed such perfection, of walking in the Spirit? Why are we so downcast? So what, we don’t get the response from others we were hoping for? We are in freedom, we are living life as is intended.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8).
It feels great to be in God’s good graces. So we love God more, and love others better, that’s it! We have done really well! What about shedding those extra pounds? That’s exciting, but life is not just physical short-lived milestones, but enduring values that are sustainable. What we need is to be fruitful in virtues that will edify us and others, by love.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble (2 Peter:1).
Being better everyday we draw a breath, is being more fruitful in godliness. We need the Holy Spirit to express Himself and we do so by reading the Word of God and walking in it. We do well to heed, we do better to act. “Holy Spirit quicken us to obedience, that we may strive to please God in everything.” Let it be said of us, that we lived this life for our Creator, and His Glory. Then, it would be said of us “Well done!” One ingredient is required more than the other as John the Baptist recognized, “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3).”