She was going off on me in my living room. It was like a verbal waterfall of everything about me that annoyed her. "And another thing..." It just kept coming. I sat on the couch speechless, shocked that it was happening. Shocked at what was being said. Shocked at who it was coming from. And then, the time came for my response. She made me mad, I was ready to retaliate.
But wait. The truth is, she didn't make me mad, I chose to respond with anger.
She’s just a person. And she has no control over my thoughts or my actions. I had a choice. I chose to get mad. In that moment, I really had 2 choices:
- I could follow my flesh and respond in anger, abrasively dishing out to her even more of what she dished out to me - complaints and accusations. OR
- I could follow the Spirit and respond with the truth in gentleness and love. I could make observations instead of accusations. I could ask questions and seek understanding of what she said, rather than jump to conclusions.
But it wasn't just that moment, it’s every moment - I always have a choice. It’s a simple little fact with profound implications. In every moment of every day, I have a choice. I can choose the Spirit, or the flesh; obedience or disobedience; to love God, or to not love God; to believe God, or to not to believe God.
The bad news is that, if left to ourselves, we'll always choose the flesh, disobedience, death. But the good news is that as a daughter, a follower of Jesus Christ, we are empowered by the grace of God.
Titus 2:11-12 says “ 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Let’s talk about what this means for a second. The grace of God, which is Jesus Christ, has come and gifted us with salvation. We have been sealed with His Spirit and through Him have the ability to renounce, to give up or put aside voluntarily, ungodliness.
To say it another way, we can choose to give up all that we feel, think, say, or do that doesn't line-up with His character. That is great news because what I say and what I do all stem from what I think and what I feel. And what I think and what I feel stem from my heart.
So more than my choosing an external action that looks “good”, I’m choosing a state of the heart. The scriptures are clear that obedience to the Lord is never just an external action. A right action, done out of a sinful heart, is still sin. Let me say that again - A right action, done out of a sinful heart, is still sin.
The Pslams say it like this – “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So the statement is also true that out of the abundance of the heart the mind thinks; out of the abundance of the heart the body does. My words, thoughts and actions all overflow from my heart.
But again, the grace of God, Jesus Christ has come and gifted us with salvation. We have been sealed with His Spirit and through Him have the ability to voluntarily put aside ungodliness. And ungodliness starts at the heart level - the thinking and feeling level. Here’s the good news:
- Because of grace I don't have to think whatever I want to think - I can choose to place my thoughts where He would have me place my thoughts. I can choose to believe His truth.
- Because of grace I don't have to feel whatever I want to feel - I can choose to feel what He would have me feel.
- And it follows, because of grace I don't have to say or do what my flesh wants me to say or do - I can choose to walk by the Spirit.
So, there I was, in my living room waiting for my chance to speak. I took a deep breath, asked the Lord to calm my heart, and by grace chose to follow Him. I wish I could say that I choose Him, choose obedience, every time - but I don’t. Just another reminder of why I need His amazing grace.