If you’re going somewhere and you’re off course by just one degree, after one foot, you’ll miss your target by 0.2 inches.
- After 100 yards, you’ll be off by 5.2 feet.
- After a mile, you’ll be off by 92.2 feet.
- After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you’ll be off by 6 miles.
- If traveling from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., 42.6 miles off.
- Traveling around the globe from Washington, DC, you’d miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston.
Over time, a one-degree error in course makes a huge difference! (Antone Roundy)
As I am writing this, 2017 is in the books and 2018 is just a few days old. With the change in the calendar, we have an opportunity to examine where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. It is easy to begin to drift in our spiritual lives. If we drift even a small degree from our purpose in Christ, it can lead to disastrous consequences. Our doctrine can begin to drift into error and outright heresy. Our life can drift one compromise at a time into ungodliness.
Paul, writing to the Ephesians in chapter 4:17, 20, & 22-24 offers a reminder of the contrast which should mark our lives. He says, “17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!– 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” ESV
We must always seek to put off our old sinful selves, and put on the new person we are in Christ. As we take stock of our lives and reflect on the past and look toward the future, make sure you are on the right path spiritually.
Jean Valjean, the lead character of Les Miserables, faces a moment of crisis. He had been living under an assumed identity while hiding from his past. He had stolen a loaf of bread, and was thus permanently branded a thief in France even though he had served 19 years of hard labor. When he hears news that a man has been taken into custody believed to be him, he knows he has a chance to make a clean break. All he must do is let that man be imprisoned for his violation of parole, and he is forever more free. Yet, he cares about doing what is right. In that moment of anguish, his inner debate is captured in the song, “Who am I?”. He has to decide if personal freedom at the expense of another can be lived with. I will let you research and find his answer.
We too face that question often. Every day we face temptations and decisions. We ask ourselves, “Am I the type of person who ….”. We don’t normally break out in powerful song as we wrestle with the issue, but we do face a moment of introspection. We must check our proposed actions and attitudes with the person Christ wants us to be. It isn’t always a moral dilemma. Sometimes the options may both be fine, but we must know which choice is in keeping with our God given purpose.
If we skip over this step, we are doomed to make a series of bad decisions. We will get involved in side tracks rather than staying on mission for God. We stray into sin instead of resisting temptation.
If we hesitate too long, our indecision can cost us as well. We miss the opportunity due to timidity. Fear of getting it wrong keeps us locked in place. Making no decision is in fact a decision!
To me, the secret is in answering the question now. Who am I? What is my purpose? What defines my character and ministry for the Lord? Knowing these things help us make decisions in keeping with the core of who God wants each of us to be. Then, when those moments come, make the decision which advances us forward in the goals God has given us. Sin’s temptation weakens when viewed in light of our call from God. Decisions become easier if we look for the one which is in keeping with our purpose. Know who you are.
The little boy ran off the baseball field. He ignored the coach and his fellow players as he returned to the dugout. He frantically looks for someone in the stands. Then his face lights up and he yells, “Daddy, Daddy, Did I do good?” And my heart melted. I don’t recall the words I answered, but I praised his athletic prowess and display of baseball skills. Then it hit me, a Father’s praise is something all children seek. I also was struck by the question, “Do I desire God’s favor as much as my son desired mine?”
We need to put God’s opinion above all others. Really, that the only opinion which matters. Romans 8:5-9 says, “5 For those who live[e] according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live[f] according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[g] the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (HCSB)
We cannot be pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Our flesh will lead us astray. We can’t do whatever we want and then come to God asking Him to bless the mess we have created. It is when we walk by the Spirit that we will please Him. The Spirit will direct our steps and guide our hearts. He will create righteousness within us.
I’m glad that I don’t have to earn God’s pleasure. When I yield to the Spirit, He does the work! The Spirit working through me enables me to live in a manner that pleases the Father!
So when we run to the final dugout looking for our heavenly Father’s praise, we can know He will be pleased already if we have been living by the Spirit!