December 12, 2016
Beware of This Invisible Competition!
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Friend to Friend
As Christian believers, we are called to live set-apart lives. To be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:7). To be in the world, but not of the world. God is the source of all holiness, and in order to live set-apart lives – to be sanctified – we must spend time with Him and allow His Holy Spirit to lead us.
God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants much more for us than that! God’s plan is to make us more like Himself… to sanctify us. He is Yahweh M'Kaddst, the Lord our Sanctifier.
Let’s take this street level. I don’t know what your days look like, but mine are pretty full. They start early and end late. Once the sun rises, it seems that coffee isn’t the only thing brewing in my house. An invisible competition brews daily that vies for my time and attention. The competitors are often “good things” that end up to be “time-robbing things” that keep me from God’s best and God’s presence. When I’m kept from God’s presence, I’m also kept from growing in His divine grace: major loss for me.
Have you been there?
Does an invisible competition brew in your home and heart too?
I’m thinking: Yes. We all struggle with this.
So what are some of these “good things” that end up being “time-robbing distractions”? They look different for each of us. We are all like snowflakes and fingerprints: unique. A few good things that come to mind are over-commitment, activity overload, electronics, excessive shopping, volunteering at church or community service. Yep. Went there. Again, none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they can become a hindrance to sanctification if we allow them to take precedence over our personal growth with Christ.
A big one for me is electronics. Let’s put our computer lives under a spiritual microscope for a moment. I’m an e-girl. I love my MacBook Pro computer, my iPhone, email, instant messaging, and the World Wide Web. Though I’m admittedly fully immersed in the e-life, I’m also cognizant of the fact that the e-world has become a dangerous addiction and spiritual deterrent to many.
I struggle with this personally. These electronic forums host a powerful and efficient opportunity for us to connect with other people 24/7. While much of social media, online surfing, and emailing is innocent, encouraging and fun, they also present us with opportunities to sin and to become distracted from set-apart living.
Over the past several years, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, games and texting have replaced many of our face-to-face conversations. For some of us, time with electronics has replaced and/or diminished our devotion time with the Lord. Online activities have become a new source of temptation for us, an opportunity to live a fantasy or a momentary escape from the daily grind.
A friend of mine recently said, “My computer whispers to me.” Yikes! Mine does too. I readily admit, at times I don’t manage my time efficiently because I give in to the lure of e-life by responding to an audio alert indicating “I’ve got mail,” or to a notification that someone has left me a message on a social media site. As a result, I waste time because I have spent it unwisely – therefore, robbing myself of productive time.
We are warned against this in Scripture. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).
Now, hear me clearly on this: I am not saying that electronics or computers are bad. In and of themselves, they aren’t bad. I’m simply suggesting that it would be wise for each of us to prayerfully consider the amount of time and energy we devote to these things.
How can we be set apart in our e-life? How can we establish healthy e-boundaries that will protect our purity and our time with God? Perhaps we could start by taking an honest look at the amount of time we commit to our social e-lives versus the amount of time we commit to spending in God’s Word and in His presence each day. (Did that sting? Rest assured it stings me, too.)
The good news is that we can turn to God for direction in all of this. His Word points us to a vital promise of wisdom that will guide us in holiness. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NIV). How awesome is that? God loves us so much that He offers us an endless supply of wisdom. We just need to ask – so that we are enabled to walk in His wisdom and to live each day in His holiness.
Are you holy as God is holy? Do you want to thrive in His divine grace?
When we determine to grow in sanctification and allow God to lead us to deeper places of divine grace, those around us will see the hope of Christ in us. Isn’t that where we want to be?
No matter where we find ourselves on the path of sanctification, it is encouraging to remember that God’s not done with us yet. God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)
Dear Lord, Please help me to live a lifeworthy of You. Help me to bear fruit in what I do and make choices that lead to holiness.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read, meditate on and discuss the Message paraphrase of David’s prayer to the Lord found in Psalm 51:10-12. “God, make a fresh start in me. Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!” (Psalm 51:10-12, MSG)
ACTION POINTS: Spend some time in thought and prayer about this subject.
Ask God to reveal to you any e-habits that are sinful, indulgent, or inappropriate.
Check your on-line notification settings and consider eliminating unnecessary email alerts. Then let’s meet on the wall of my blog to discuss this topic and pray for one another!
More from the Girlfriends
Gwen Smith is a speaker, worship leader, songwriter, and author of the new book, I Want I ALL, which includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back of the book; no extra purchase required. I WANT IT ALL it’s easy to read yet contains compelling and challenging content. You'll connect with the stories, probably dust off a few heart dreams, think bigger thoughts of God, laugh and smile a lot, search your soul, and even cry a little ... because each page lovingly directs you to the personal grace and truth of JESUS. (Get a FREE Downloadable “I Want It All” COLORING and JOURNAL book when you sign up to receive her blog!)
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Originally published Monday, 12 December 2016.