“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”John 15:5
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth… nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”Hebrews 12:6, 11
Leading up to when I started making excuses for skipping devotions, I had been checking off my daily reading without actually taking the time to meet with God. For a little while, I managed to be kind to others and participate in the ministries that I’m involved in, in other words, go through the motions of the Christian life the way I envisioned it. It wasn’t long before I had begun to be lifted up in pride. After all, I was doing what I was supposed to do - on the outside.
When I realized what my attitude had become, I asked God to show me why I had developed that attitude of self-sufficiency and what the answer is. What He showed me is that I had made my devotions about me and what I was supposed to do instead of it primarily being a time of worshiping Him. As I took the time to actually consider who I am before God, the contrast of how holy and powerful and perfect He is, and that He would still do all that He did for me and call me friend and invite me to come into His presence, I was humbled and ashamed at my previous attitude. My thought changed from “Why do I need to meet with God?” to “Why wouldn’t I take advantage of every chance I have to meet with God?”
Once the Lord had given me that humble, sober view of myself, I could look back on the days I neglected to walk with Him, and I could clearly see why I had needed Him. It’s not like going a few days without talking to a friend. While human friendships are a huge encouragement, they pale in comparison to the complete dependence we have on God. For without Him, we can do nothing. Where I thought I was being successful at serving Him, I could see that I really had brought Him no glory, but was taking it for myself. The Bible tells us that God is a spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). He is not worshiped with men’s hands (Acts 17:25). I had a form of godliness, but was denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). I found that, sure, I could “do” Christianity, But at the expense of a real, vibrant relationship with God.
Only a proud heart would think that he can handle the Christian life on his own. A brief look at the Scriptures reminds us that we are completely dependent on God. Jesus cautions in Matthew 26 to “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There is no driving in neutral, no taking a break and coasting. If I am walking in the flesh, I cannot do the works of the Spirit. They are contrary the one to the other. How silly of me to think that I could do good on my own, when the Bible clearly tells me otherwise! Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” To think that I would try to muster up the fruits of the Spirit, all of those lovely, Christ-like qualities, in my own flesh!
Praise the Lord that He is not satisfied with me just going through the motions. He really cares about my growth and wants me to experience a real, vibrant relationship with Him that affects my real life. And the longer I am saved, the more dissatisfied I am with just doing good things on the outside. I want my relationship with God to have a real life impact on my heart and actions. I have so much to learn and such a long way to go, but I am so thankful of the confidence we can have that “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”