Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Follow-up: RE-Fashioning Our Lives

We've talked about spiritual fruit in my last two follow-up posts. About how the fruit of the Spirit is singular (remember the even eyes on the pineapple?), and about how we need to plant the right seeds in our hearts in order for the Lord to produce the right kind of fruit in and through us. (If you want to read or re-read those, click the links above.)
By the way, my Thyme is sprouting! So is one of my tomatoes, one of my peppers, and my Thai Lime Basil (they were too tiny to photograph).
Today's follow-up on fashion leads me to explore this question: "How, then, ought we to live?"

The book of First Peter says this:
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (ch. 1:13-16)
We, who are spiritually re-born into Christ's family, are called to holiness.

That's a big statement that causes me to pause as it sinks in.

Holiness means being set apart for God. Holiness is not just a series of acts to perform, like going to church or a Bible study. Holiness is something sacred, something special. It radiates from within. It means letting God's character flow from our hearts and permeate the rest of our lives.

As Peter says above, holiness should affect every area of our existence (i.e. "in all manner of conversation"). Conversation isn't just our speech; conversation is also the way in which we conduct ourselves. And by the way, what does the Bible say about speech anyway? "Out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," right (Luke 6:45)? Our words and our actions say a lot about the condition of our hearts.

But how are we, who still have a sin nature, able to live holy lives?

Peter says to "gird up the loins of your mind."

Wait! What?? Stay with me, here.

"Girding up the loins" means protecting them, literally binding them up to protect them in battle. But what are "the loins of your mind"? These are the vulnerable areas of your mind, areas prone to wander into a sinful place. We all have them, and we need to protect ourselves in battle (see Ephesians 6:12-13)!

My first inclination was to draw a brain with a pair of underwear. However, the whole "how-to" thing is pretty important. The shield has "1 Peter 1:13" on it, and the sword has "Hebrews 4:12" on it. Maybe I'll draw a brain with some underwear later. :)
For example, maybe one area in which you struggle is discontentment (believe me, I have my moments!). You see other people's lives, and you find yourself becoming jealous and restless. Suddenly, your life doesn't seem very great--especially since so-and-so owns a house, has a better car, richer parents, tons of kids, cuter clothes, smaller waistline, fancier phone, etc., etc. You are no longer content with what you have, and feel the need to buy better clothes when you don't have the money or "prove" yourself in some other way.

WRONG ATTITUDE, my friends! Not only do you need to confess and forsake your bad attitude to God, you also need to "gird the loins of your mind." That is, protect yourself from falling prey to the discontentment trap in the future. How can you do that?

Well, first you need to ask God to help you find the trigger of your discontentment. Was this attitude caused by a braggy friend? By spending time on Facebook? By watching TV or reading a magazine?

Secondly, whatever the trigger is, you need to evaluate (with God's help) whether that trigger needs to be in your life.

Some triggers are easy to deal with: 
       --If it's TV, turn it off. 
   --If it's Facebook, don't check it. 
   --If it's a magazine, throw it away and cancel the subscription!

Obviously, if the trigger is a friend or family member, it's a little more difficult to "discard" that trigger. You may need to spend less time with that person, though, if his or her constant bragging or "one-upmanship" causes you to feel embarrassed or bad or discontent about your "lack."

Finally, start memorizing verses to defend your mind when other triggers attack.

Life is not a competition. What's more, better clothes, bigger cars, etc. are mostly distractions. I'm not saying you can't own nice things. If the barn needs painting, paint it! But I am saying we need to have the right attitude about what we have (possessions, circumstances, etc.), and that is an attitude of contentment (see Philippians 4:11). We need to "fashion" our lives, as Peter says, "not according to our former lusts." But "be holy." Because we are set apart for His purpose.

If God is asking you to do something, you need to do it. Maybe He wants you to make a step towards being a stay-at-home-mom or towards being a better student in school. Or maybe He wants you to go to college or move to another state or stay right where you are for now.

I don't know what God is asking from you, but I do know that you need to not be distracted from God's purpose and call in your life.

And for many of us, that means RE-fashioning our lives so that we are holy as God is holy.