2008-03-15 - Otherwise Minded ~ Part 2
Hosea 14:1, "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity."
Last time, we looked at the difficulties of keeping a vigorous, disciplined, and active love to God. We all want a deeper love, holier holiness, and blossoming fruitfulness unto Christ, but our experience is generally less than what we desire. I hope in this short span to help us consider how to be delivered from this spiritual decay, so that we may thrive and flourish in the service of our King. Most of us try to watch our weight, but what wouldn't we all give to be fat, even obese, in spiritual-mindedness? We would all love to excel in love to Christ, charity in our relations, and discipline in our lives. How do we do that?
First, let us clearly know that we can recover a heavenly mindset. There is hope. We are never beyond the recovery of having essential godliness. "If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee," Psalm 130:3, 4. Let us remember that there is never any reason to say we are without hope in spiritual things. If we have lacked diligence in the use of our Christian graces in the past, there is forgiveness from the Lord, if we seek it.
We must first know that a heavenly mindset can be recovered. We may need a recovery accompanied with repentance for our past neglect, but there is nothing to hinder us from having a changed inclination in the future. We come to the Lord humbly, admitting our lack of focus and diligence - even confessing it - and move forward, resting in Christ alone for forgiveness and grace to get better. It is never too late to strive for vital communion with God in Christ.
Second, let us be weary of trying to pray, read Scripture, or even fight against diverting temptations in our own strength. The capturing of a spiritual mindset is actually not about prayer, Bible study, or going to church. These can all be means to that end, but in themselves, they do not renew our inward inclination unto the Lord. We can do all these things, and add fasting and generosity to the poor, and still have a distracted and otherwise-minded proclivity. It is needful that Christ be the center and foundation of all our outward works. Without Christ and love to Christ underpinning all we do spiritually, our labors in the things of God will never reach the level we desire. We plead with the Holy Spirit that He would make these things (prayer, Bible study, fasting, charity, mortification) effectual unto us. His blessing must not be separated from our efforts. Our faith is so liable to decay, that we need fresh supplies of grace, and we must ever seek them. "For it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes to rain righteousness on you," Hosea 10:12. We seek the Lord, and we use the means given, but our trust is in His raining righteousness in us.
We must return to the Lord. We are filled with distractions, but many, if not most, of these distractions are our own inventing. Christians never went to the Roman Coliseum unless they were being fed to lions, but we think nothing of entertaining ourselves until we have squeezed out all the spiritual life that we have. Many of us are otherwise-minded, and it is time for us to return to the Lord. I must press you on this. You must examine your life, and only you can do this. Are you using the means of grace that the Lord has given, to forsake your cares and concerns for this passing, fading world - so that you may live wholly unto Christ? Only you know. We must return to the Lord.
Most of our spiritual rot comes from letting other things take first place in our lives. This weakens our communion with Christ. It is the heart that is fully set on Christ only that can overcome this. Other things do distract us, but as servants of Christ, and children of God, these distractions cannot take an undue focus in our lives. They are always secondary. When our hearts are matured, and established in the right way, other things take a proper and secondary place. It is not that the things of the world have no place in our lives, but rather that they must have their proper place. Our affectionate affections are reserved for Christ first. He takes the first place in our lives, and all other concerns - important as they are - remain secondary. This is proper. This is to be our desire. This is to be our longing: To be fat in Christ, to have our hearts so fixed on Him that we always have a view to His glory. Nothing will rapture our minds more than nearness to Christ, with a constant view of His glory.
Soli Deo Gloria,