Mowing and Growing
Suppose you have hired someone to come over to mow your lawn.
You are quite excited because you want to win yard-of-the-month and this young man may be just the answer you need to earn that coveted prize that will make you the envy of everyone in the neighborhood. Fame, fortune, and status will at last be yours! You tell him to really take his time, to trim the corners, and be careful of a few spots where there are holes in the yard. You get out the edger to demonstrate how meticulously the edges should be cared for. You set out his "hydration buffet" where you have prepared an array of different water and Gatorade (and various other beverages with electrolytes) to choose from so fatigue is not a factor. You check in to make sure that he can come back that night to see it in different light and make sure it looks good with all the shadows brought by the varying times of day. You ask him to spread a little of the mulch around in the flower beds and clean them of any debris that might have come in during mowing before he removes every stray leaf with a pair of sanitary tweezers.
He stares at you blankly.
He just wants his fifty bucks.
You figure something out quickly: he doesn't care if you win or not. He can do all the things you tell him to, but he will do the bare minimum and no more. Why? He is not a reluctant young man in need of some spending money, not a partner in figuring out how to win you an award.
The problem is not that he is a bad person or you are a bad person, you simply have a different mindset about the project.
In following Christ, we can do all the tactical things that are needed, but to excel in our walks with Him we have to have the right mindset. We (lawn mowers) are servants to Him (owners of the house) so His interests should be our interests.
We need a framework from which to operate. Luckily, Paul gives us one.
In his letter to the Church in Rome, he says:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)
Our mindset as we follow Christ is that we are a living sacrifice to Him. We constantly and consistently remind ourselves that we are not our own but His. We don't shy away from sacrificing our own comforts and desires for the One that has saved us. We stand ready to do so!
The times in my life that have been the most difficult are times when I am a living sacrifice to "Jim's comfort, safety and pleasure". (Can anyone relate?)
When we do that, we miss the power of God in our lives and are limited by our own sinfulness.
I invite you to pray this prayer with me:
God, help me be living sacrifice for you. On my own, I will mess it up and serve myself and myself alone. Help me follow you.
See you Sunday!