22/06/2017 - Philippians 2:13 'For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.' (NLT)
If you love someone, you are desperate for them to make good choices. We sometimes say that we are ‘willing someone to make the right decision’. This verse tells us that God, who lives in each Christian, is doing just that – and more. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is strong enough to break the grip on our souls of our inherent selfishness so that we are free to make genuinely loving, God-centred choices. We have the desire and power – but he doesn’t make the choice for us – which is just as well otherwise we would be deprived of vital strengthening exercises. Does an athlete train by asking someone else to do the running for him?
We can have the notion that we can take the ‘easy’ decisions – a little improvement here, some fine tuning there. That doesn’t change anything. This isn’t about mellowing with the years but about deep cuts to the negative emotional patterns that have shaped and defined us for as long as we can remember. That involves drastic, dramatic choices to get the other side of guilt, to walk away from it, to see ourselves as God sees us, to set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us (1 John 3:19-20). That requires courage, a good attitude, real moral fibre.
There are times when troubled emotions help us trace back to specifics that we need to look at, or where repeating patterns cause us to pause and discover where those patterns came from. Once we see and understand then we are free to make informed choices. Then only you can choose to set yourself free from that guilt, or anxiety or disproportionate sense of responsibility or fear of failure or inadequacy. Only you can break the mould of years of narrow, self-centred or self-absorbed thinking. Don’t cry out to God with, ‘Lord, change me’ because he will reply, ‘You change yourself.’ He has given you the resources and making the right choices will build character. There is something important to be understood here. Both parts of who we are must be involved in this choosing. If you determine to ‘get rid of guilt’ but that decision is not made by your introvert for your introvert then you will simply increase the conflict between your two temperaments. This isn’t about gritting your teeth and believing – that will give you a migraine. It isn’t about pushing a negative thought away but rather recognising that there is no truth in the negative thought – despite the feeling you might have to the contrary. Just because an emotion is familiar, doesn’t make it right. Just because our emotional responses feel so much part of us doesn’t mean they have to remain so. They can, and must, be broken if our character is going to line up with God’s character. By choosing well we become truly human and thereby reflect the glory of God.