You might recall that recently we renewed our trailer’s annual license at the Drive Thru on the western side of the city. Today we went there to renew the car and bakkie’s license. We were eighth in the queue and in less than 15 minutes we were driving away with licenses in hand. As we travelled along Nana Sita Street from the western side, we were horrified by the way cars were travelling and overtaking! On a few occasions with only a car’s gap between me and the one in front of me, a driver, without indication went from either the left or right lane into my lane forcing me to apply brakes. Even though the speed limit is 60 km, some drivers think that limit is a suggestion … and the strange thing is that drivers do not blink an eyelid when driving like this and passing police and traffic police vehicles. Goodness … it’s scary to drive in the city nowadays! It’s almost as though one is in a movie with stunt acts happening all around you.
Before getting too critical and being a hypocrite because there are very few ‘good/faultless’ drivers (including me), I thought about the way we as followers of Jesus Christ tend to behave like those drivers so often, though we know our spiritual behaviour ought to be very different. How often do we “drive” spiritually through the day in the correct lane, at the correct speed and keeping the correct distance from harmful people, experiences and the enemy? Then we tend to let our guard down and we slip into the “fast lane” of some sort of sin because it seems so exciting. Certainly not as “boring as the slow spiritual lane of godliness.” And it happens so easily, because if we are honest with ourselves and God, we are not properly prepared and ready to enter the ‘world’ every day! How often do we permit ourselves to fall into the trap of loneliness, jealousy, anger, stress, covetousness … or some other immoral act that is not becoming of a child of God? Take the following passage as an example of what we ought to do, yet to be honest don’t seem to put it together as often as we ought.
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Take verse 16 and verse 25 … “live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” and “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” … did you notice what is in between verse 16 and verse 25? The acts of the sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit. Verse 17 tells us that the way of the Holy Spirit is in conflict to the way of the evil spirit … and the great problem is that our sinful nature becomes so confused when we are not prepared to enter the world … “that you do not do what you want”.
Yet … verse 24 tells us there is power to overcome and succeed in avoiding the way of the acts of the sinful nature … “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. There is power, there is ability and there is victory through the Cross. Then why is it that we tend to desire moving in the “spiritual fast lane of immoral behaviour” so often? As you look at the passage you see the reason … we tend to, look at verse 26 … “become conceited, provoking and envying each other” because we do not … verse 25 … “live by the Spirit” and we do not “keep in step with the Spirit”.
Sadly, we have to be honest … this is the reason we are more often in the “fast lane of sin” and not in the “slow lane of godliness”. But there is a four-fold strategy to being led by the Spirit to keep in step with the Spirit so that we live by the Spirit.
The first aspect of this strategy is Daily Devotional Readings and Meditation. There is simply no excuse for avoiding this vital “spiritual grazing” in the Word of God day by day. This is where the mind is shaped and the will brought into the discipline of responding Biblically to the challenges and temptations forced upon us each day.
The second is Daily Bible Readings and Study. Your grasp of Theology and Doctrine depends upon you studying the Word of God … even if it is only small chunks at a time. This not only supports your daily devotions, it becomes the foundation for the devotions to build upon.
The third is Daily Prayer. There is simply no substitute for prayer. Prayer is to the soul as oxygen is to the lungs. The reason we find ourselves unable to put our daily devotional reading and meditations coupled to our daily Bible readings and studying into practice is because we tend not to bend the knee as we ought.
The fourth is Daily Progress in Holiness. Well, the first three determine this last one! Without them there is no intentional commitment to progressing in holiness.
O God, help me to remain in the slow lane of holiness, applying this four-fold spiritual strategy so that I will live a life that pleasures You, preparing me for each day and what it holds … and for heaven … for Christ’s sake. Amen.