Tag Archive: calling


All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 33

September 20, 2012

Holy Fatigue

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

Some aspects of our experience in this world involve life-long obligations. These commitments are specific and have well-defined goals. I’m going to use marriage to illustrate a couple of points.

To function properly and profitably, a marriage requires diligence and a measure of self-sacrifice. During the course of a marriage, there are times when the husband or wife experiences fatigue in regard to the duties of that relationship. A stable marriage, one that honors God, therefore, requires each party to persevere in doing what God, who ordained this institution, commands.

If the husband, for example, allows the challenges of his marriage to deter him from giving all that he should, then that relationship will suffer and deteriorate. He must always be on guard against mental and emotional exhaustion. The husband must keep in mind both the teaching of God concerning this relationship and the ultimate goal, which is to fill the role assigned to him with distinction. These same things, of course, could be said regarding the wife’s involvement.

My point is simple. Any relationship that involves life-long dedication is going to present many challenges and, to put it plainly, will wear us out from time to time. That is when our focus on the ultimate goal can be most helpful. With that goal in mind, we will find it easier to fight against complacency and frustration. We’ll also be motivated to take steps that prevent fatigue.

When we are born again, we enter into another life-long relationship, one that is the most important relationship we will ever know. We become children of God and that calling comes with specific directions and a well-defined goal. It is a calling that puts us in direct contention with the world in which we live, however. Moreover, we find that our own flesh is set against the accomplishment of the work that the Spirit is doing in us.

In summary, we are commanded to live contrary to our natures. Our goal is to become a reflection of Christ. But along the way, we must endure opposition. And this opposition is not the kind that comes only once in a while; this opposition is constant. Although it varies from day to day, obstructions to our pursuit of holiness are never completely absent. It should not be difficult for us to understand, therefore, that it is possible to grow weary in our attempts to please God.

It is not a case where we tire of loving God or tire of being loved by Him. It is a case of being involved in an unending battle that inevitably drains us of spiritual strength. In that state, we are in danger of taking our focus off the path of righteousness. We may find ourselves almost overwhelmed because we live in a world that actively seeks to prevent us from living as God commands. This hostility never disappears.

These facts are behind Paul’s exhortation quoted above: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Paul understood the struggles of the Christian life as well as any man could. He knew that God’s people have been given instructions and are expected to conform to God’s will in all things. Paul also knew, of course, that this assignment is not fulfilled with ease.

Notice that Paul defines our calling as “doing good.” We are in the process of doing good as our days come and go. As Christians, our very existence is characterized by that which God approves, that which Paul labels as “good.” We live for God’s glory. We live to prove the reality of the gospel. We live to show the sure victory of Christ over the adversary and all of his assets.

And notice also that the apostle teaches that, if we are faithful in living according to our calling, which is another way of saying we are “doing good,” we will realize a blessed end to our struggles. Perseverance through this fallen world is no small accomplishment. And when we do find ourselves growing weary, when the challenges leave us exhausted, and when the schemes of the wicked astonish us, there is an effective way to respond so that we are not overcome. We respond by reminding ourselves of this counsel from the apostle Paul.

The Christian life is not just the passage of years, it is the one opportunity we have to honor God and our Savior by resisting temptation, building up that which has fallen, encouraging those who have lost their way, speaking well of Christ, and giving ourselves to God as humble servants through which He accomplishes His holy will. It is true that the Christian life is filled with impediments, but it is in the overcoming of those hindrances that the grace of God shines through us.

The world comes against us, but we continue our journey. The world seeks to deplete our strength and undermine our determination. Nevertheless, even though we sometimes feel as if we have reached the end of our endurance, we do not give up. We may slow down, but we never stop. We may stumble under the burden, but we never fall. We may tire, but we never quit. This is holy fatigue and I think there is a particular beauty in it.

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Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

(2 Corinthians 7:1)

In a recent sermon, I used the verse above as my primary text to encourage the congregation regarding our obligation to seek after holiness in order to honor the Lord. In the context of this verse, Paul speaks frankly to the Corinthians, telling them that they were no longer what they used to be, morally speaking. He also quotes a promise made by God that He would dwell in them and walk among them as their God and they would be His people. For this relationship to prosper, the recently born-again Corinthians had to rid themselves of the influence of the sinful nature and give increasing expression to the new life they had received in Christ Jesus.

I imagine that this must have been an overwhelming challenge to those who lived in the culture of the first century. Corinth was a major center for commerce. All of the negative influences that could be found throughout the Empire would be present in this city. Idolatry, for example, was universal; self-gratification was the primary concern of most people. The environment encouraged rebellion against the Law of God. In time, however, the gospel was preached and the Corinthians were regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They are told that they are called to be the opposite of what they had been all their lives.

Regardless of when in history the people of God exist, this command from the apostle is always paramount. The gospel changes us by giving us a new disposition, one that is oriented toward Christ and holiness. This orientation must be nurtured and guarded and I would suggest that there are three essential and highly effective elements involved in “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

First, we must fill our hearts with the truth of God given to us in the Bible. Bible reading, Bible study, listening to Biblical sermons, and reading Biblical literature are a few of the ways in which we can saturate our minds with the principles of righteousness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, these principles soon began to produce fruit. Another way in which to establish holiness in our hearts is through interaction with other Christians. These relationships produce an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth and the development of wisdom.

Second, we must battle against every influence of our previous nature. This requires us to avoid certain habits, perhaps, or particular places where we know temptation awaits. Relationships that will not contribute to our growth in Christ must be abandoned. Again, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will develop discernment as we become more sensitive to the contrast between the holy Word of God and the many potential transgressions that we encounter every day.

Third, we must pray. We must seek God’s help so that we can walk peacefully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We must ask God to identify those areas in our lives that are weak and need to be strengthened. We must call upon Him to reveal those subtle sinful tendencies that we might overlook.

What are you reading these days? Do you find gladness in a sermon that is true to the Word? How often do you pick up your Bible simply to read for a while? Are you being built up by Christian friends? Do you fortify yourself through prayer each day? Much grace is needed to live honorably before God in this fallen environment. It will never be easy, but it will always be our calling. Be assured that the mercy of God is abundant towards those who desire to honor Him through thankful and joyful obedience.