An Inside-Out Life
The spiritual life is inside-out.
Instead of a life we live on our own strength, the life of Christ manifests itself in us. We act not of our own accord, but out of the power of the Spirit who dwells in us. Because of our position in Christ, God has empowered us with the ability to respond to His commandments.
Controlling Our Anger
James 1:19 tells us we must be “must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (NASB95)—this is part of living wisely. We will rarely regret waiting to hear all the facts before we jump to conclusions. When we wait, we give ourselves time to gain perspective.
However, it is easiest to speak quickly and let our tongues run rampant, yielding to our emotions instead of taking the time to truly listen. We respond out of a sinful anger, which is why James says, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20 NASB95).
Now, there are types of anger that are consistent with the character of God, but we need to make sure we process our emotions properly in the power of the Spirit. We must not let something eat away at us, but we must take it to God. This is why Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (NASB95). We need to love people, but hate evil.
Very often, we cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. When we are angry, especially about circumstances outside of our control, we need to remember to turn back to God. Praising Him and remembering to practice gratitude will reorient our perspective and remind us of His sovereignty in all things.
Working for the Lord
Ephesians 4:28 teaches us how to work well by walking in the power of the Spirit.
One of the areas Paul focuses on is theft: he urges his readers not to steal from those around them. This was a common problem in his time because servants would often steal from their masters, especially if their masters were unfair. But Paul calls them to stop this practice, choosing instead to work with their own hands for the good of those around them.
We can apply this as well by choosing not to be greedy, instead working for others. After all, the works of our hands do matter. If done in the Spirit of God, then those works will last forever. There is no secular/sacred dichotomy when it comes to work—all that we do is an offering to God. As a result, we need to be people who give generously, working for the Lord in all things.
If we keep this in mind, we will do our work with diligence and excellence—not cutting corners or taking the way to worldly gain, but honoring God in all things.
Living by the Spirit
Ultimately, we need to walk by the power of the Spirit, doing all things for God. This means we need to control our anger, work for God, and keep watch over our tongues.
Even though we will make mistakes and fall back into sinful habits at various times in our life, we need to train ourselves to live out our identity in Christ. The more we choose to walk in the Spirit, the more we will be oriented toward the Spirit.
An Inside-Out Life
This content on the reliability of the Bible was originally printed in Decision Magazine. False Impressions “I don’t want to take a bath—I’m clean enough!” My impassioned protests as a six-year-old at bedtime were quickly rebuffed by this powerful tool from my parents’ arsenal of guilt-inducing mottoes: “The Bible says that cleanliness is next to godliness!” […]