by Mike Ratliff
As many of you know, my nephew Travis was diagnosed with a brain tumor over Christmas week at the end of last year. A few weeks later he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Analysis of the tumor revealed that it did contain some type 3 cancer cells so he had to undergo several weeks of chemo-therapy. His last treatment is this Friday, the 21st of March, which is Good Friday. He is doing remarkably well. However, even more joyous to me is the spiritual growth I have witnessed in my sister’s family since all of this happened.
I am reminded of Romans 8:26-28.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 ESV)
What I have noticed in Travis and his wife Jennifer is a renewed focus on our Lord and His mighty work of redemption on the cross. When the sense of our mortality is enhanced by God as He prunes us so we will be even more fruitful, we mature spiritually as we let go of those temporal things that we used to hold as being important. However, God is good and He fills the void that is created within us as we die to self with more of Himself. This cannot but change us even more.
Dear Christian, what is the primary focus of your life? If each of your days is consumed with the temporal then the focus of your life is on the here and now, not eternity. Yes, I know that all of us must live in the world, but we are not to be part of it. Yes, we must work and take care of our families. Yes, we who are parents must nurture our children and be there for them. I know we must live in this world, but those things we must do should be done as unto the Lord. That is what God the father, the vinedresser, is working toward in our hearts as He prunes us. When we mature to the right place it is as if we move from darkness to light. Yes, our salvation got us through the narrow gate and put us on the difficult, hard way, but we see the spiritual as through a glass darkly. However, as we mature, that view becomes more and more clear. Then one day we see the truth clearly. We find that it is a total waste of time to live for any other reason than to live for our Lord and His glory.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)
To live for His sake, not our own, is a wonderful place to be. All that we must do in this world is no longer the focus. Instead, to do those things as unto the Lord changes the meaning of everything. Christlikeness becomes more and more apparent in our character. We do unto others as we would desire others to do unto us. We treat others from the treasury of Godliness in our hearts. The attitudes and other negative things that mark how we are in the flesh is fading away and being replaced with attitudes of service and a disposition of meekness and humility. The Spirit of God is filling our spiritual sails, moving us in the direction that God desires. This is what it means to be Spirit-filled. We get there via permeating our hearts with the Word of God as we submit to others as our Lord did.
However, the primary focus of our lives as we mature this way is to be instruments of grace. We become passionate about the Gospel along with becoming soldiers in the war over God’s truth. The mature Christian who lives this way will be long suffering and works with God to conquer his or her emotions, bringing him or her into subjection to the Holy Spirit. Personal insults and disappointments will not cause the emotional drama in their lives that it used to, but when they encounter God’s truth being twisted and maligned then watch out. They have learned to be angry and not sin as Righteous Indignation in them is used by God to present His truth in the battle.
Dear Christian, what is the primary focus of your life?