by Matt Slick
What do you want in life? car? house? good job? spouse? kids? etc. . . . There is nothing wrong with wanting those things as long as they do not become more important than Jesus. But what about wanting spiritual things? Do you want a moldable, shapeable, humble, kind, gracious, and loving heart that is ready and willing to be used of the Lord for whatever He would have in store for you? You might say yes, but if you do, read this paragraph again and see how much you really want to be moldable, shapeable . . . loving, etc. Getting to that place isn't easy. It is one thing to say that we want Christian character. It is another to pursue it.
In the garden of Adam and Eve when the first two humans rebelled against God, they suffered the consequences of their rebellion, and the Lord let them have what they wanted. They sinned and hid themselves from God. God let them do this, and, surprisingly, He gave them what they asked for. They decided to act independently of God's will, and God let them have independence: loss of fellowship with Him. They did not trust in God's way of eternal life (keeping the Law in the garden--remember, they were sinless at that time), and God let them have the consequences of it: judgment by the law. They covered themselves with their own works (fig leaves), and God let them have what they asked for: hard work in the world. Eve listened to the words of the serpent and for this rebellion was cursed with pain in childbirth. Why? Because as the bearer of life under the arrangement of God covenant, there was no suffering, and God's command to multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) would naturally and easily be fulfilled. But, after sin, the very thing Eve was meant to do, bear life in a perfect world, would then be achieved in an imperfect world with the natural consequence of sin: pain and suffering.
Let's bring it home. We inherited the hearts of our ancient parents. There is in us all a tendency towards rebellion and independence from God. If you seek this independence either on purpose (by willful decision to reject God and/or His truth) or by accident (through actions or inactions not in harmony with God's Word), then God will let you have what you want. If you are an atheist who rejects God, He will let you have that rejection, and your heart will become more and more atheistic. If you are a Mormon who seeks to become a god, then He will let that desire in your heart grow until it crowds out the humility of standing before the only true God in the universe. If you are a Jehovah's Witness who rejects the Trinity and believes that Jesus is a created thing, then He will allow your mind to grow cold and believe that a created thing can save you from your sins as you cooperate with God to become saved in part through your vain works.
If you were to read Romans 1:18-32, you'd see where the wrath of God's judgment upon the unbelievers is to give them over to the depravity of their hearts and minds. God lets them have what they want. I cannot help wondering that when we Christians openly rebel against God in some (minor?) way will God not let us also have what we want? Will He not let us have our little rebellion and the consequences that go along with it? Of course, this cannot mean that we lose our salvation because we have eternal life (John 10:27-28, 1 John 2:19). But, are our hearts not affected by what we do and think and say? Perhaps this is why we are admonished in Scripture to " . . . put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth," (Col. 3:8) and also, we are told "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things," (Phil. 4:8).
I, for one, do not want to give way to the pride and selfishness in my heart that have helped to shape me into what I am today. Rather, I want the love, grace, and kindness of God to shape me and not the pride and rebellion of my flesh. How can I do this? I must choose what is good in thought, actions, and deed instead of choosing what is unholy. When I have been wronged and I want to strike out in anger, hopefully I will instead choose to love. When I am discouraged because of my circumstances, perhaps I will choose to have joy. When I am disturbed by a pending problem, may I instead choose to be at peace. When I am tempted to react quickly, may I choose patience. When I am treated unjustly, I will try to choose kindness. When someone is bad to me, perhaps I will show him goodness. When others have not kept their word, I will choose to be faithful. When others are harsh, I will seek to show gentleness. And, when I want something quickly, I will try to show self-control.
It is because of what Jesus has done on the cross for me and His giving me a new heart that will enable me to live and walk by faith (Hab. 2:4). May He receive the glory.
Gal. 5:22-25 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
You become what you want. What do you want?