I was meeting with a passionate follower of Jesus recently, who began talking about piety. Piety isn’t a virtue we talk about much anymore. It conjures up images and icons of monks or saints from the middle ages with hallows surrounding their faces. I wasn’t even sure what piety was.
Piety – an affectionate obedience that wants whatever God commands.
Wow! As a follower of Jesus I try daily to be obedient. But to pray that I want whatever God wants, really raises the bar! I’m ashamed at how often I obey God, almost begrudgingly, like a young boy asked by his dad to mow the lawn on a hot summer day. I do it, but I’m not all that happy about it.
Piety sets it’s heart on wanting what God really wants. But how does that work in real life – today?
Learn what God wants This idea is so obvious that you may be tempted to blow past it, to the next point. Please don’t. I try to read scripture every day. When I’m in a hurry, angry, tired or distracted, I read the words, but give little thought to “how then shall I live?” What does God want me to do with this information and how can I grow to love doing it? The standard Christian answer is “the Holy Spirit can do that in me.” And of course He can. But far too often, I’ve used that as an excuse. Subconsciously, I’ll put the responsibility for my heartfelt obedience on the Holy Spirit, so even if I have a bad attitude about it, it’s His fault. No, it’s mine. And yours. So, I’ve begun begging God daily for a heart for obedience. I desire to long for what God wants.
Make a list of the ways you’ve been disobedient I’m not simply suggesting you make a “sin list” and start working your way through it, like a New Year’s diet. Ask yourself, “why?” Why am I disobedient in that area? Meditate on the “back story” of that sin. I’ve found there is often another sin or bad attitude that contributes to my sin. Here’s an example; Perhaps you had a tough or distant dad and the mere mention of his name sets off negative thoughts. But the sin behind the sin may be you reflecting often on how he hurt you or others in the family. We Christians sometimes “fondle” our sins. Almost cherishing our hurts so we never forget. Unless, by the power of the Holy Spirit you can take those thoughts captive, you will never want what God wants – your forgiveness for your father’s unkindness, even if he’s unapologetic. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Pray daily for spiritual radar Most mornings I ask the Holy Spirit for “spiritual radar” to make me aware of the people in my life, today, who he wants to bless, through me. I think about the people on my calendar first. But I’ve often found it’s others that I meet, or whose names pop into my head, in the course of my day, that appear to be my assignment for the day. Think beyond your family or friends. Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. Who do you not like right now? God creates sunshine and rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous alike.
“That you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45
This is a tough assignment, isn’t it? I know. I’m only a few weeks ahead of you!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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