As this Coronavirus continues to impact our modern society, how is it impacting you spiritually? More specifically, how are you acting toward God and others? ◊
My wife and I are now spending time each day reading the classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This week there was a particularly appropriate message in one of his heady lessons:
Are we living in such a vital relationship to our fellow men that we do the work of intercession as the Spirit-taught children of God? Begin with the circumstances we are in – our homes, our business, our country, the present crisis as it touches us and others – are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? 1
Chambers calls out those of us who run ahead of Him [God] in a thousand and one activities, claiming that consequently we get so burdened with persons and difficulties that we get out of sync with God and His Spirit in us.
He maintains that with these burdens and pressures upon us, we may very well produce not only a hardness toward God [and others] but despair in our own souls. We can become a heartless Christian.
Of course, these behavioral practices could happen at any time, not just during a pandemic lock down. (Oswald Chambers only had World War I to worry about. He died in 1917.)
Either way, how are you doing with this issue of heartiness vs. heartlessness?
Spiritual Wear and Tear
During this pandemic, while there is an abundance of wonderful feel-good stories that demonstrate humanity’s general support for others and those in need, there is also a dark undercurrent of fear, anxiety, frustration, impatience, and anger out there.
Even among friends and family. Have you felt it?
It’s only natural to fear the unknown, particularly when money sources are halted, lost, or depleted, or have anxiety over the health of ourselves and loved ones, or frustration over conflicting news and information flow, or impatience with school children in constant close living quarters, or anger at others for varying opinions and viewpoints.
Or hold all of that against God for allowing it, supposedly, and messing with your fairly ordered world.
An Undermining Enemy
Remember that we have an Enemy that seeks to undermine and destroy us. Jesus Christ Himself refers to “the enemy” as “the devil” (Matthew 13:39), and “murderer” and “father of lies” (John 8:44). He outright demonstrates His spiritual authority over Satan when He commands “Begone, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10) when tempted in the wilderness before He began His ministry.
The Enemy still operates in the spiritual realm to drive us to distraction and separation from the spiritual power we possess within us through the Spirit of God. Like whispering fleeting or looming thoughts in our head, the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) and forces of spiritual darkness would have us taken out by our own selfish and petty pride, greed, jealousy, religion, intellect, security, and wealth.
And it happens all the time. In a moment, in a word, in a reaction. Even when we’re trying hard to be civil and kind, our selfish heart can rise up and get in the way. Or, as Chambers points out:
…unless we are worshiping God the natural tendency is to be heartless toward them. We give them a quick verse of Scripture, like jabbing them with a spear, or leave them with a hurried, uncaring word of counsel before we go.
He concludes that a heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to our Lord.
It’s a Spiritual Solution
Try as we might, we can’t will ourselves to be perfect people. We need a change of heart, an internal adjustment that only God can do. A spiritual transformation. There are 4 key components to this spiritual solution that when played out daily will keep us thinking, acting, and responding inside and outside in a manner worthy of a vibrant and spiritually fruitful Christ-follower exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23):
- Remember the Cross – Jesus died on the cross and shed life blood as a perfect sacrifice to Holy God. His purpose on earth was divine and completed as planned. He died for each of us to restore us to God. This should be a daily humbling reminder of our sin and unworthiness.
- Worshiping Lifestyle – our life each day should in all ways reflect a God-fearing, God-honoring, God-respecting, God-loving, God-praising lifestyle. Feel free to express that in any way that suits you. The public testimony (spoken and unspoken) of our life should be targeted to please God.
- Repentant Heart – that our salvation is real and secure and costly should never be forgotten. We come to God clean and pure as we accept that Christ intercedes for us. And now, the Holy Spirit’s intercession allows us to be a blessing to all others around us with spiritual fruit characteristics that can’t be self-manufactured.
- Witness Testimony – our mindset should be as one on the witness stand, as it were, and give a bold and strong testimony to the transforming power, love, and redemption of God that saved them and has restored them to wholeness. This is not about preaching but rather about knowing and living a testimonial story of personal transformation.
Yes, the Coronavirus will come and go and leave its impact. We can reset our minds today to spiritually transform our approach to living now and for after the pandemic is gone. With that we can have our own life-giving impact on those around us as we live a life seeking God’s own heart.
Are you heartily seeking after God’s own heart?
It is Christ…who also makes intercession for us….the Spirit…makes intercession for the saints… – Romans 8:34,27
1 My Utmost for His Highest, April 1st, “Heartiness v. Heartlessness Toward Others”, by Oswald Chambers, 1935.