“Be very careful, then, how you live; not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
As Christian believers, we are called to live ‘set-apart’ lives. To be holy as God is holy (1 Thessalonians 4:7). We are to be in the world, but not of the world. You might be thinking, “is that even possible”? I would respond, “yes it is!” Scripture assures us that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and most assuredly by the infinite power of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8).
God is the source of all holiness, and in order to live set-apart lives — to be truly sanctified; we must spend time with Him and allow His Holy Spirit to lead us completely …..
God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants much more for us than that! God’s plan is to make us more like Himself … to sanctify us. He is our Lord and the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier. With this dynamic duo empowering us there is nothing we cannot achieve …..
Let’s take this to street level. I’m gonna break it down for you. I don’t know what your days look like, but mine are pretty full. People may not think so looking in from the outside. However, they start early and end late. Usually up by 2am for prayers and devotions; once the sun rises, it seems that coffee isn’t the only thing brewing in my house. An invisible competition brews daily that vies for my time and attention. The competitors are often “good things” that end up to be “time-robbing things” that keep me from God’s best and God’s presence. When I’m kept from God’s presence, I’m also kept from growing in His divine grace: a major loss for me….
Hellllooo, have any of you been there? Does an invisible competition brew in your home and heart too? I’m thinking: yes. And I’m saying that because I’m thinking we all struggle with this. It’s really very simple: you are what you love — not what loves you ….
So what are some of these “good things” that end up being “time-robbing distractions”? Well, they may look different for each of us. We are all like snowflakes and fingerprints: unique. A few good things that come to mind are over-commitment, activity overload, electronics, excessive shopping, volunteering at church or community service. Yep, went there. Again, none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they can become a hindrance to sanctification if we allow them to take precedence over our personal growth with Christ …
A big one for me is electronics. Let’s put our computer lives, or smartphones as the case may be, under a spiritual microscope for a moment. I’m really an e-girl. I love my SmartPhone, email, instant messaging, and the World Wide Web. Though I’m admittedly fully immersed in the e-life, I’m also cognizant of the fact that the e-world has become a dangerous addiction and spiritual deterrent to many, myself included as I struggle with this personally ….
These electronic forums host a powerful and efficient opportunity for us to connect with other people 24/7. While much of social media, online surfing, and emailing is innocent, encouraging and fun, they also present us with opportunities to sin and to become distracted from set-apart living. We can easily lose our focus once we begin that scrolling …..
Over the past several years, sadly, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, blogs, games and texting have replaced many of our face-to-face conversations. And for some of us, time with electronics has replaced and/or diminished our devotion time with the Lord. Even our interpersonal relationships have suffered. Online activities have become a new source of temptation for us, an opportunity to live a temporary fantasy or even just a momentary escape from the daily grind ….
A friend of mine recently said, “My computer whispers to me!” I was like: yikes!!! Mine does too, well my phone in my case. I readily admit, at times I don’t manage my time most efficiently because I give in to the lure of the e-life by responding to an audio alert indicating “I’ve got mail,” or to a notification that someone has left me a message on a social media site. This happens often right in the middle of my bible study or preparation of the Word. As a result, I then will waste time because I have spent it unwisely; and therefore, robbing myself of productive time and of more importance a train of thought that the Lord has had me following ….
I’m not saying this is all bad. We can be using social media as a platform for teaching and sharing God’s Word, or we can get swallowed up in the distractions part. Important to note is that we are warned against this in Scripture. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Now, hear me clearly on this: I repeat, I am not saying that electronics or computers are bad. In and of themselves, they aren’t bad. I’m simply suggesting that it would be wise for each of us to prayerfully consider the amount of time and energy we devote to these things ….
How can we be set apart in our e-life? How can we establish some more healthier “e-boundaries” that will protect our purity and our time with God? Boundaries are good things ….
Perhaps we could start by taking an honest look at the amount of time we commit to our social e-lives versus the amount of time we commit to spending in God’s Word and in His presence each day. (Did that sting? Rest assured, it stings me, too).
Very recently, I made a commitment to my Lord which has had me eliminate several of my online activities, including many of my posting spots; but the outcome has been not grievous as I had supposed, but rather quite liberating, and the results have been more time with the Lord and an increased intimacy as we talk more often and I’m gaining deeper revelations as I spend more time in His Word.
The good news is that we can turn to God for direction in all of this. His Word points us to a vital promise of wisdom that will guide us in holiness. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5).
How awesome is that? God loves us so much that He offers us an endless supply of wisdom. We just simply need to ask so that we are enabled to walk in His wisdom and to live each day in His holiness.
Are you holy as God is holy? Do you want to thrive in His divine grace? You can, if you are willing to sacrifice a few things. I have learned that anything worthwhile is gonna cost me something, and if it doesn’t: I need to examine more closely why …
When we determine to grow in sanctification and allow God to lead us to deeper places of divine grace, those around us will see the hope of Christ in us. Isn’t that where we all want to be?
No matter where we find ourselves on the path of sanctification, it is encouraging to remember that God’s not done with us yet. He assures us of this: “God, who began the good work within you will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.” (Philippians 1:6) NLT
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return unto You.” (Psalm 51:10-13)
In closing, please find and take a llittle time to read and meditate on David’s prayer to the Lord found in (Psalm 51:10-13). Another version that I read, I found quite thought provoking, and that was in the Message version: “God, make a fresh start in me. Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!” (Psalm 51:10-12, MSG)
Interesting huh? Spend some time in thought and prayer about this subject. Ask God to reveal to you any e-habits that are sinful, indulgent, or just maybe inappropriate. Check your on-line notification settings and consider eliminating unnecessary email alerts that might distract you from what God might want to say to you this week. I have, and what a difference it has made in my life and my relationship with my Lord ….
Let’s pray ~
My Loving Lord, it is my deepest desire to live and work for Your greater glory, and be a faithful witness to Your grace and goodness to all with whom I should come into contact with. Help me to become more focused as well as fruitful and unceasingly productive in all that I do to Your praise and glory. May I concentrate my efforts in the most efficient and effective way that I may fulfill my daily duties and responsibilities with creativity and integrity, being ever mindful to keep You first. Supply me I pray with the wisdom and discernment that I need to be resourceful and proactive in carrying out my tasks with a positive attitude and cheerful disposition, as well as a sensitive spirit to those I seek to minister that I may reflect Your love to them that Your name may be glorified.
Remove from my heart any foolish desires or selfish motives, and keep me far from seeking after the things of the world that I may be guided by Your Holy Spirit in direction rather than lead by my flesh in distractions. Lead me Lord in the way that I should go and give me clarity of thought and focus on what Your will is for the direction of my life. I pray that by my faith and Your grace I may walk in spirit and in truth, seeking and doing only those things pleasing in Your sight. Help me to follow the path of faith and the road to righteousness that will lead to a life of holiness, not diverted by the daily distractions that the world has to offer. I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and do with me as Thy wilt. Remove from me the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy Will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those whom I would help of Thy love, Thy power, and Thy way of life. May I always seek to do Thy Will and not my own. In Jesus name I pray, Amen …..
God is with us ……