Monday, April 3, 2017

Spiritual Disciplines Can Develop Slowly

So this morning, after I had arrived at work, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten my Bible reading from the day before. I didn’t do it intentionally, and I know that God wasn’t up there shaking his finger down at me, but I nonetheless felt bad. An interesting, but familiar feeling came over me: “I’ll just make it up today.”

But I think this misses the point of Bible reading. It implicitly assumes that Bible reading is a thing to be done, something to be completed on one’s daily spiritual checklist. But this isn’t the primary benefit of Bible reading at all. The primary benefit is to get to know God better; it is to read what God has given us to read, to learn what he wants us to learn. It is there to deepen our relationship with him. And, as anyone who knows what a good or close friendship is like realizes, a relationship can’t simply be forged by putting in more time later. It must be cultivated. So it is with Bible reading. So I simply planned on reading the chapters I had missed (and did!), instead of trying to play “catch up.”

Another issue with the catch-up mentality is that it becomes a debt that is too overwhelming to pay. If I were to read two days’ worth, I could do it, but then I would be doing it simply to do it, not to gain much out of it. Now think about something that you know you should be better at, perhaps a spiritual discipline (such as prayer) or giving to your local church out of a generous heart. Take prayer, for an example. If you aren’t currently praying, then, probably, telling yourself you’re going to pray for an hour a day isn’t going to work. You’ll “get behind,” and then discouraged, and soon enough you’ll be back to prayerlessness. Instead, start with a quick prayer of praise and worship for who God is, followed by a confession of a specific sin. This can be done in fifteen seconds. Now try this at various points throughout the day, including requests that come to your mind. You can always work up to longer periods, but you’re growing now!

The same goes with giving. I know that, to many, ten percent is the standard for giving. But for someone who isn’t currently giving, that can appear back-breaking. After all, take the average person who lives, more or less, month-to-month. If you’re suddenly asking them to take on a $300-$400 per month bill (or more!), they’re more likely to feel overwhelmed and do nothing. Instead, encourage people to give from the kindness of the hearts, whatever the Lord may be leading them to do. Start small, but be glad!

What other areas do you think this has application to? What would your advice to someone be about those areas? Let me know below!

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