Do we hand ourselves over or do we live by real devotion? Part 2

by | Dec 10, 2017 | Abouth faith, Personal growth

Today I would like to look at how we can live a life of devotion and shed that victim mentality of living at the mercy of others. As we have seen in this Article from last week, there is a huge difference between real devotion and this presumed devotion that has much more to do with being at the mercy of others, with handing oneself over. From the outside the difference is difficult to see, but a hint to the fact that we are not living in real devotion is the taste of bitterness it leaves in our lives.

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Also, being at the mercy of others comes with powerlessness, worthlessness, lack of identity, victimization while making the other the culprit.

Real devotion means that there is passion, identity, security, self-determination, royalty, respectability, freedom. It makes the other person an honorable recipient.

It’s not about what we do or how we do it. We can do something the very same way, one time in real devotion and the other time with this attitude of being at the mercy of others.

It is about the picture we have on the inside. What we believe about God, about the other person.

Has our culture (the culture we live in but also our church culture and family culture) made us believe that the only thing that matters is that we are humbly serving Christ?

Well, I do agree. That’s very important. However, few teachings talk about the attitude behind that truth.

Few know that “meekness” is not the same as “weakness”.

When Jesus said:

„Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. Matt 11.29”

He did not mean a kind of devotion that is at the mercy of others and of God. He did not talk about giving ourselves up in that way.

Let’s see how Jesus behaved in one of the most challenging situations during His time on earth: the time around his arrest and crucifixion.

It was during the moment, when He told his disciples to wait and pray:

He went a little farther, fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”Mark 14.36

He fell on the ground. He sweated blood. What dramatic situation! But he said: ABBA father.
Abba is an Aramaic word used by young children when addressing their fathers, but not used by Jews in prayer because of the word’s implied familiarity. Jesus’ use of the word emphasized his Father-Son relationship with God.

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Jesus knew his position. He knew his father. He was doing everything he did out of love.

If his attitude was being at the mercy of others, living the “meekness” many of us Christian are taught to live, he would probably have thought in that situation:

“What a tyrant! Just look at the situation He led me into again! Father, I have given myself to you, I have given up my right to have a family and children, an easy and comfortable life. I have agreed to provoke people with my behavior. I’ve done everything in your name, I’ve healed the sick, preached for hours, I’ve even raised the dead back to live, the kids came to me and I endured these 12 disciples … now they thank me that way? They sleep in this dramatic hour, and one of them will betray me for a few silver coins. I can’t believe they do that to me, after all that I’ve invested! Am I not the son of God!?”

Or, he would be passive, stoic and numb; feeling that if this is the will of God he wants to obey him. His prayer would have been: “God in heaven, I will follow your path. I am only a sinner in your eyes, and it’s by grace you use me. Do everything you want, just let me be with you in heaven in the end again, just as you promise in your word.”

We know that Jesus did not think that way. That was never his motivation. He was living his live in devotion, motivated by love.

His whole being was filled with passion, identity, security, self-determination, royalty, respectability, freedom.  He made others (and in the end you and me) to an honorable recipient.

A little later we can see how he interacted with those who came to seize him:

“Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then they came and seized Jesus and arrested Him.And one (We know by John that this was Peter) of those who were with Jesus reached out and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will immediately provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

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    (we know that a legion was about 6000 troops) How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?”

At that moment Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as you would against a robber? Day after day I used to sit in the porches and courts of the temple teaching, and you did not arrest Me.”

Mat 26.50-55

Later, Jesus was questioned by the high priest:

“Then the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. Jesus answered to him, I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue and in the temple where the Jews congregate and I have spoken nothing secretly.
Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard what I said to them. See! They know what I said.
But when He said this, one of the attendants who stood by struck Jesus, saying, Is that how You answer the high priest?
Jesus replied, If I have said anything wrong [if I have spoken abusively, if there was evil in what I said] tell what was wrong with it. But if I spoke rightly and properly, why do you strike Me?

John 18.19-23

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Jesus knew who he was. He had a boldness and a royality, was filled with passion, security, self-determination, royalty, respectability, freedom.

What does that have to do with our lives?

Well – everything.

There is a scripture in Hosea 6.6 that says:

For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.

God is not only interested in our willingness to give everything, to make sacrifices and in our attitude to do his will.

He delights in us knowing him, who he truly is. He delights in us knowing his Love and goodness, and doing everything motivated by that.

Exactly like the father of the story from the prodigal son, who never wanted his son to work and behave like a slave – He is longing for a relationship, for his son understanding his true identity – he longs for us to stop living our lives in an attitude of living at the mercy of others.

Let’s look at the examples from the last article:

  • Staying with my husband only because the Bible requires it
  • Having sex with my spouse because this is a duty in marriage
  • Being committed to ministry, doing what I am doing because I feel I have to, or because the church has nobody else to do the work.
  • Helping out with money for my adult children because I’m afraid they will have too little to live on otherwise

Here’s how this would look if I live by real devotion:

 

  • Staying with my husband only because the Bible requires itI stop wishing secretly that my husband would die in an accident in order that I would be “legally” free of him.I choose what I really want, carefully considering every aspect in prayer, letting God touch my heart and speak to me. And then I do it. I know a beautiful lady who was in this situation. A wise friend of her showed her how wrong it was to wish the death of her husband in order to be free. She then started to consider her options, carefully considering every aspect in prayer. She chosed to stay. (Her husband was not abusive or a bad person – but simply not able to be emotionally present.) She entered into real devotion. She experienced a God that honored that decision in many ways , and today, many years later, she has a very different husband who has grown a lot in this area of emotional intimacy too. Being in a situation where there is no possibility to choose anything else than staying – choose to get to know your God. His love for you. Enter into that identity of being a son/daughter of God. You will love the amazing things he can do for you in your inside – and all around you!
  • Having sex with my spouse because this is a duty in marriage. I have been guilty of that many times. This until God began to stir up a revelation in me that this was not devotion. That I simply put myself at the mercy of what I knew I had to do, thinking it was my duty in marriage.  Well, today I still agree to have sex with my husband if I am not up to it. That didn’t change. Tired of a long day, the kids are finally all asleep, my desire is often different than to give this time to my husband and our intimacy. But I choose to still do it. I decide that our intimacy is enough important for me to agree for it – and I give myself into it wholeheartedly. Not because I have to or because the Bible says so or because my husband is disappointed otherwise. But because I know my priorities. I know that our intimacy is something I want to cherish. I want to show him that I deeply care, and that I love him..
  • Being committed to ministry, doing what I am doing because I feel I have to, or because the church has nobody else to do the work. Are you acting like the older brother of the prodigal son? Are you working hard, making ministry a priority in order to please God (and the people)? Feeling that others always demand more of you than you already give and that you are the “victim“ of their wills and expectations? Are you annoyed of other people around you who don’t invest their lives as much as you do, but who still experience God’s love and faithfulness as much (and sometimes more) than you do? Well, these facts are hints that you are not living in real devotion. They are hints that you may be living at the mercy of others, doing things in powerlessness, worthlessness, a lack of identity, victimization while making the other the culprit.
  • Helping out with money for my adult children because I’m afraid they will have too little to live on otherwise
    There’s a whole attitude behind it. Giving  when I want to because I long to endow my children, want to find ways to show that I care about them and love them – well, this is very different to giving them money while making them feel in every occasion that they owe you something, expecting them to give something back in form of phone calls, visits or anything else.

In the next article we are going to see how his subject has to do not only with personal growth but as much with how we raise our children. This article and the last one are the foundation of the subject of next week’s post! See you then!

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