Week of February 29
Remaining Spiritually Stable
Would you describe your spiritual life as stable? Or does it waver and wobble? Are you guided by the Holy Spirit or by the prevailing mood of the culture? One of the consequences of diminished joy is spiritual instability. This condition leads to burnout and discouragement; it leads to doubt and total ineffectiveness in the ministry of Christ. Spiritual instability opens our lives up to spiritual attack during a time when we are too misguided to realize the danger. Just as we need to remain on guard to protect our joy, we also need to watch for the warning signs of spiritual instability.
We are reminded throughout the New Testament to stand firm in our faith: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22). "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). "For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 3:8).
We can stand firm because we know that Christ has already defeated the enemy of death and the grave, and He has conquered sin and Satan. We do not have to fight that battle; it was won on the cross. Our call is to stand firm against a defeated enemy. We stand firm because Christ has already obtained the victory for us.
By standing firm and upholding the Truth of the Gospel, we remain focused on the things that matter most. But when we waver, we are likely to bicker over the minor issues. In the church at Philippi, two women were engaged in an ongoing argument over a trivial matter. Paul wrote, "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel" (Philippians 4:2, 3).
Paul knew their stubborn insistence on their own opinions would steal their joy and lead to destabilization in their spiritual walks. He knew their arguments would lead to bitterness, vengefulness, and hostility. But when we live in harmony with others, our hearts are better able to focus on Christ.
We can protect our spiritual condition by remaining joyful in the Lord. When we place all of our sufficiency in Christ, we will naturally want to rejoice. We experience sufficiency in the Lord when we routinely spend time with Him in order to know His character, His Word, His promises, and His will for our lives. Then our hearts will be focused on godly things, instead of our tendencies toward gossip, pride, selfishness, and bitterness.
Paul further encourages us to remain faithful to God in prayer. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6, 7).
We feed our stabilizing joy by filling our minds with godly thoughts. Whatever fills our minds will come out in our actions and decisions. If we focus on our bitterness, our self-pity, our selfish desires, we will become miserable people. Paul encouraged the Philippians, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8, 9).
How stable is your spiritual walk today? If you have allowed your joy to diminish, you are in danger of spiritual instability. Pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance to show you areas that have been weakened in your spiritual life, and ask Him for the power to strengthen your relationship with Christ.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
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