August 4, 2016
Is Your Faith One of Duty or Desire?
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My ministry is primarily with women, and often the subject of marriage comes up. And for those brave souls who dare ask the hard questions, sex surfaces as one of the top three areas of marital tension. Questions brim from frustration and sometimes my answers are not what they want to hear. Frequency? What is acceptable and unacceptable? What is required?
Required? Do women really ask that? Yep. Required. That’s the word they use. Far too many women, Christians included, approach the marriage bed with a sense of duty rather than desire. And you know what? A husband always knows the difference. He can tell the difference. It is not the melody his heart longs for—a song in which his wife desires him, enjoys him and looks forward to their moments of intimacy.
And guess what? God knows the difference, too. I’m not talking about sexual intimacy here. I’m talking about spiritual intimacy. God can tell when we are serving Him out of duty and when we are serving Him out of an overflow of our great love. He knows when our time with Him is simply a number on our to-do list and when it is our heart’s greatest desire.
We dutifully work and we strive and we study and we push and we push and we push. If we stop all this bustling about to become good Christians, we just might fall in love with Jesus all over again.
David sang, “In your presence is fullness of joy!” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). In Your presence… The Hebrew word for “joy” used here is simchah and means glee, gladness, intense joy, pleasure, rejoicing, an outward expression. It is not simply an outward emotion but an inner soul.
Serving God out of duty will leave you drained emotionally and spiritually. Ramping up religious duties may cause people to give more money, time and resources without giving what God longs for most…the heart.
Serving God out of desire may leave you tired physically, but you will not be drained. Sometimes serving God out of desire, out of the overflow of a relationship with Him, can make you downright giddy.
Paul wrote: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Inexpressible joy! We can’t even describe it with words. Glorious joy! Joy that is full of heaven and a reflection of the very face of God. Even in our most difficult circumstances, we can still experience “inexpressible and glorious joy.”
The wordjoy comes from a word that means, “making merry.” I am taken back to C. S. Lewis musing that Christians lack “merriment.” Could it be that one of the reasons we lack merriment, that we lack joy, is that we are not acknowledging His presence as we live and move and have our being in Christ? Could it be that we falsely think that we are on this journey basically alone with little visits from God every now and then?
Our freedom, our passion, our joy that comes from intimacy with God spilling out will always unnerve those confined by the limits of law and driven by duty. They will attempt to rein us in, calm us down, and shush our praise. Some call it reverence. I call it sad.
The sophisticated churchgoer looks on with disdain as the winsome worshipper raises her hands and sings with reckless abandonment. But secretly, in her heart of hearts, I wonder if she longs for that same freedom? What if she muses before commonsense pushes the wonderings aside?
The world is watching. Is there a smile on your face that stirs others to want to join in and experience those moments of sudden glory? Or is there a scowl on your brows that make others turn away because the Christian life appears too hard?
I think of Olympic runner, Eric Liddell’s words: “I run because when I do, I feel God’s pleasure.” I live and move and have my being in Him because it brings me joy.
Heavenly Father, in Your presence is fullness of joy. I mean the kind of joy that runs over and spills onto those around me! I lift my hands and praise You today! I clap my hands in thanksgiving to You today! I give a shout for joy because of You today! May merriment be on my tongue and joy be on my lips. I pray others will want to know what I have to be so happy about!
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 150. I don’t know about you, but I think the person who wrote that was chock full of merriment!
If someone held up a DVD cover titled How to Use a Sewing Machine Step-by-Step and a DVD cover titled Rafting Down the Amazon River, which one would reflect your Christian life the best? Why?
That’s a fun question. Click over to my Facebook page and share you answer.
More from the Girlfriends
Do want more merriment in your Christian life? Are you ready for it to be a great adventure rather than a “how-to” faith? Do you long for something more in your relationship with God? Do you hunger to experience God’s presence on a daily basis? The good new is that God wants that even more than you do. Right smack dab in the spin of the laundry and the sizzle of the bacon—as you live and more and have your being in Him. This summer, take some time to “be still and know”—to hear His still small voice—to dust for His fingerprints on the pages of your everyday life. My book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More will show you how. It also includes a study guide and free online Bible study videos. And while you’re on my website, check out the Praying Wives app for smart devices.
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Girlfriends in God
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Huntersville, NC 28070
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