There once were five little frogs sitting beside a pond. Three of them decided to jump in…. How many were left sitting by the pond…?
Answer: Just 2?
Well actually this is the wrong answer. The correct answer is “All FIVE!”
You see, the reality is that they just DECIDED to jump in – they didn’t actually jump!
Isn’t that very like our behaviour and attitudes too?
Well, it’s like mine at any rate.
Now that lockdown is gradually easing, I am struck by the number of resolutions I’ve made during the past three months which have come to very little in some cases. Far be it from me to lecture anyone else about our good deeds as part of our Christian life – I wouldn’t dare! What I can focus on is the false promises and resolutions that I myself have made to myself, to others and to God.
They say that confession is good for the soul, so here is a list of just a few of the things I had been very active in planning:
- Investigate new material for worship groups
- Phone round people in church and phone back if they are not in
- Do more reading of Christian literature, some of which has been lying in the house for years
- Do more determined reading and study of scripture
- Get to know neighbours better
I acknowledge before God that I have been only partially successful in carrying these out. The first and third ones were non-starters. My excuse is that I didn’t feel led in that direction! I have phoned people of course, but have not always been thorough in my resolution of phoning back if they were not at first available. I have been all too happy just to leave them a message. My inherent lazy streak which is present in most of us, allows me all too often to take the easy way out or to do things in a cursory, casual way, which ticks a box, but does not do the business in a way which honours God wholly.
Ours is a salvation by Grace and through Faith. By this we are justified; it is not of works. Ephesians 2 v 8-9. One of the downsides of this truth is that we as evangelical Christians perhaps tend to downplay the need for backing up our faith by our deeds. After all, we have complete freedom in Christ just to enjoy the forgiveness of sins – past, present and future. We fear that if we put too much emphasis on good deeds, it seems as though we are trusting in a “works salvation.” The book of James in the New Testament has something to say about this: In Ephesians 2 v 18 of his letter, he says:
But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds!’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
Relying on God’s grace alone for our salvation is absolutely what we should be doing. However, to disregard the need for Spirit-inspired living is the greatest disservice we can do to the Name of Christ Whom we claim to serve.
The deeds in themselves do not save us, but they do glorify God if we are prompted by the Spirit of God to live out the fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5 v 22-23
In the sermon series recently, Geoff has been speaking of the knocks and bumps we get along the Christian road. What should emerge from such collisions is the Spirit of God with which we are to be filled. If it overflows to others then suddenly our Christian lives have a relevance which others will benefit from and which God can use to extend His kingdom by speaking into the lives of others.
Let us guards our times with Him and in His Word, keep up the habit of getting to know and rely on God, confessing our failings and asking for help to stand against the enemy’s tactics, being filled with the Spirit and open to pursuing His will for our lives.
As you think of those five frogs, don’t just decide to do this or that, but do it in His strength.
Do whatever He tells you!
John 2 v 5b