There's a difference between an ideal and a vision. An ideal has no moral inspiration...a vision does. The people who give themselves over to ideals rarely do anything. A man's conception of Deity may be used to justify his deliberate neglect of his duty. Jonah argued that because God was a God of justice and of mercy, therefore everything would be all right. We may have a right conception of God, and that may be the very reason why we don't do our duty. But wherever there's vision, there's also a life of rectitude because the vision imparts moral incentive.
Ideals may lull to ruin. Let's take stock of ourselves spiritually and see whether we have ideals only or if we have vision.
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"
"Where there's no vision. . . ." When once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless, we cast off certain restraints, we cast off praying, we cast off the vision of God in little things, and begin to act on our own initiative. If we're eating what we have out of our own hand, doing things on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we're on the downward path, we've lost the vision. Let's ask ourselves...is our attitude today an attitude that springs from our vision of God? Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done?
Let's ask ourselves: Is there a freshness and vigour in our spiritual out look?
Having No Habits
"For if these things are yours and abound,
they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful."
(2 Peter 1:8)
When we begin to form a habit, we're conscious of it. There are times when we're conscious of becoming virtuous and patient and godly, but it's only a stage; if we stop there, we'll get the strut of "the spiritual prig". The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practised that there's no conscious habit at all. Our spiritual life continually resolves into introspection because there are some qualities we've not added as yet. Ultimately the relationship is to be a completely simple one.
Our god may be our little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. Watch how our Father will upset those times if we begin to worship our habit instead of what the habit symbolizes---We can't do that just now, we're praying; it's our hour with God. No, it's our hour with our habit. There's a quality that's lacking in us. Let's recognize the defect, and then look for the opportunity of exercising ourselves along the line of the
quality to be added.
More On A Christian Habit
"For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful."
(2 Peter 1:8)
When we begin to form a habit, we're conscious of it. After a time we cease to think about it. In our life with the Lord, every act is real, not a conscious habit at all, but a part of the lifeline we maintain with God. We breathe constantly, yet it's far from a 'habit." Our heart beats with the ultimate regularity, yet is so vital that we can't call it a 'habit.' Ultimately our spiritual life is to be completely simple...not consisting of habits, but of vital actions that maintain our relationship with God.
Let's think about a 'habit'---a habit is a practice that we've pursued so regularly that it happens without our even planning it. For some, it may be hanging the car keys on a certain hook when they walk in the door. They don't even think about it. Sometimes it's a matter of checking the lock on the door after the person comes in the house. It isn't planned, they just do it. Even animals can develop habits. My granddaughter's little dog goes to the stairs automatically at her bedtime, no one even has to call him. It's a mindless activity---a habit.
For many Christians...we may have our little habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading or study time. On the surface it seems a good thing to pursue automatically. We can tell it's a 'habit' if we're disturbed when something disrupts our routine. When we can't carry out some necessary work just now because "it's our 'quiet time' with God", there's something deeply wrong. It's ceased to be a vital activity and become an hour-with-our-habit.
Some teachers emphasize that we make the prayer time or study time a habit and that everyone knows that, so we won't be disturbed. When it becomes important that everyone know when our 'quiet time' is, it ceases to be the vital communication with God and becomes our little self-gratifying habit. Our communication and relationship with God must evolve because of our vital need to read and study and pray, not because we've set aside a 'quiet time' with the Lord. If something interfers, we can lay down the Bible and when we return, minutes or hours later, our communication with God will have been so vital that we pick up exactly where we left off.
It's when such things become routine that we can recognize what's lacking in us, and that we have substituted a mindless routine for a valuable activity. Let's check our prayer life. Is our praying pretty much along the lines of a child's recitation? "Bless mom and dad, make sister be nice to me. Make me be good. Take care of grandma and grandpa, bless the dog...'N Jesus name, Amen." Or do they vary from day to day, reflecting the trials, burdens and blessings related to our life?
Let's think about our Bible reading and study. Do we lose our place in the Bible because we just remembered that the car oil needs changing or the baby cried? Have we ever skimmed an entire chapter and then realized that we don't remember a word of it? Have we ever lost our place in the middle of the chapter? Do we have to have a study outline to keep track of where we are in our studies? Any of these...should make us realize that our prayer and bible time has become a routine that happens whether or not we're concentrating on the practice; whether or not we're really involved in the process.
Our connection with God must be more like our heartbeat or breath---vital, necessary, an ongoing occurrance that gives us life. If we're consciously holy, we become tied up in the process of 'being a Christian' and not involved in the relationship with the Father. That means there's something missing. When living for the Lord becomes a habit we've lost the relationship.
The only example of the godlike life, is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was in communication with God anywhere and all the time. We must surely make time to be alone with God, to read His Word, to study with Him, to share communication in prayer, but it can't be habit. It must be a vital piece of our day!