I often hear people say, “Oh, patience (or mercy/evangelizing/love/kindness/compassion/etc.) isn’t my thing. I’m just not a patient (or merciful/outgoing/loving/kind/compassionate/etc.) person.” I’m sure I’ve probably said something like that at some point. But it’s one of my biggest frustrations/pet peeves. Not because I expect everyone to be perfect. That’s a totally unrealistic expectation, and certainly one that I could never meet either.
That type of statement drives me nuts because it’s such a subtle way to excuse sin. Since compassion isn’t “my thing,” that somehow excuses my inconsiderate behavior. Patience just isn’t my strong point, so that gives me an excuse to get irritated.
Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking:
The focus is on me instead of Him.
As a Christian, I know that God isn’t just WITH me (although that in itself would be amazing enough), but He’s IN me. I have the Holy Spirit living in me. And He changes everything.
“Regeneration is that miracle of Divine grace wrought in the soul which enlists the affections Godward, which brings the human will into subjection to the Divine, and which produces a real and radical change in the life…from worldliness to godliness, from disobedience to obedience.” (1 John 2:3, 3:9, 4:7, 5:18)
– A.W. Pink
To put it simply, my life must be radically different because of the Holy Spirit. Sure, on my own I may not be a patient/merciful/loving/etc. person. In fact, on my own I’m dead in my sins (Eph. 2:1). So clearly there’s nothing inherently good in me. But I’ve been regenerated. And regeneration leads to radical transformation.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” –Rom. 8:9-11
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Gal. 2:20
It’s no longer me living. Christ is living in me. I’m radically different because I’ve got the Almighty God living in me! Seriously, think about that. How can I say that and NOT be radically different?!
People tell me all the time that I’m such a nice person. And many times, I think “Are you kidding me? You don’t think that person annoys me too?” or “You honestly think I would WANT to drag myself out of bed to serve?” and so on.
Anything good in me is just proof that Christ lives in me. I’ve said it many times already and I’ll say it many more times: I have been radically transformed by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
My human nature wants to serve me, but when I give God complete control and know that Christ lives in me, my attitudes and desires radically change.
When my flesh wants to be rude, Christ in me is patient.
When my flesh wants to be bitter, Christ in me offers forgiveness.
When my flesh wants to be weak, Christ in me is strong.
When my flesh wants to be harsh, Christ in me shows mercy.
So let’s stop using the “that’s just the way I am” statement to excuse sin and start letting Christ take over every single area of our lives. When I notice an attitude/behavior in me that isn’t Christ-like, I need to step back, repent of my sin, and commit that attitude/behavior to Him so that in time, I’ll see a radical transformation.
The Bible is full of transformation stories: people who met Jesus and were radically changed. For example: brash, cocky Peter became loving, humbled Peter; doubting Thomas became filled with belief; Saul the persecutor became Paul the persecuted.
I want to be another transformation story.
And by the grace of God, I am.
Thank You, Lord!
God’s grace in my life today:
I had a great time discussing stewardship in my core group and am excited to watch God use more of my time and money for His glory!