If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our heart to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine.
-Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
Read Philippians 1:19-21.
There is a children’s story that tells of barnyard animals enamored with their owner. As the farmer loved his animals and cared for them like no other, so the animals were fervent in their love for the master. Barnyard discussions often centered on how each could outdo the other in demonstrating their affection. One day a fine hen was overcome with a remarkable idea. She boldly approached the pig to announce her plan and seek his help. The hen suggested they fix an excellent breakfast of ham and eggs for the farmer and his family. The pig thought for a moment and then replied, “For you, that would be a small sacrifice, but for me, it would take total commitment!”
Paul demonstrates the proper attitude of commitment for the Christian in these verses. Whether good or bad comes, he is convinced that to live is Christ and to die is gain. In my life, the issues I struggle with most are usually things I have already “laid on the altar”—given to God. I have given God my finances, my job, my family, my time, and my possessions. The problem I have is that often I find that the things I have placed on the altar somehow have “climbed off” and become mine again. Then when God asks for them back, I want to bristle. It’s hard to trust Him in this; I can’t seem to do it!
I must keep coming back to this truth: When I became a Christian, I made Jesus Master of everything in my life. Everything! But the rights that I gave up don’t compare to the fellowship with my Lord that I get in return. When I do things to regain control or ownership, that’s when I struggle.
Can you say, “I am dead to what I want and alive to what Christ wants?” It requires a daily, “whole hog” commitment to living that way. Anything less is a sign that you don’t fully trust God with all your life.
Before the Lord, make a list of any areas in your life that you are withholding from His Lordship. Memorize Philippians 1:21. Pray for forgiveness in any area where you have tried to take back control and make it an act of your will to give it back to God.