Alan preached two good sermons yesterday – on Nehemiah in the morning and on Galatians in the evening. In both, he mentioned how that, as Christians, we are called to be different – but not in an outward way, rather in an inward way which will express itself in a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. It got me thinking…..
We are not called to be different in the way we dress, unless that has to do with modesty v immodesty. We don’t have to show we are Christians by wearing weird clothes or having hairstyles which make us stand out as different. We are not called to be different by the places we frequent unless that has to do with morality v immorality. We are not called to be different by the things we eat or drink unless that has to do with the glory of God or offending a weaker Christian.
But we are called to be different by the way we react and interact with others around us. I am currently taking a distance-learning course with CCEF and am learning a lot from David Powlison. One of his favourite images is of a traffic jam and how we each react differently when caught in traffic. Imagine you are caught in a traffic jam at ten minutes to twelve when you have a very important appointment at 12 – whether it be a medical appointment, a business meeting, or an important meeting with an old friend. There is no sign of the traffic clearing and your mobile phone has just died so yo can’t even contact anyone to explain your delay. How do you react? With burning anger at the traffic or at the company doing the roadworks which is causing the traffic jam? With paralyzing anxiety because you don’t want to offend or upset the person you are supposed to be meeting? With great relief because you didn’t want to keep that medical appointment anyway? All of these reactions, David Powlison would suggest, are sinful and come from what is ruling our hearts at that particular moment on that particular morning on that particular road.
As Alan said yesterday, quoting Paul Tripp, most of our lives are spent in the mundane moments of everyday choices. We only ever make two or three major, life-changing decisions in our lives. So what do we do in the middle of the traffic jam? That is where we display – or don’t display – the fruit of the Spirit. That is where we can choose to allow God to take that moment to show us our hearts and what is ruling them (be it our own comfort, the affirmation and acceptance of others, fear of man, our need to feel we are in control, our own pride etc). In that moment, God can rescue us from ourselves and begin to transform us into His image so that we can truly begin to display the fruit of the Spirit.
May God have mercy on us and teach us His grace in those moments in our lives!