I am currently reading Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It's one of those books that ends up overwhelmingly yellow, from being attacked by the high-lighter! Anyways, this point in particular hit me, like a bag of bricks! It got me to thinking, which has got me to writing.
God's love isn't just important; it's essential! True love on our part can only be initiated and sustained by His true love, and the working of the Holy Spirit. Taking this into consideration, we should be alarmed at the self-help books stalking the shelves at the local Christian book store, and we should be just as weary singing songs to the Lord that declare our determination to follow Him, barely mentioning His determination to cause us to do so. It must always start, and stay with God! It's time to close those books that focus on us. And it's time to open our Bible! For when the focus is on Him (as it rightfully should be!), then and only then can authentic, lasting change happen to us!
It is frightening that we have strayed to take the first part of Philippians 4:13 to heart, that "we can do all things", and lost the second (vital!) part "through Christ who strengthens us". When His Word speaks of the believers' responsibilities and abilities, they are never spoken of separate from the fact of God's empowerment. The phrases "through Christ" and "by the Holy Spirit" are always attached to phrases such as: "I can do all things" and "all things are possible." God makes it crystal clear that it is only with Him and through Him, anything gets done. And just in case you still don't believe it, God rewords this idea for us! "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." Get it now?
Here's a thought...
Our relationship with God is ultimately His doing!
It is only by His mercy and grace that we've been pardoned and adopted. It is only by His power and Spirit that we are able to serve Him. It is only by His kindness that we are able to breathe another day. It is only by His sustaining strength that we are able to persevere.
All this to say, it is impossible for a Christian to walk, even a step, independent of His transforming work of love. We ought to be checking ourselves (constantly!) to see if we are under the arrogant delusion that somehow we are the catalyst of change. I mean, who do we think we are? Last time I checked, we deserve nothing! Have we mistaken His mercy to be merited on our part? If so, it's time for a reality check. Get a dictionary! Get a Bible! Mercy is entirely His gracious choice. It has nothing to do with us, apart that it is given to us. We need to humble and surrender our-pitiful-helpless-hopeless-selves, and realize His essential, life-changing love!
O God, let me not forget this - that is is completely and always God at work, lest for one minute I take pride in myself and fall. The only type of falling I want to do is on my knees, in realization of my weakness if left to myself. And thank God, that He doesn't decide to leave me to myself.