Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the Gospel is real—that it has really changed us. We would rather grasp at our perceived good works and lists of accomplishments than cling to the only accomplishment that really saves us. I had been feeling like I needed a good dose of the Gospel in my life to refresh my delight in Christ’s work on my behalf, so I picked up a book called Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It has been so helpful, even in the short amount of time that I have been reading it. I will leave you with a few quotes that ministered to me tremendously.

“God first transforms our hearts, then it changes our behaviors. He does transform our outer, more noticeable behavior (where we usually focus), but this transformation has its genesis in the renovation of the hidden inner person. Without the recognition of this prior and ongoing work of love, we won’t have the courage or strength we’ll need to fight sin in the way he is calling us to. We won’t have the faith to continue to say, ‘Yes Lord,’ unless we’re resting securely in the eternal yes he has spoken over us.”

I love the last line. All of God’s promises find their “yes” in the work of Christ, and if we are in Christ those “yes's” are ours. What an amazing gift that we have received. So often I focus on external behavioral changes, rather than heart changes. I get angry and react against behaviors without ever attempting to discern the heart behind the behavior. If the heart is not first dealt with, these same sin patterns will continue to manifest themselves in other ways until the heart has been changed by Christ. This is a good, but continually needed reminder.

She also says,

“Most of us view God’s love and the gospel as elementary topics meant to get us in the front door of faith, and they are that. But we’ve forgotten how these truths are to transform us every moment of every day—when we’re watching our favorite team lose, when the roast is still as raw as it was when we left for church, when we’re tempted to believe that we’re nothing more than unloved, disrespected, hungry losers.”

Every circumstance that pans out contrary to our expectations is a test, whether it is a friend failing to call us, unemployment that will not end, or a husband who doesn’t remember to take out the trash when we have asked him three times. Will we respond in a way that recognizes that, in Christ, we have received far better than we deserve? Or will we respond in anger and frustration because we feel like we deserve better than we are getting in that moment. I appreciate this conviction because so often I do not respond well. I react. I get angry. I pout. This is not the attitude of a redeemed sinner. Instead of living out of the truth of the Gospel’s work in my life, most of the time I live out of the fleshly woman still raging inside of me.

So, as I read this book (and I hope you will, too!) I want to love the Gospel more when I get to the last page. It’s not because I first loved Him, but because He first loved me.


2520 said...

That was very encouraging, Courtney! Thanks. Love ya! Andrea

debt said...

Wow! I was hit right between the eyes! Convicting, but freeing! I needed that! Thanks!

steph said...

I love you Courtney! You should post again! :)