Monday, July 2, 2018

Anything but ordinary

Gonna ask a tough question this morning - how many of us actually live disciplined lives? A disciplined life is characterized by self-control, orderly and prescribed conduct, and exercise in things that produce solid moral character.  Most of us would associate ourselves with some other 'title' than 'disciplined' - especially when we consider all the areas of our lives where discipline may not be exercised. I don't always have a disciplined life with every aspect of my house cleaning, nor my maintenance of flowerbeds. Sometimes I let dust build up, and a few things to get gangling growth before I do anything about it. If we have mastered the art of living disciplined lives, it is usually in some area such as our finances, health, exercise, etc.  The type of discipline that is required to produce a 'spacious life' encompasses these types of 'disciplined living' and much more.

An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny; an obedient, God-willed life is spacious. 
(Proverbs 15:32 MSG)

The self-willed man is one who directs attention to his own needs without considering the outcome as it relates to his overall character, or the potential impact it will have on the character of another who follows his example.  In other words, if it feels good, gets me what I think I want, or makes me feel better about the situation I am in right now, I direct my attention toward those things because they give me an immediate fulfillment of some 'good' feelings.  The will of man is that which is exercised within us that reveals choice, appetite and passion.  A self-willed person has appetite and passion focused on what brings gratification to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. The God-willed man focuses on what choices God would have him make as it relates to his eternal well-being, and the example his choices set for others. God is not as focused on our immediate pleasure, although it matters to him, as much as he is on our eternal well-being and reward - because the only thing that really matters to him is the eternal.  The writer makes it clear that the God-willed man is living in obedience to the direction or oversight of his will (his decisions) by his heavenly Father, forsaking the desires of his own will when they do not match the will of God.

A puny life is the reward of the self-willed because self can only think of self - self-focused individuals end up with a rather 'puny' focus on life because that focus can see no further than the reach of their own hands.  Choices, desires and intentions are all directed at building up, protecting, or driving forward the agenda that creates the sense of internal and external gratification of selfish desires - what pleases me at the moment regardless of how it might affect others. In truth, a puny life is characterized by weakness.  In other words, the self-centered, self-willed man is given to those things that don't really allow strength to be established in the inner part of him which some refer to as his moral character. The reward of a self-willed man is also puny.  All his striving and conniving really does not pay off in the end with the reward he was hoping for - aim low and you will hit that target every time.  A spacious life is the reward of the godly. Spaciousness can be thought of as that which produces ample, or larger than is ordinarily realized results.  It is a comfortable life - magnificent in every way.

We will do well to examine our choices. They reflect our heart - the desires we nurture within that end up being acted upon in some for or another in our daily choices. If we find they are a little too focused on self, we need to make some course adjustments, because that course of action will always lead us down paths riddled with regret, not all that fulfilling in the long run, and potentially harmful to those who see our lives as examples they should follow.  If they are correctly focused on the only thing that can really 'center' us in life (God), then we will find ourselves moving from ego-centric choices to God-centric choices on a pretty consistent basis. Remember:  God's economy makes us extra-ordinary in every possible way.  If we find our focus is consistently on the ordinary, we may want to ask God to increase our vision for the extra-ordinary. Just sayin!