Passage of the Day: Ephesians 4: 1 – 3 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
My Journal for Today: Yes, I know, you’re probably asking, “How many times do we have to keep digging into Paul’s exhortation about living the life of a true Christian.” And here we are today, once again looking at a seminal truth that Christians must grasp which springs from this passage. The truth is that the Christian life is more about attitude than actions.
Note in Eph. 4: 1 - 3 that not one action command or exhortation is registered. If you look at the fruit of the Spirit, listed by Paul in Gal. 5: 22 - 23, you will see that they are all attitudes - “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” So, knowing that all Christians are grace-gifted with all of these Spirit-given fruit, we come to realize that God gives us a foundation of attitude and then we provide Him with the return of actions which reflect those attitudes. And our actions will always result from commitments which spring from the attitudes which precede them.
Right now, as I am, some of you may be thinking about Eph. 2: 8 – 10. I have that passage memorized in the NKJV, so I will type it in that version of Scripture here:
>>> SCRIPTURE: Eph. 2: 8-10 … 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
And relative to the point I made above about Christian attitudes preceding Christians action, you’ve probably already noted it in Paul’s statement of the truth about born-again Christians. We are saved first BY God’s grace THROUGH the believer’s faith UNTO God’s purpose/will for our lives – i.e., good works. It all starts with God’s grace; but our part begins with faith, a God imparted attitude fruit, which produces good works, the God-willed action fruit.
MacArthur in his Strength for Today, from which my observations have come during this study, teaches that “action-fruit,” such as PRAISE (see Heb. 13: 15) or GIVING (see Phil. 4: 17) are simply legalism unless they result from the maturing of His Spirit-implanted “attitude fruit” (again see, Gal. 5: 22 - 23). And we’ve simply got to recognize that this is truth. Many small-c “christians” miss the reality that righteous actions flow naturally – or should we say supernaturally – from righteous attitudes. Nominal “christians” are more into DOING christian-like things to demonstrate being “christian,” rather than LIVING in Christlikeness as God’s Spirit has given us the attitude fruit to be reshaped into the Savior’s image. And that is religion at the expense of relationship … a lifestyle of legalism rather one of worship.
As MacArthur points out, if we DO things based upon the dos and don’ts of legalism, we are attempting to generate external grace from ourselves rather than utilizing the internal grace available to the truly surrendered Christian. That is nothing short of “Phariseeism;” and we know how much Christ hated and railed against the Pharisees (read Matt: 23: 25 - 26), as He said, “Woe to you [the Pharisees]!” …and using the word picture of cleaning the outer cup without cleaning the inner cup, we see how much Jesus valued the inner man [i.e., attitudes] as opposed to the outer [i.e., actions].
>>> SCRIPTURE: Matt. 23: 25-26 ... "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
I don’t know about you; but when I see Jesus in heaven, I truly desire to hear Him say, “Well done!,” … not “Woe to you!” And so, I will continue to pray for and seek those attitudes that lead me to the righteous actions which result from His grace and fruit being born in me. Oh, how I desire to be a reflection of John 15 … a FRUITFUL Christian where my actions are a reflection of Christ’s very essence in me. And I can just hope that others who are reading this now have voiced a resounding, “Amen and amen!”
My Prayer Today: O Lord, I seek Your grace to express Your fruit in what I do. Amen