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The spirit is willing...

Stephen Morris

The spirit is willing... but how weak is our flesh?

For those of you who use Jeff Lucas’s very helpful daily bible notes, ‘Life Every Day’, may find what I have to say this time rather familiar. Then again, you may not as it was something which diligent readers will have come across nearly two months ago now. It’s a good thing we have a gracious God, because you will all know now just how far behind I am in my notes, though in my defence it is a week or two since I read this bit.

It’s one of those phrases that leaps off the page and smacks you between the eyes: or at least, it did so for me. ‘Jesus isn’t interested in just affecting part of our lives: our broad morality, our belief system, what we do with our Sunday mornings. Rather He comes to take authority in every area of our existence, how we ‘do’ life in our workplaces, leisure time and when nobody else is watching.’

Like so many things God is trying to say to us, it’s blindingly obvious and a very simple truth. Yet putting it into practice is far from obvious and simple.

Most, hopefully all, of us who are Christians do have a ‘broad morality’ which roughly coincides with the most obvious of the Ten Commandments. Our hearts are inclined to love our neighbours, so long as they’re not too obnoxious anyway, not to kill or steal: though maybe we don’t see much wrong in coveting our neighbour’s ox (or their new car or 55in plasma screen telly) or even his wife (after all it will never lead anywhere: will it?). Obviously Jesus fundamentally affects our belief system, and on Sunday most of us potter off to church and smile nicely at each other, though do we always engage with worship, the sermon and each other as well as we might?

‘Doing’ life in our workplaces, leisure time and when nobody else is watching is possibly a different matter. Do we allow the odd unkind or unworthy word slip out when we’re under pressure at work? Do we ‘love’ our neighbour by standing up for them when everyone else is having a good gossip at their expense? Do we try to retain the moral high ground when the conversation at work, at college, at school, gets a bit ribald? In our leisure time is ‘me’ time more importance than ‘God’ time or ‘helping-someone-else-out-time’? How do we act when no-one is watching? What do we allow to go in the recesses of our mind? Would we allow quite so much to go on in those dark recesses or our mind if somehow those thoughts could be tapped into and flashed up on the screen at church on a Sunday morning?

We all long to let Jesus take authority over every area of our lives; that’s what being a Christian is all about. But while the spirit is willing — most of the time anyway — our flesh is weak, and we can so easily drift further and further away from letting Jesus take authority in our lives without even noticing. It’s a gradual and insidious process.

Mercifully we have a gracious God who loves us and is always willing to let us try again. Is it time to give ourselves a little spiritual check-up and see if we are giving Jesus authority in as many areas of our lives as we think we are? If we find we’re not, Jesus is willing to help us back to the place we should be. He’s not waiting to admonish us for our weakness but rather will welcome your resolve to try again: and will help you in it if you let him.