31 July 2011

Tending to Your Soul

I know I've been posting a lot of other people's material lately. Hopefully that will change soon, but right now I'm in the midst of studying for an exam while also trying to make some headway on my upcoming research papers. Once I can cross something off the list, perhaps I'll have some of my own thoughts to share! The good news is that there are many bloggers out there who write far more eloquently than I, so I am never short of material!

The following article from The Cripplegate particularly caught my eye and I loved the message it conveyed. Though admittedly convicting, in this post author Josh Thiessen offers some biblical thoughts on the importance of diligently tending to our souls:

Tending to Your Soul

by Josh Thiessen


When my wife and I bought our first home this past year, it came with a spot tilled for gardening, so we thought to ourselves, “Why not have a garden this year?” We thought it would be a great experience together. So we planted in the spring and waited. My first reaction was one of amazement. How could life come from something that looks so dead? Yet, that is exactly what happened. From the seemingly lifeless seeds, sprouted green plants.


But then something else happened. As the plants grew, weeds began to crop up and crowd out the other plants and then pesky critters began nibbling away at the plants. In one case, our beans didn’t even produce. So I began to learn that I must vigilantly tend to the garden. It wasn’t going to produce a lush harvest if I didn’t come in and take the weeds out and even shoot (scare) off the bunnies in an Elmer Fudd kinda way.


If I was diligent, my lettuce and other plants would flourish unharmed by the rabbits and weeds. But if I forgot to tend to it for a few days, sure enough there would be traces of rabbit fur and no lettuce or strawberries left. Both the weeds and rabbits posed a daily threat.


This is not unlike our own spiritual life. Christians face a different but similar daily problem: sin. It crowds out godliness and spreads like a plague. Then slowly, we tend to the sinful weeds and begin to grow again until we again forget to tend to our souls and the weeds creep back in. How do we avoid this as Christians? The truth is that we can’t completely avoid it, but the Bible does gives us the tools for tending to our soul. This tending is tedious and is so easily neglected that we must remain on guard at all times. 
I remember thinking as a younger christian that people were legalistic when they would tell everyone that they must read their Bibles and pray every day tobe godly. Now I realize that it wasn’t so much that they thought you could earn favor with God by doing it, but that experience had taught them without the consistent pruning effect of Scripture and prayer , no one will ever grow spiritually. The bottom line that I was trying to avoid was that those people were right about one thing: godliness takes hard work. Paul put it this way: 
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim 4:7-8). 
The idea here is that it is going to take effort. Realizing that even sanctification is a work of the Spirit (2 Thess 2:13), we are charged in Scripture to train ourselves towards godliness. Remember training for a sport or music concert? It took determination and dedication towards a single goal. For a Christian the reward is a life pleasing to God that is characterized by godliness and one day hearing those amazing words “well done, good and faithful servant.” The flip side is living a lazy spiritual life that leads to uselessness in the here and now and holds little hope for reward in the life to come. 
I don’t know about you, but I want to have a life characterized by the former. Even if it means getting up earlier and staying up later. The hard work of tending to a garden or to your soul will reap a bountiful harvest. And the daily tending to your soul through the disciplines of reading the Word and praying are worth it even if it costs blood, sweat and tears. But then again, discipleship always does (Lk 9:23).
Convicting, isn't it? If we're honest, this is something we all struggle with. How easy it is to turn on the ballgame rather than picking up our Bible! How tempting it is to hit the Snooze button one more time rather than getting up to pray and open God's Word! It's true, none of us will ever read our Bible enough, or pray enough, or be diligent enough in pulling up the weeds in our spiritual life. But should we not strive for this nonetheless? Living a life of godliness is work, but we do not work alone, because the Holy Spirit is working in us to strengthen and to sanctify us. This doesn't get us off the hook either, though. We can't sit back, put our feet up and say, "Okay, Holy Spirit, get to work!" Nope, it doesn't work that way. Has God saved you? Then you've been given an awesome, miraculous gift! Don't waste it. Don't spit upon it. Don't ignore it and don't mock it by your laziness. We tend to ourselves, our bodies, our clothes. We tend to our bank accounts and our houses and our cars. Yet all of these will pass away. Ought we not tend, then, to the one thing that will go on forever, our soul?

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