So here goes...
I recently realized something very sad but very important: I have been desiring marriage for the wrong reasons. And I didn't even recognize it.
I have wanted it for myself, for my own glory, particularly to prove that I'm worth something…
If I'm honest, this desire to establish my own worthiness has permeated all aspects of my life. So then, the underlying question behind everything I've done and every interaction I've had with others has been, "Does this add to or take away from my value as a person?" If the interaction left me feeling affirmed, then I would feel great, but if not, then I would be devastated, in need of another way to prove my worth.
The results: I have often used people for my own gain, rather than loving them for God's glory.
And as if that's not bad enough, that's simply the indication of a deeper spiritual problem. When I need people to make me feel like I am valuable, it is clear that I have forsaken the gospel. The gospel tells me that there is nothing I can do that will ever prove that I am good enough; that's why God had to send Jesus as my substitute. But my heart tells me that someway, somehow I can be good enough, and that if I am successful, I will earn the love and affirmation of those around me. So instead of living in the freedom of the gospel, I offer myself back into slavery to sin as I endlessly try to earn my own right standing in the eyes of people - my favorite idol.
Clearly, my heart has been such a good liar, that I often submit to it, without question.
But I don't want to listen to it anymore.
As the Lord has been good to shine His Word of truth into the darkness of my deceptive heart, I am beginning to see my sin even more clearly. At first, that's even more devastating than when others don't affirm me the way that I'd like. But as I admit to the full ugliness of my sin and receive the forgiveness that can only be found in Jesus, I find that my life doesn't have to be dominated by that sin anymore. I can actually change.
Now what spurred this all on, you ask?
The Lord. He is relentless. He is so good and so loving that He is not willing to just give me the things that I want - like marriage - if it will feed my slavery. Instead, he wants to smash my idol and give me a whole new framework for thinking about life. He wants to make me into a whole new person. He wants to make me like Him - holy.
And holiness is a beautiful thing. It's actually the very purpose for which God created us. He made us in His image so that we could be like Him and reflect His glory to the world. And as He opposes the sin in our hearts to make us holy, He actually lets us participate in His divine nature! (2 Peter 1:4).
And since His Spirit lives in us, as He makes us holy, He is actually doing the work of the resurrection in our lives. "But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:10-11). These are powerful verses that we should not just easily dismiss! They are saying that if you're a Christian, God is at work in you, right now, through His Spirit, to bring all the dead things in you back to life! And that is no small thing! No one else can do that! Our God, is a God who does the impossible! He takes dead things and brings them to life! I'm just not sure what could be more exciting than that!
So whatever is currently happening in my life, it is given by God's sovereign hand to make me more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). And becoming like Jesus is not just a nice thing. That's the very reason I'm alive - to reflect God's glory. And I can do that more and more as He continues to transform me into His image - the image of His Son. That was so important to God that Jesus had to die to accomplish it. And if Jesus had to die to make it happen, it must be a big deal.
You see, Jesus didn't just die to make sure that I could go to heaven at the end of my life. He died and was resurrected to change the way I live now. On my own, the way I choose to live only brings me death. Without God's Spirit in me, I will only choose sin. And sin leads to death. But as God's Spirit is at work to change me, I become obedient from the heart, which leads to holiness - to life.
The problem happens when I believe, contrary to what God's Word says, that I know better than God does, where real life can be found for myself at any given moment. This does not and cannot lead anywhere good. It rejects the very purpose for which I was created - to be in relationship with God, to keep His commands, and live for His glory. It makes no sense. It's like saying that my laptop makes a better paperweight than a computer. My laptop has a capacity for so much more than being just a paperweight. And the same is true with us.
When I pursue idols by feeding my desire for marriage for my own selfish gain, I am acting as a paperweight. But when I pursue holiness by seeking to fight my sinful temptation to use my relationships for my own glory and choose to love others sacrificially for God's glory, instead, I act like a laptop that is being used to create movies, music, and so much more! I am living for my purpose! And that's the beauty of holiness. It allows me to live as God intended - to do what He created me to do!
So the work of the resurrection in my life is always better than any other gift God could give me - even the gift of a husband. That's why the Holy Spirit is truly the best gift God can give us (Luke 11:13). So then it doesn't make sense to look for in these other gifts what only God Himself can give. These others gifts then, like marriage, are only beneficial to the extent that they feed the work of the resurrection in our lives.
But since I'm single right now, that means that God, in His sovereignty, has determined that, at the moment, singleness is the best way for me to become holy. And if holiness is the best possible thing for me, then truly God is being extremely good to give me this gift. And if He has it planned sometime down the line that marriage is the best way for me to become holy, then He'll give that gift in His timing. Either way, knowing Him and becoming holy like Him is still the best thing He could give! Why would I want less than the best?
The gift of knowing God and becoming like Him is truly the best gift of all, and that's why
Loving Him is Red!
How has God been teaching you about the beauty of holiness?