My cousin and his wife were attempting to introduce scripture memorization to their young son. As many folks do, they began with Psalm 23. He started out just fine but got a little creative with the second half of the first verse. What came out of his mouth was the following:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want to.”
Me too, kid. Sometimes I shall not want to either.
What’s on your plate right now? What do you NOT want to do?
Stay in a tough job with an insensitive boss?
Forgive an unfaithful husband or wayward child?
Go to Bible study instead of binging on Netflix?
Pay down your credit card debt instead of booking a trip?
Put down your phone?
While God will always direct us to do things that are best for us, sometimes we still don’t want to do them. And we aren’t the first ones to face this dilemma. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Moses didn’t want to lead the children of Israel. The rich young ruler didn’t want to sell his belongings. Peter didn’t want to admit he knew Jesus. And it’s not all just about the big things in life; it’s also about the day to day things that require us to die to ourselves in order to live a life of victory and purpose and overcoming. It’s what we say we want; we just don’t always want to …
It’s one thing to do IT anyway, whatever your IT may be. We are first and foremost called to obey. To do the things God asks of us whether we feel like it or not, whether we can see immediate results or not, whether it’s easy or not. But it’s not just about gritting our teeth and getting it done, like a five-year-old choking down lima beans.
The Holy Spirit can actually make you want to do things you don’t want to do.
Read that again. Slowly. This is revolutionary. It’s a game-changer. Because it’s always better and easier to do things we actually want to do. Romans 12:2 says this: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
What exactly does it mean to “renew our minds?” Sure, we have a part to play. We are to immerse ourselves in God’s word, spend time in prayer, focus our thoughts on the promises of God, and eliminate anything of the world that causes us to stray off course. But there is also the Holy Spirit’s role in this process. Our minds are the “home base” of our thoughts, emotions, purposes, and attitudes. To renew them means to renovate them.
You know what it means to renovate a house? You literally tear out the old and replace it with the new. And the Holy Spirit can surely be entrusted with the task of transforming our minds, causing us to think and feel and act like Jesus instead of like … us. He gets rid of our old attitudes and gives us His attitude toward people and situations and circumstances. It’s paramount to our spiritual growth.
Sometimes parents say to kids, “Stop giving me attitude.” But attitude is fine when it mirrors the attitude of Christ. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
The fruit of the Spirit enables us, by God’s miraculous power, to demonstrate new attitudes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. When we embrace the character of Christ in us, all of those wonderful attributes become ours, and we find ourselves able to do the things we didn’t want to do. And suddenly, it’s like a little miracle happening right inside of us, and we find ourselves wanting what He wants more than what we want.
Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash