I have recently started manning the front desk of CLDI in the mornings. In the office bathroom hangs a little plaque that quotes 2 Thessalonians 3:13: “As for you brothers, never tire of doing what is right.” Reading this scripture day after day, I have been meditating on this statement for a while now.
At first, this particular piece of Pauline advice seemed a little overeager. How can someone never tire, of doing anything? Let alone something so against our nature as consistently doing right? He might as well tell us to never tire of holding our arms above our heads. That is not our natural posture; gravity does not allow for us to restin that position; it is always an effort.
In the same way, doing right is not a natural posture for us. The gravity of our sinful nature weighs us down so that to “rest” in this world is to take a break from our efforts, our striving, our Christian pursuits of worshiping, serving, of doing good and doing right. Perhaps even to take a break from resisting sin. Essentially, to be in our resting state as human beings is to be in sin. Bold I know…but I invite you to ponder this with me.
If we are living in our sinful nature, where our “never-tiring” state is sin, how could we possibly never tire of doing right? I believe God’s answer to this question would be, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). In Romans chapter 8, Paul writes:
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.”
Thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross, we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature as long as the Spirit of God lives in us. And when the Spirit of God is in us, we become new creations. We have a completely different nature, a different natural posture to stand in, a different gravity, and a different rest. Contrary to the rest of the world, we rest in doing right. The automatic inclination of our hearts is to do right and it is, in fact, doing right that refuels and refreshes us so that we are constantly filled and energized to do our work and live our lives in righteousness.
So this revelation has spurred a new pursuit in me. The pursuit of living in the Spirit. This sounds like a cliché Christianese statement, but it is not that for me anymore. It is not something I skim over and accept about myself willy-nilly. It is not a worship lyric I sing absentmindedly. And it is not something I do in my own strength. It is the pursuit of surrendering my own efforts and letting God’s Spirit fill up the gaps of my inadequacy. It is letting God make me a new creation – not better by degree but different in kind. I want to be as amazed at God’s impossible work in me as the rest of the watching world.
I will live like Paul when he said; “I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest in men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” I will live life with my arms raised up to the Father, never tiring, defying gravity because I no longer live under the laws of this world but by the law of the Spirit of life, which sustains me and allows me, also, to never tire of doing what is right.
Harper Swords, Fellowship House Intern