speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s always, always, always about results. You can plant a flower garden, but if there aren’t great blooms, it’s a waste of time. If you plant a large vegetable garden and you don’t get lots of produce, you just threw away a lot of time, hard work, and money.
I remember the first time I want to my dad to ask his forgiveness. I said just the right words, with a sincere and broken heart. I finished with “will you forgive me?” I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, he broke the silence with “Well, I want to see it in your actions and attitudes.”
At first, I was crushed. He was the very first person I ever went back to ask forgiveness from. It took a lot of courage for me to do this. Didn’t he realize how hard he was to live with?
But then, I began to understand. I realized that he had endured an ungrateful, rebellious son for a lot of years. It’s one thing to say the words, asking forgiveness. It’s another thing to mean it. And it’s a third thing to actually follow-through and change. It’s all for nothing if my words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes towards him didn’t change.
Yes, results are everything. Even Jesus says the same thing through his words and actions. In the parable of the fig tree, he says that the tree is to be cut down if it doesn’t produce fruit. When he walks up to a fig tree and sees that it has no fruit, he curses it. Overnight it shrivels up and dies.
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
When God truly invades a life, there are always changes. Some might be immediate. Some might take a long time. But there are changes.
Why? Because God only comes into a life when he’s invited. And part of that invitation is admitting that we can’t make it on our own. We can’t change on our own. When we ask Jesus into our life, we’re stepping down from running our own life and letting him take the throne of all that we are. That’s how he becomes our God. Our Lord. Our master.
And part of the results of being constantly filled with God’s Holy Spirit to overflowing is expression.
Outward. Speaking, singing, and giving thanks will result from overflowing with God’s Holy Spirit. You don’t have to be a great singer, or even a gifted speaker in order to show these results. After coming to Christ, I remember singing Amazing Grace while I cut the lawn. But there were two problems. First, since the lawnmower was loud, I tried to sing loud enough so I could hear myself over the roar of the motor. The second problem was that I’m a terrible singer and people complained.
Inward. These results come from “the Spirit” who’s living inside. And while there are outward results, the inward results come “from your heart.” There are inward, hidden results from God’s Spirit living in us, bubbling over, spilling over into all the inward areas of our life. After coming to Christ, my vocabulary radically shifted. Gone were all the swearing and cursing. I didn’t try to clean up my language, God just did it.
Yes, there are immediate changes when you come to Christ. But there are also changes that take time. Some take years. Some take decades. Some won’t happen till we see Jesus’ face to face.
If you’re like me, you want everything faster and easier. Faster change with less effort. We want God to snap his fingers and poof, there it is. But not all change happens that way. Some change takes time. And then there are those things that you just don’t want to talk about. Parts of your life that you’d rather leave alone.
But the key to all of this is not to give thanks. But to give thanks for everything. I can’t think of a harder thing to ask. Giving thanks no matter what. No matter the diagnosis. No matter the loss. No matter the inconvenience. No matter the pain. No matter the suffering.
Giving thanks in every circumstance is God’s will for your life. Nowhere does anybody say it will be easy. No one says it will come naturally. It’s a command and the only response to our loving heavenly Father should be, “Yes sir” and then to give thanks.
Now, that’s a result.
Where have results in your walk with Jesus come easily? Come with difficulty?
Why does “cut down and thrown into the fire” sound cruel to us?
How is always giving thanks a challenge to you?