|Posted on March 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM|
"For the Kingdom of God is ... living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17 (NLT)
With each passing year I grow ever more convinced that the life of faith is a life characterized by peace and joy. Sure it's a life of goodness as well, that's practically a no-brainer. Ask anyone what religion or Christianity specifically is about, and you're likely to hear, "Being good." But being good is not the sum total of it. In fact, simply being good—doing what is morally right—absent of a peaceful trust in God and a joyful appreciation of Him can become legalism. And few things upset Jesus more than the legalism of the religious leaders of His day.
Legalism is living a life of rules with little room for the very thing Jesus affords us: grace. It's characterized by self-striving. We can easily overlook the fact that no matter what rules we happen to keep - or fail to keep - God provides His people with grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace and joy. Some may say that if I am experiencing more peace and joy it's because I'm being increasingly good. That it's because I'm being obedient and doing all the right things—praying more, trusting God more, walking in a manner worthy of my calling, and so forth. Well, yes. And, no.
I've come to realize that I have no real right to extra peace or happiness just because I pause to talk with God. I have no entitlement to contentment or joy just because I submit to His commands. I pray and obey simply because God is God, and I am not. He is the creator of my life. He holds the patent. And I'm created for His pleasure. Yet in His gracious, extravagant kindness, He has made it so that when I pray rather than worry, I experience peace. When I gratefully accept what He has given me, and do not wish and whine for more, I find contentment. When I give away what I have, so often I get joy in return. And when I look steadily on Him all these blessings come into view.
Hannah Whitall Smith writes:
"This blessed life must not be looked upon in any sense as an attainment but as an obtainment. We cannot earn it; we cannot climb up to it; we cannot win it; we can do nothing but ask for it and receive it. It is the gift of God in Christ Jesus. And where a thing is a gift, the only course left for the receiver is to take it and thank the giver."
Simply because He is good, peace, contentment and joy are available to us regardless of our position, possessions, performance or circumstances. It's His loving kindness and the empowerment of His Spirit that makes living in the kingdom of God a life of goodness, peace and joy. And that is a blessed life -a gift. It's what life in the Kingdom looks like. Let's share that gift by introducing others to its Source. Thank the Lord for the grace affords you. We so desperately need it, and also need to appreciate it. He has blanketed each one of us in the blessing of His presence and guides us in His perfect will for our lives. Pray that you will walk in goodness, peace and joy today, in Jesus' Name, Amen.