Deciding to follow Christ–from that first time until now, it is a conscious, determined decision. Emotions are fickle.
1 Listen, pay attention…4 Take hold of my words, keep my commands…5 Get wisdom, get understanding, do not forget or turn away…6 do not forsake, love her [wisdom]…7 get wisdom, get understanding…8 cherish her, embrace her…13 hold on, guard it well…15avoid the evil path…20 turn your ear…21 do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart…23 guard your heart…24 keep your mouth from corrupt talk…25 look straight ahead, fix your gaze…26 give careful thought, be steadfast…27 do not turn, keep your foot from evil.
Did you notice how many decisions are made in this chapter? 31 (2 are repeated). Yes, we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we feel relief and gratefulness when we come to Him, we receive His love, joy and peace, hope and grace–many times, with tears and shouts of thanksgiving! But, we should never equate tears and emotions with salvation. True salvation is that conscious, determined decision to follow Christ, to open our lives to His Lordship and leadership. It is a transaction, much like a marriage.
When I married Robin, we had a beautiful ceremony in Ardmore, Oklahoma, with many friends and relatives attending. It was a joyous occasion. But, it wasn’t until Dr. Hopper, Robin and I filled out and signed the marriage license that we were officially married according to the state of Oklahoma. The same is true with Jesus. He stands at the threshold of our hearts waiting for us to give Him the deed to our house and the key to every room. It doesn’t matter how happy we are that we “threw open the door for Him.” It only matters if He steps inside, because once He does, it means that He has taken possession of our “house” and everything in it. The rest is just a matter of settling in.
When it comes to sanctification (becoming like Jesus daily), it means that every day we renew the marriage license. It doesn’t go bad or lose its power; it is a reminder of Whose we are and Who calls the shots. We must remember that, “we are crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. This life we live in the body we live by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.” Galatians 2:20. The next verse tells us why, “We do not set aside the grace of God, because if righteousness could be obtained by the law, then Christ died for nothing.” In other words, if we could be saved by good works, following the law, or by any other means, then Christ didn’t have to die on the cross for our sins. But, as He said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:39, 42
Let’s determine in our hearts and in our minds to be like Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to change us and make us into His image. There are parts of us that will resist, but we will be tenacious and strong-willed in the right sense. We die to ourselves and live for Christ.
Abba, may today be one of complete and total submission to You and Your Spirit. May we look at the life of Christ and emulate Him. May You build in us His characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we speak truth and life to those around us. Help us to be all that we can be in You, Jesus. Amen.