Have you ever met someone who claimed to be a Christian, but you found it very hard to believe that because of the way they spoke or behaved?
Or maybe someone has thought that about you?
I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at one time or another. There have been several times where I’ve lost my cool, and if I could look back, my behavior would probably cause me to hang my head in shame. Whether it was road rage with a few choice words slipping out of my mouth, getting upset with a customer service agent on the phone (probably the cable company), or losing my temper with my family, none of that behavior was very Christ-like.
Our actions are either going to be influenced by two things – our flesh or God’s Spirit. That means we are either going to do what we want based upon our natural desires or our spiritual sensing. Our choices are going to be made by how we feel or they’re going to be made by what we know is right to do despite how we feel.
Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit that which is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:16-17 NIV
Sounds like an easy decision, right? Not quite, since our feelings heavily influence the choices we make. Sometimes our feelings can be so strong, that it can be hard to fight against the inner struggle to do or say what we know we shouldn’t. But if we are truly Christians, and have surrendered our lives to Christ, then we are instructed to live by the Spirit. Living by the Spirit is going to be evident in our actions, words, and choices.
I have a friend who is the nicest person ever. She is always sweet and kind to whoever she meets, When the girls were much younger, she came over to the house to bake cookies with them. I remember one of the girls spilling flour all over the place, and my initial response was to immediately fuss at them for being so clumsy. However, my friend just responded in her sweet, soft voice like it wasn’t a big deal. I remember watching them in shock because I would have never responded like that back then.
Why did my friend behave in a completely opposite way that I did? There are various reasons – our behavior can be a result of the way we’ve been raised, and we may be exhibiting learned behavior we’ve experienced or watched from other people.
Other times our conduct can be due to the temperament or personality we were born with. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular personality test that is commonly used in the business world to determine a preferred working environment based on natural tendencies.
If you’ve never heard of it, I’d encourage you to look into it, you may learn a lot about yourself. After answering a number of questions, it will produce an assessment of your dominant personality type, which can provide insight into your professional and personal life.
I’m an ISTJ, which means my personality tends to be internally directed (I), that I trust tangible and concrete information (N), and my judgments (J) are made from my perceived thinking and logic (T).
I used to be hardcore in my personality type, and I chalked it up to, “I am who I am”. The strengths of my personality worked well in Corporate America, but at home? Not so much. The honest and direct approach I took at work needed some modifications at home. Just because it was the truth, didn’t mean I had to say it. My strong will and determination had me running a pretty tight ship where my family often felt suffocated. The way I valued order stifled the creativity of my daughter. And the weakness associated with this personality type? Fuhgeddaboudit! A stubborn, insensitive, judgmental perfectionist is not an easy person to live with.
And all the while, I allowed myself to be led by those strong tendencies. Until one day I had enough. I was not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me, and it was causing pain to people around me. And I decided to completely surrender my personality to God.
It’s been a couple of years, and I’m still a work in progress. But as I’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to work in me, there has been an evident change. Even as I reviewed the assessment, I’m no longer extreme to those traits, which means the personality that defined me for much of my life no longer does. I can confidently say it is nothing but the work of the Holy Spirit.
If we are serious about changing, once we release our opinions, our desires, our tendencies, our habits, and our behavior to the Holy Spirit, we allow Him to transform our lives.
Every morning when we wake up, we must choose who we will allow to lead us – either our feelings (flesh) or God (Spirit). What will you choose today?
Are there certain personality characteristics or behaviors that you wish you could change? If you have been unsuccessful at managing and controlling your actions and/or your mouth, decide to walk in the ways of God’s Spirit and to turn away from your old habits and choices.
PRAY WITH ME
God, You know who I am, you know what my tendencies are, and you know what I struggle with. I want to live a life that is pleasing to you, that goes after your spirit, but my learned behavior and personality make it very difficult sometimes. I want my life to be pleasing to you, please help me walk in your Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen.
As I was listening to Spotify while I was writing this, the song Free by Kierra Sheard came on. As I listened to the words about freedom of sinful activities, a feeling of thankfulness swept over me and was so overwhelming that I had to stop writing. It was like a confirmation of what I had just been writing, and I thanked God for freeing me so many behaviors that seemed to have power over me for so long.
Once the song went off, I tried to return to my writing, but then Identify by Fiya came on. This is a powerful song asking God to change the part of our identity that’s not like Him so that people see Him when they see us. It was like God was acknowledging my heart for Him. Now there is still work to be done inside of me, but seeing the transformation that has already taken place is more than enough encouragement to keep working hard to deny my flesh and allowing God to change me.
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
Follow Destined 4 the Dub for Encouragement, Inspiration, and Motivation as you walk through the tough times in life. You ARE Destined to win and get the Dub!