TO CHEW ON: “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing … As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy; you be holy.’” 1 Peter 13-16 MSG
I see two actions in this Message rendering of these verses from 1 Peter:
1. Slipping back into “old grooves of evil.”
The images that come to mind are a record player needle bobbing along in the groove of a record or car wheels caught in hardened mud or snow ruts. It’s an object caught and following the path of least resistance.
What are some of those “grooves of evil” we might be caught in?
- Wayward, undisciplined thoughts that take us to bad places.
- Rote actions (habits) that we need to break.
- Giving in to triggers that cause us to become irritated or angry (e.g. people consistently late, inconsiderate drivers).
2. Being “pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life.”
The image I see here is an object (satellite, moon, asteroid) attracted and pulled toward a star or planet by gravity. How can we cooperate with the pull of God’s gravity?
- Arresting those negative thoughts and changing their direction.
- Substituting bad habits with good. (E.g. instead of checking email or text messages first thing in the morning, check in with God’s word and prayer. My confession: When I do the former first, my whole morning can get derailed by silly little details that suddenly feel way more important than they are.)
- Intentionally living with a grateful outlook.
- Cultivating a “yes” attitude toward God (obedience).
An excellent book on holiness is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. Here is a quote from that book that I was reminded of by today’s 1 Peter reading:
“… we have misunderstood ‘living by faith’ (Galatians 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part. In fact, sometimes we have even suggested that any effort on our part is ‘of the flesh’ … But then the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘And you can put away the sinful habits that plague you if you will accept your personal responsibility for them. Acknowledging that I did have this responsibility turned out to be a milestone for me in my pursuit of holiness” - Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Kindle Location 101, 109 (emphasis added).PRAYER: Dear Father, please help me to be realistic and honest about those old “grooves of evil” I’m still caught in. May I, more and more, respond to Your Spirit’s gravitational pull toward You and a life of obedience to Your revealed will in attitude and action. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.