James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
I’m struck by how complicated the life of a believer becomes with the reality of needing to submit [accept or yield], and at the same time resist [withstand the action or effect]. Submission and resistance are not as black and white as they may seem at first glance.
We all know our response to those complications is critical but sometimes the right choice slips by unnoticed in a world of gray. Ask the right questions. Comfort can make submitting to the wrong thing seem easy. Beware! We’ve all experienced the futility of wasting our energy resisting the “right” thing.
The right choice is all about the need to double √√ who you’re submitting to and who you’re resisting. Submit to the need to ask the right questions of the right person! Resist the lie this is a simple choice based on comfort or effort. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Phil 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…
“Whatever happens” and “for the faith of the gospel” are two phrases in this one verse that caught my attention. I’m convinced “attention” is one of the schoolroom tools the Holy Spirit uses to let me know class is in session.
1. How am I doing in my life with “whatever happens?”
Remember this story from Matthew 21 about the two sons? “What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went.” That plan of rebell, resist and repent is familiar to me. It’s my schedule, my effort and my decision. NOT! It’s a personality of rights issue of faith. After all these years and a lot of tutoring that mindset still competes with the gospel of Christ. So I have to ask…
2. What does “the faith of the gospel of Christ” mean?
Paul could have said “striving together as one for the faith IN the gospel.” That seems easier somehow, like investing in the gospel outside myself. I believe in investing in that gospel but Paul uses a different preposition, “of” that makes it far more personal. The truth is my faith from God came with his core package to get me started, the “faith OF the gospel.” That core of faith is my best hope my answer to question one can be changed.