Do you ever wonder why you do the things you do?
I’ve discovered that there are three kinds of people in regards to this question. 1) Those who act without thinking of the consequences. 2) Those who contemplate the consequences of their actions before they act. 3) Those who contemplate the consequences of their actions after they act.
What category to you fall in? If you are anything like me, you find yourself contemplating the consequences of your behavior after you act. This is not a wise place to be, but sadly many of us who are Christ followers fall into this category. We have everything we need for a godly life according to 2 Peter 1:3, given to us by God’s divine power. This gift is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All of God’s children in Christ Jesus have this, but more often than not, we act as if we are ill-equipped to handle all that this world throws at us.
This is made evident to me every time I swim laps at my local YMCA. I’m the type of person that checks the schedule so that I have the greatest chance of having a lane to myself. Not sharing a lane with another swimmer is ok if you are a professional training for the next big meet, but I’m just an amateur swimmer who loves the feeling of accomplishment when I meet my own personal goals in the water.
As soon as I enter the pool area I scope out just how many swimmers are in each lane. Some days I am silently reveling in the fact that I will have my own lane, then other days I resign to the fact that this is a day for sharing. And I’m not a happy swimmer! (Lord help me!) Then there are days that I’m knocked off the “mine only lane” throne and have to let someone share with me. You would think that being a daughter of the King would make me actually want to share a lane or even wave those coming into the pool over to my lane, but I am fighting this inner battle every time I put on my swimsuit, cap and goggles. Why am I so selfish?!
Fifteen years ago, I participated in a study of the fruit of the Spirit. I learned a lot about myself and it was not pretty. Sadly, the lessons I learned about “why I do what I do” have to be revisited every so often. You see, every day there is a battle within me between my natural self and the Spirit of the living God that dwells within me. Like the apostle Paul, “I really don’t understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Oh, what a miserable person I am!” (Romans 7:15,24) This is exactly my sentiments once the Lord convicts me of my self serving ways in the swimming pool.
Just yesterday, for the first half of my swimming time I had to share with a male swimmer, who by nature of their size, usually take up more space. Then I was thanking God when this swimmer left because he graced me with my own lane for the second half, so I thought. Another male swimmer walked over and just stood there. God told me to ask him if he wanted to share the lane with me. You know what? I did it, but I was not smiling on the inside. I really am a sad case! The man proceeded to tell me he wanted the side of the lane away from the wall. This was really too much to ask Lord! For all non-swimmers, the lane closest to the wall of the pool has a protruding ladder at each end which makes flip turns difficult for me. If you are a swimmer, this may not be a problem for you, but God was obviously testing me. The entire time this man stayed in the pool (which was only about 10 minutes), I was berating myself about how ungodly and self-centered I am. Then the Lord reminded me that when I surrender to his Spirit, this egotistical me will disappear.
That’s what I learned those many years ago in that Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit, so I wrote the following poem that is still true today.
The Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is what God gave to me the day I accepted His grace.
Without His miraculous indwelling, my heart would be an empty place.
This fruit is not a natural thing that I can create on my own.
It’s a supernatural ability to make Christ’s personality known.
The natural versus the supernatural; exactly what will I be?
Close communion with the Sovereign Lord is the answer key.
Naturally, I would show contempt for those who aren’t like me.
But, Spiritually, He gives me love so Christ is who they’ll see.
Naturally, I would wonder “Why?” when troubles come around.
But, Spiritually, the joy of my salvation keeps me on solid ground.
Naturally, I would worry and fuss when my world begins to rock.
But, Spiritually, He gives me peace that even Satan cannot mock.
Naturally, I’m intolerant of those who aggravate.
But, Spiritually, He gives me patience to help me tolerate.
Naturally, I look around and think “Why should I care?”
But, Spiritually, He tenders my heart with a kindness that seems so rare.
Naturally, I’m selfish and looking out for number one.
But, Spiritually, He gives me a goodness that’s beneficial to everyone.
Naturally, I’d doubt God and selfishly do what I please.
But, Spiritually, He gives me a faithfulness to act on what I believe.
Naturally, I would be large and in charge pushing people to do their part.
But, Spiritually, He gives me gentleness that touches others’ hearts.
Naturally, I would act in a way that would fill my Lord with pain.
But, Spiritually, He gives me the self-control to exercise restraint.
Naturally, my life would be in shamble; a terrible, miserable mess.
But, Spiritually, I walk with Him, surrendering all for His best.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
It would appear that I need to pray for that goodness to come out so others can benefit and also that I act in a manner that proves what I truly believe. It is true that without Christ, I am a wretched person just like Paul was, but Paul didn’t stop there. He knew that it was Jesus Christ that would rescue him from this battle once and for all. So, the next time you are wondering why you do what you do, remember that God has given us all His wonderful attributes through His Spirit to live a godly life, even when doing something as simple as sharing a lap swimming lane at the pool!