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At our March 2017 care group meeting, our discussion turned toward the topic of spiritual disciplines. By definitions, “spiritual disciplines” are generally those things that should be habitual to the Christian walk: reading the Bible, prayer, gathering with God’s people. I was able to honestly share my struggles about duty versus desire in regard to spiritual disciplines. (I know I should want to practice the spiritual disciplines, but I don’t have that desire. So I don’t, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite or legalist.)
I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be able to tell fellow believers that you don’t regularly read the Bible (and why) and have them meet you with love and grace rather than the-worst-Christian-ever.
One of my friends said this about how her view of reading God’s Word had to change:
Her point in context was not to come to the Word with a spirit of selfishness (“SERVE ME!”), but rather to approach the Lord with open hands and view His Word as a gift that He is lavishing upon me. Like someone serving me from a buffet or feast, He is there to serve me with nourishment and sustenance, to provide my every need.
This is in contrast to approaching the Bible out of duty, checking the “good little Christian” spiritual disciplines boxes or else God won’t be happy with me.
A few months later, our church began a Sunday school class based on the book, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines. I went ahead and purchased the book in Audible format. In the midst of my busy summer, one afternoon I laid in bed and listened to the introduction and first chapter in preparation for our Sunday school class.
Honest truth: I never read nor listened to the rest of the book.
But, there was one thing within that first chapter that really made a strong connection in my head:
This concept helps to bridge the gap between duty and desire – between my responsibility to the spiritual disciplines as God’s child and His grace:
I don’t have to strive and grind and just grin and bear it regardless of my desire. But I still have to turn the water on. Sitting down with my Bible, praying, or walking into church isn’t about checking a box or doing a duty; rather, it is the opening of a floodgate. It is coming to my sink with an empty cup and simply turning on the water.
It’s up to God to do the rest.
This imagery has proved to be a real turning point for me at the very least in how I view the spiritual disciplines. As this series continues, I hope to build upon this concept (as well as that of “living in the outflow”).
This post is the latest in a blog series entitled Grace: How a Recovering Legalist Moves Forward in Faith. Please check out the series landing page to read prior posts and click here to subscribe and receive all future posts by email.