Is your life under control? Or do you feel as if all your plans are falling apart, running amuk, or even disintegrating before your very eyes?
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
In order to answer this question, we first need to determine who is in charge of your life–you or God? I do not mean who is actually living your life, because, of course, you are. You are the one who wakes up in the morning and the one who goes to bed at night. And you are the one who makes countless decisions every day, from how to spend your time to what you will do with your money. As people of God, He expects us to do what needs to be done; there are many verses that speak to this. Proverbs 27:23-24, for example, tells us, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds [attend to the business God has given you]; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” The question is rather, as you are living your life—as you are doing these many things—whom are you honoring, whom are you living for?
This isn’t an issue we give much thought to, because looking out for our own interests comes as naturally to us as living itself. We do what benefits us and what makes us happy. Yet when we come to Christ, He helps us see things as they really are, and teaches us a different way.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 is a prophecy for the nation of Israel, but it describes well what happens in our hearts when we the Holy Spirit indwells us: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, say the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” One of the best ways to recognize if you have been born again is whether you see things—what is good and what is evil—the way God sees them.
In addition to helping us tell right from wrong and to love the right, God teaches us to think about others. He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39b) He tells us,“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Understandably, this goes against our natural tendencies because we intuitively understand that human nature is selfish and feel that if we don’t look out for our own interest, who will?
The answer to who will look out for our interests if we no longer selfishly pursue them, is that God will. Scripture is full of promises to those who fear God and live His way. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles [those who do not know the true God] seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things. But seek first the kingdom of God [outward focus, that others would come to know God] and His righteousness [inward focus, that my life would reflect His righteousness], and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
As Christians, we seriously underestimate God and His involvement in our lives, as well as His power to act on our behalf. And I believe the reason we don’t trust God more is because we tend to be schizophrenic in our understanding of Scripture. We pick and choose certain verses and forget the others. This is very dangerous. Matthew 6:33, for example, doesn’t promise that 1) God will provide everything I want, or that 2) God will provide my needs regardless of who I am or how I live. Nowhere does God promise to provide everything I want, He just promises to provide what I truly need. And God will provide my needs, but only if I am focused on becoming as He is (His righteousness) and His kingdom (that others be saved).
Yet once we begin to read Scripture carefully and adjust our lives so that we are preoccupied with the things He wants us to be, what He can do in us, for us, and through us, is amazing. Today’s verse tells us that “He is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think” and that He does it “according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 1:19-20a says, “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…” And Romans 8:10-11 further promises, “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin [we’re all dying], but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
So when we look at our lives, and things don’t seem to be working out exactly as we planned them, we must recognize that God is sovereign, that He loves us, and that He is “working all things…together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) There is an “exceeding greatness of His power” at work in our lives now—the same power that will also raise us from the dead, just as He raised Christ. And if we are really His–if we really love Him–He is working out everything for good in our lives!
Help us be preoccupied with what is important to You. Help us not fret over our plans, if they seem to not be going as we had envisioned, but help us to see Your hand at work in our lives. May You be glorified in everything! Amen.