Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG*
These are good verses to take into the new year, and to memorize for perspective.
Whether we’re suffering or simply living amid the day-to-day opportunities for self-indulgence, may we be alert to notice the choices. And may we choose growth.
“That old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way” – Peter says it plainly, and it’s deeply ingrained in each of us. Especially in a North American culture that assumes it’s our right to have what we want.
“Free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want” – and the better we know God, the more sure we can be that what He wants is better and more healthy than what we want, as well as it being for our ultimate good.
Perhaps the key is in the first part of this passage: learning to think like Jesus. Renewing our minds, as Paul says in Romans 12. And diligently cooperating in the “weaning” from self-focus.
The Christian life is a process. We’re not just saved and instantly complete. We need to mature. The New Testament letters emphasize growth and our responsibility to grow.
Peter gives an example later in his letters: in 2 Peter 1:5-9 he challenges believers to build their faith daily. I’ve heard it explained as “God saved us, He is saving us, and He will save us.” There’s a lot of work to do, and we have to do our part in it. God won’t force us to change.
Holy and gracious God, thank You for rescuing us from the penalty of sin and for rescuing us from ourselves. We could never earn Your grace, and You give it freely. Help us to be diligent in working with you to break the sinful habits that linger in our lives, so we can grow in spiritual maturity and in intimacy with You.
This week’s song by the Newsboys asks what if we decided to live like “My Friend Jesus.”
*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
For more on the challenge to live with the mindset of Christ, read “God’s Word for 2015” at Practical Faith. And for encouragement that yes, we can make these changes, read Ann Voskamp’s Google+ post.