This morning I have to admit I felt sad as I drove past what used to be a lovely farm in the Lebanon Valley. Instead of rolling fields in winter rest there are gigantic warehouses and busy constructions sites. Dollar signs talk. If a corporation offers a farmer a lot of money, why wouldn’t he take it? The farming life is a lot of work and long hours. And, while I have no idea who the farmer was or his circumstances, I am sure the sum of money offered had something to do with his final decision. That’s just how this life works.
Eric and I have talked about that, on occasion. If a corporation came to offer us a huge sum of money to buy out our company, would we take it? We have determined that we wouldn’t, given that we have a son and two sons-in-law who are helping us carry the company on into the future. However, this question takes on a whole new meaning if you don’t have any children interested in carrying on the family business. By this time of his life, my husband is exhausted. If he didn’t have the boys, he’d probably take the money and enjoy a rest. It is certainly understandable why men (and women) sell their lives’ work to corporations. There is no judgment coming from me.
But I did think about how these little mom and pop businesses and hard-working farmers are changing the world…one by one. One decision doesn’t seem like a big deal but when it happens on a massive scale, it changes everything.
It isn’t much different with righteous living. We think one decision doesn’t mean very much. Does one decision make a difference?
It’s easy to give ourselves a pass for one decision. We are masters at rationalizing. But, perhaps more often than not, these passes and rationalizations and “small but wrong” choices will lead us down an undesired path or put our family on an unpleasant trajectory. We don’t realize it at the time. In fact, many don’t give it a thought at all.
What can keep us evaluating and examining our decisions throughout life? Whether they be a decision to sell our precious farmland to a corporation or to watch an R-rated movie? Whether to buy a new house, take a new job, or go a certain place? Whether it be to sell our beloved company to a bigger business or to allow our daughters to leave the house in immodest clothing? (I feel so bad for the young men in this culture! I cannot honestly believe what parents –even Christian parents–allow their daughters to wear. I find it incredibly disturbing and sad. But that’s a post for another day!)
The only thing that will keep us examining all decisions, big and small, is a principle within.
And what is that principle?
There is only one that brings life-giving power to our decisions and that is to please God. As a redeemed child of God, saved by Christ alone, we should want to please Him with all that is within us.
How tempting it is to want to please ourselves instead. Paul talks about our battle with the flesh throughout the New Testament, but he sums the battle up rather nicely in verses 16 & 17 of Galatians 5–
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
How easy it is for us to make choices based on our own self-interest. Think about what often drives our decisions. Yes, we all notice very obvious things like money or fame. I am sure we could all point to people we know who fell to their lust for these things.
But let us think for a moment about the nitty-gritty of our daily lives. Are you driven by your desire for no conflict? Leading to an unwillingness to speak the truth or to share the Gospel or, for parents–allowing things we know are wrong; Or are you driven by your desire to be right? Leading to arguments and pointless debates over things that don’t matter; Are you driven by your lust for food or possessions? Leading to gluttony or unwarranted spending; Are you driven by wanting to be liked? Leading to reticence when lies are told or joining friends in their worldly entertainment or laughing at a joke that no Christian should be laughing at; Are you driven by selfishness? Leading to being easily and often offended or to spending much precious time filled with anxiety and fear.
These are just a few of our temptations as believers. Sinful attitudes and sins that we battle on a daily basis. We are all different and some of us battle very public things. Others of us keep our battles very hidden. But, no matter who we are, no matter how well-known or not known, no matter how far along in our Christian life…we are all fighting our flesh in some capacity.
However, if we can keep the principle of pleasing God instead of pleasing self as our focus, it will guide us. How do we do this?
There is only ONE way: Through prayer and study of the Word. God has designed it this way and it is the only thing that will give us strength to live a pure and godly life.
Of course, we will mess up. We may even have weeks or months of making wrong choices and developing bad habits. But this principle should always lead us back to a right place before God. This principle should always fill our consciences with a sense that something is not quite right and lead us back into fellowship with our Creator.
We make a million decisions each day. When we face them, we all base our choices on either our principle to please God or to please self. I fear, too often, we don’t even consider it in this way but simply make a decision, without prayer or without deliberation.
As is usually the case, I am speaking to myself as much as I am to you, my reader. I have certainly not arrived. As I’ve mentioned often, I love God’s Word and I love to write. That’s the reason for this blog–to point you to the Word. But I am struggling to live it out right along with you. May we have much grace for one another as we strive to live by a godly principle within.
I WANT A PRINCIPLE WITHIN
I want a principle within
Of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wand’ring of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.
From Thee that I no more may part,
No more Thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshly heart,
The tender conscience, give.
Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.
Almighty God of truth and love,
To me Thy pow’r impart;
The mountain from my soul remove,
The hardness from my heart.
Oh, may the least omission pain
My reawakened soul,
And drive me to that blood again,
Which makes the wounded whole.
Charles Wesley ~ 1749
2 thoughts on “I Want A Principle Within”
What a wonderful post today, as usual! Every word is anointed. You, Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley comprise the pinnacle of achievement in the arena of Godly communication of TRUTH. Truth is hard to find out there but I can always count on you to bring it!🎉🎉
Thank you for your kinds words. I certainly don’t believe myself to be “anointed” but I do so long to be 100% biblical!