This may not apply to everyone, but I realized how true it is of myself and maybe you haven’t given it much thought: so often, the state of my spiritual growth can be measured by how I apologize.
When I am doing well, my mind is set on things above, I pray often and I’m continually reminding myself to crucify the flesh, I apologize more willingly, more often and more sincerely. I’m less hesitant to make myself vulnerable and I allow room for my ego and pride to be punctured.
When I’m not doing well at all, when I really don’t care and I’m not interested in walking in the Spirit, my natural tendency is to be proud, to be defensive, and expect apologies from the other person regardless if I owe one as well.
And then there’s the in-between. I’m clearly not perfect and sometimes my reaction is slow; sometimes I take a little longer to apologize, but I eventually humble myself and do. Sometimes I give in to my flesh and have a bad attitude at first, but I then humble myself and apologize. Sometimes I resist prayer and resist repentance at first, but then I humble myself and pray for strength and forgiveness and the power to change.
Today was one of those days that I acknowledged my wrong and eventually offered an(albeit not very strong) apology. I just took a look at myself and realized how displeasing I was acting in the sight of my Father, kind of how a parent would be disappointed if their young child pouted for not getting their way. Blagh, how much I have to learn! Nevertheless, my repentance was encouraging to me because I realized it was a sign that I was in the right mind and that I’m still striving to keep in step with the Spirit. And I have to say, despite the ultimate heavenly reward of taking up our cross and following Him, there is definitely a reward, a peace and comfort, after denying your flesh and doing good in the sight of the Lord.There is comfort in knowing that you are on the right path and knowing that you’ve just made progress in the right direction.
“Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
So, I want to leave you with some encouraging passages and hopefully a motivation to examine yourself this day and pray to God without ceasing and in sincerity:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. … “- Philippians 2:3-7
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passionsare at war within you?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”- James 4:1-10
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”- Romans 12:1
“And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3-4
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” – Proverbs 26:12
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Don’t be afraid to confess your sins, whether it’s a sinful attitude, selfish desire, a bad heart, corrupt talk: even if someone has wronged you, God will hold us each accountable for our own actions and reactions. Pray fervently, pray often, set your mind on things above, walk in the Spirit, be transformed and love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
“Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37