Over 96 million people in the world have had COV-19 and over 2 million have died. In the US, over 400,000 have died. Fear and anxiety have caused other diseases and each year over 70,000 Americans give up and commit suicide. Many are sick because they are eaten up by bitterness and animosity and hatred of others. Over ten million Americans suffer from emotional and mental illness. The majority of medical and surgical patients have their illness directly as a result of emotional stress. That’s the number one health problem in America.
How do we maintain spiritual stability in this changing and uncertain world?
In Hebrews 2:14,15, we read “Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil who had the power of death. ONLY IN THIS WAY COULD HE SET FREE ALL WHO HAVE LIVED THEIR LIVES AS SLAVES TO THE FEAR OF DYING.
Are you living as a slave to the fear of dying? Only Christ can take that fear away. And after taking that fear away, how can He give you daily joy for living your life free of anxiety?
Recently a young businessman who had quickly accumulated much wealth sat down with me at lunch and asked, “will you pray for me, I am filled with anxiety”? As the ancients say, “man is restless until he finds his rest in God”.
Recently, I read the following analysis of Philippians 4:4 on what it means to rejoice in the Lord always.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” This is directly related to spiritual stability, cultivating an attitude of joy, maintaining a spirit of joy, incessant joy, independent joy in the sense that it doesn’t depend upon circumstances. Please notice “rejoice in the Lord,” not in your circumstances. You can’t always rejoice in your circumstances, but you can always rejoice in the Lord, in your privileged union with Him, that’s the idea. That’s a joy no circumstance can touch.
So to be spiritually stable requires maintaining the habit of constantly expressing joyful wonder when contemplating an eternal, unchanging, enriching relationship with God through the living Lord Jesus Christ. Great truth. As long as I contemplate the Lord and what He’s done for me and is doing for me and has planned to do for me, I find my joy there.
If you’ve studied it long enough, you get the feeling of what this word means. For example, it has the sense of sweet reasonableness, that you are responsive to an appeal, that there’s a gentleness about you when someone asks you something, you’re sweetly reasonable about it. It also could be translated big-heartedness. Not only are you sweetly reasonable but it goes beyond that, you are very generous. It could be translated good will. Since you only wish good or will good on others, you tend to almost bend beyond what would be expected to grant them good.
Some have suggested it could be translated friendliness. That seems a little bit thin when compared to the others. Some have chosen the word “magnanimity,” let your magnanimity be known to all men. In other words, your over-generosity. Some have suggested it means charity toward faults of others. Some have said mercy toward failures of others. Some have said the best word is leniency. Some have said it should be indulgence. Let your indulgence be known to all men, not your personal indulgence in sin but your ability to indulge all of the failures of others and not be personally offended or unkind or bitter, retaliatory, or vengeful. It is a kind of patience which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace, mistreatment without hatred, without malice, without retaliation, without bitterness, without vengeance.
Now, if you add all that up – the best word is graciousness. Graciousness. Let your graciousness be known to all men. Certainly in sweet reasonableness, there is grace. Certainly in big-heartedness, there is grace. Certainly in good will, there is grace. Certainly in forbearing, there is grace. Certainly in friendliness, magnanimity, charity, mercy, leniency, indulgence, you’re demonstrating graciousness, and that word probably in a Christian sense embodies it.
But there’s another element to it. It is the graciousness of humility, which basically says you may have offended me, you may have mistreated me, you may have misjudged me, worse than that you may have misrepresented me, you may have maltreated me, you may have not given me what I deserve, you may have given me what I do not deserve, you may have ruined my reputation with some, you may have acted in hostility against me unjustly, I may be the recipient of your inequity, injustice, and mistreatment, but I humbly and graciously accept it.
That’s what it means, and again, isn’t that exactly what the grace of God is like? You may have hated Me. You may have been My enemies, God could say. You may have shaken your fist in My face. You may have blasphemed Me. You may have mistreated Me, misjudged Me, you may have done all of that, and I still reach out to you in love. Boy, when you have that kind of an attitude, you’re a stable person. Spiritual stability belongs to the humbly gracious. Let your humble graciousness be known to all men.
Spiritual stability comes when I have no demands for myself. Then if I get something, fine. If I don’t, fine. If I’m treated a certain way, fine. If I’m treated this way, fine. Doesn’t really matter to me – I’m not concerned about me. That’s what makes Paul say – and he’s the living illustration as he states, “In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be” – what? – “absolutely content.” Why? Because Paul’s not the issue. I’m not an issue so I can have a forbearing spirit. I can have a gracious, big-hearted, magnanimous, humble, charitable spirit.
That’s stability. You can’t get knocked off your pins. Some people live and die in that revolving door of listening to what everybody says about him and taking in personally every single thing that ever happens in their life and filtering it through their little ego process, and if its wounded them in any way, they’re in immediate instability, anxiety.
They live lives of quiet desperation….a life of comparison which is the enemy of contentment. Social media contributes to this anxiety as we desperately try to find our significance (our satisfaction) in the approval or likes of others.
The answer is in Christ. Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me”
One hundred and thirty two times in the New Testament, Paul talks about being “in Christ”. The Christian lives in Christ as a bird lives in the air, as a fish lives in the water, as roots of a plant live in the soil – so the believer lives in Christ. He is in a union. His whole existence is pervaded by the presence of Jesus Christ. He is in Christ. Christ is the vine, we are the branches. The life comes from the vine and apart from the vine, we can do nothing.
Real living is real loving. And if there is somebody you don’t love, you need to spend some time on your knees and ask God to help you love that person. And then you need to go to that person and ask their forgiveness for not loving them and see if you can build a relationship of love. It is the healthiest thing you will ever do in your life apart from knowing Christ. The love of Christ is yours. Yield to it’s flow in your life.
Practice the presence of Christ in your life by having your mind saturated with His thoughts. The only way to do that is by reading and meditating on the Bible….God’s thoughts are then in your mind. The more His presence is in your mind, the more secure you are.
Happy people are healthy people and happy people know how to really live life.
My sole desire is to become more like Christ every day by allowing Him to live His life of love and service to others through me. II Corin 3:18 “ and the Lord who is the Spirit makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image”