But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
In order to love, and as a result of love, we need to foster a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith. That means living an intentional, authentic life of pursuit. It takes effort, which we often set aside, because it’s easier to respond in a way that’s more about what’s comfortable instead of what’s commanded.
That might not be our intention, but we can rationalize a lot, even what we say is and isn’t intended by God’s Word. If we want to support just about any point or perspective with Scripture, we can isolate a verse or two and do so. We can stay in our comfort zones and feel good doing so because “God says so.” But does He, really?
Do you really know what He’s commanding of you today? Not what He’s commanding of someone else. We can all spout off dozens of verses that condemn someone else, but what about you? How does He want you to move today? It could seem like a very small change or an enormous change, but when guided by God, we can be certain that all change is significant and essential for our spiritual growth.
We can’t always “figure out” Scripture. We’ve tried to comprehensively search it, pulling together all the possibilities and coming to a succinct conclusion. God reveals himself through Scripture. We seek; He provides. But He’s not a gumball machine. We don’t put in a certain amount of time, the right question, or an impatient demand and get a magical response just the way we want it. Sometimes we need to wrestle through something as part of the process. Sometimes we need to actively pursue and be patient as part of the process. God will never let us down or leave us. Yet we give up and move on to something or someone else.
Here are a few reminders of how to seek and know God’s Word.
Preparation. God plants and tends seeds we’ll need later. We might not know how we’re going to apply a lesson or even if we’re going to apply a lesson. One lesson builds on another in imperceptible ways until they collide with an experience. We might not recall all the details of the lessons, but we have a moment of recollection, as if we’ve been here before. God leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, and we know He has been purposefully walking alongside us on the path leading to where we are.
Conviction. God provides the truth we need at the moment we need it. Sometimes it feels like a cold cup of water thrown in our faces, like a wake-up call to jolt us from a spiritual slumber. Other times, it feels like a gentle nudge or an “atta-girl” encouragement. Either way, God lines up His truth with our perspective and reveals the difference and similarity. He superimposes His reality onto us, and challenges us to yield everything of ourselves into His presence. He has a better vantage point and shares a glimpse with us.
Correction. God reveals the truthfulness of past situations. He connects the fruit of our lives to our growth process, including how we responded to His instruction along the way. We might not have given much consideration when we ignored a gentle prodding or bold teaching, but when He draws the connections along the process, we learn about God’s desires and provision, as well as our obedience. Correction applies to the lessons of when we responded well, too. We often learn lessons more about God’s mercy and grace than any effort we could ever extend. When we trust God to shed His light on our pasts, we can believe what He sees in the past over what we’ve concluded on our own.
Dear God, I love Your Word. Thank You for knowing and guiding the plan and purpose for my life. I can get so caught up in my own goals, even when I think they’re consistent with Yours, that I lose sight and focus on You. Challenge me, and show me where I’m getting off track. I want my steps to follow Yours and only Yours. I trust You to guide me.