1 Thessalonians 4:3, NIV
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”
A while ago I read something on a friend’s Facebook page that really challenged me, and caused me to examine my own heart. The quote is an excerpt from a prayer written by Cardinal Charles Belmonte: ‘From a desire of being preferred, deliver me Jesus. From a desire of being consulted, deliver me Jesus. From a desire of being approved, deliver me Jesus… That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it… That others may be chosen, and I set aside, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised, and I go unnoticed, grant me the grace to desire it… Grant me the grace to desire it from You.’
While reading this prayer I became aware of the mixed emotions this stirred up inside my heart. It is a very natural desire to be approved, and praised and chosen and loved. In itself there is nothing wrong with it. But I realised that some of my ambivalent emotions regarding what I would be asking God to do when praying this prayer, was because of some of my own insecurities and the areas where I needed to grow. It magnified some attitudes and weaknesses, and even some things that were rooted in past wounds, which demanded attention and a surrendering to the Lord.
The word ‘sanctification’ means to be set apart for special use, and becoming holy unto God. Once we commit our lives to the Lord, we are redeemed from sin and our spirit is born again and made new. However, this is only the beginning of a process of growing to be more like Jesus – the process of sanctification. This is a life-long project that God undertakes with us.
While I was looking at my heart which seemed so full of pride and imperfections, I sensed God’s voice reminding me that I was never meant to tackle this life-long project of sanctification in my own strength. The contrary is true! The journey of sanctification was meant to be an exciting venture of faith-stretching experiences and stepping-out-of-the-boat moments, but also one of valley experiences and flat-on-my-face failures. But never once would I need to walk through any of these seasons alone. He would be working WITH me all the way! God gave me a wonderful promise in His Word:
‘Work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight’ (Philippians 2:12-13).
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You walk with me through every season of my life, and that You are all the while patiently working with me and in me to will and to work for YOUR good pleasure. Thank you that You always see the end result of the ‘construction project’ in my life, and never give up on me. I consecrate my life afresh to You to have Your way in me. Amen.