How do we let Jesus transform us so deeply that our outward life more truly reveals His reality to the watching world? How do we truly live from the inside out?
Colossians 1:11 in The Message recently gave me some insight. It says, “We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy.”
Grim strength: what happens when we live from the outside in, working really hard to make ourselves like Jesus.
Glory strength: the transforming power of Jesus living through me.
I asked myself three questions, and I’d love to share some of my reflections with you:
- Where am I relying on my own strength and insights (and thus failing to receive His)?
Anytime I’m trying to “figure things out” solely with my intellect, and not seeking God’s perspective, I am being self-reliant. Responding to circumstances from my unexamined emotions without listening to the Spirit’s guidance is being wise in my own eyes. Whenever I react in ways that protect, pamper, or promote myself, I am seeking to meet my own needs and not allowing my Lord to do so.
- How do I tap into the glory strength that God so longs to give me?
I receive His strength proactively when I take time to sit quietly (physically and spiritually) in the Lord’s presence before the demands of the day begin, when I listen to His Word, and when I daily take time to write all the things I am grateful for. But I can also receive His strength reactively. When I find myself overwhelmed, I can take a few deep breaths and offer up to Him the things that are causing me stress. When I realize I’m talking too much, I can be silent and ask the Spirit to tell me what He wants me to say (or not say).
- Where am I experiencing (or have I experienced) overflowing joy?
- I experience overflowing joy when I choose to live with an awareness of God’s presence with me, gratefully receiving from Him the gifts of the present moment, whether enjoyable or difficult. Being with Jesus is what gives joy, not necessarily having circumstances turn out the way I prefer. I can only know such joy to the degree that I rely on Him and receive His strength.
Where do you need God’s glory strength today?
(Originally published in NavWeekly, 2021-05)