…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 NKJV
Just put this bit of scripture in reverse. To make it personal, it just has to be “not Christ but I” driving the boat.
There’s No Need to Make It Personal
There is no valid excuse in existence for diving back into my own grave to resurrect my putrid corpse. I will never be driven by great need to abandon the Holy Spirit’s leading and take the reins. I can try to justify myself in my disobedience and selfishness (and I’m no stranger to this quixotic quest) but I cannot do so successfully as long as I love the truth. When I shrug off the new in favor of my old dung-covered rags, I’m on the enemy’s ground.
If someone mocks me and I respond with equal or greater mockery and earn their enmity, it’s not Christ that they’re targeting; it’s me and my hard heart and sharp tongue they’re attacking. It’s personal, because I was the one to make it personal.
I often say that I have a ministry of apology (a pretty funny title in light of my last post), and most of it consists of admitting to customers of LivingChristianBooks.com that I made a mistake with their order. But it really should be called the ministry of repentance, because the non-office related portion of this ministry concerns the times when I’ve abandoned the Holy Spirit and hurt people.
Why We Shouldn’t Make It Personal
Every single time that I get personally and defensively involved in an offense against me, I extinguish the move of Jesus Christ in me toward that person. God moves on a million micro-levels at a time in every situation I encounter. There’s teaching and testing and sanctifying and healing and correcting and illustrating and so much more, but in it all and through it all and ABOVE it all is Love. Love is the reason and the rhyme for me and for whomever God allows to encounter me. When I make it personal, I quench the Love that is meant to flow out of the vessel He created me to be.
“You know, when you called me the slow-witted offspring of a one-eyed donkey and its incontinent cousin, I met Jesus and was utterly changed!” said no one ever. And that’s what the Spirit reminds me of again and again and again. If Martha and John and countless precious others had made it personal where I was concerned, I wouldn’t be here. We don’t have to make it personal and we shouldn’t, because it’s more than just our own lives on the line. God forgive me for losing sight of that! I’m so grateful that our Father never does.
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NKJV