In our lifetimes, we make countless decisions. Think about it. In a single day, can you even count the decisions you make in a “normal” day? Things like:
- What to wear
- What to have for breakfast
- What time to make and/or return those phone calls
- Which items on your “To Do” list have priority
- Where to get groceries
Then think about things like:
- Where to spend our energy
- Where to spend our time
- Where to spend our money, and how much of it
But maybe the one that is most poignant is this one…
How do we spend our lives?
This has been especially highlighted to me this past week. In one week’s time, three of my cousins passed away. They ranged in age from 16 to 77, and died from various causes, some more tragic and some more expected, or at least somewhat so.
At any rate, all three passings were individual mile markers. Completions. The conclusion to three human lifetimes.
We only get so many days to ride around the sun, and there are decisions made during those days that determine whether or not we’ll spend eternity with the Son.
We hear so often that this life is “training for reigning.” In most ways, this is true. But some of the importance is lost in the word “training.” It makes it sound as if this is a practice run. As if we accidentally make a ridiculous face or are looking away when the snapshot is taken, we get a retake. And that’s simply not true. We’re not like Felix the Cat with his nine lives.
One life. That’s all we get.
So how do we maximize the impact of this one life?
There’s way too much ground to cover to answer that in one teaching, but here’s where I like to start.
Live from the inside out. Not the other way around.
Just like the Lord is three-in-one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are also triune beings. We are made up of body, soul, and spirit.
To keep it very simple, the body is our physical human anatomy. The soul is made up of our mind, will, and emotions. And our spirit is the core of who we are…it is who we really are.
It is our physical body that comes into contact with the outside world. If it is hot out, our body feels it. Based on that trigger, our soul via the mind chooses to take off our jacket. This equates to “maintenance” to keep the body habitable by the spirit.
But then things can get complex. Let’s say the outside trigger is verbal abuse by someone else. It’s not a physical threat, but it runs deeper…directly wounding the soul by way of the emotional component. The spirit man is grieved. Left uncorrected, the person will be hindered at best and will end up totally ineffective at worst.
That’s what happens when we live life from the outside in. It places more significance, power, and influence on the external circumstances than the internals.
And that’s not God’s perfect design.
What is then?
It begins by reframing our viewpoint. We are not a physical body having a spiritual existence. Instead, we are a spirit being having a physical existence. So when we are born again, our view should invert completely. Up until that point, we were flesh born of flesh. But at that moment, our spirit is reborn of the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained this to Nicodemus in John 3:5-7.
Jesus answered, “Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.”
Just prior to that, in verse 3, He has said a man cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
After this spiritual rebirth, we can then see His kingdom. And where?
“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 17:21
The Kingdom is within us.
And what is a kingdom? It’s a government, the head of which is a king.
And what does all this mean?
The King of all Creation is the head of the government we carry within us. When we’re reborn, our spirit functions as a king under the overall rule of THE King. Simply put, we are to be governed from the inside out.
Our spirit, reborn of His spirit, is designed to govern us according to the principles of His Kingdom. Instead of letting our circumstances impact us, we are equipped to impact our circumstances.
We do this by a process called renewing of the mind.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NASB)
When our spirit is reborn, it’s new, perfect, and clean. This doesn’t mean that all of our soulish issues and physical problems disappear though. Some people do get delivered from things instantly, but more often than not, it’s through the process of sanctification that these things fall away.
As we begin to shift from an externally controlled life to an internally governed one, chains of bondage break off. As we study the Word of God, become acquainted with His character and let Him do a work of transformation in us, we gain a clearer picture of our true identity as sons and daughters of the King. With this kind of confidence, it becomes easier and easier to influence our environment instead of allowing our environment to influence us.
In summary, most people allow their environment to impact their body, which can impact the soul, which in turn, grieves their spirit man. But as Kingdom citizens, our spirit governs our soul, which wisely stewards our physical body, which in turn, influences the world around us. That’s what it means to live from the inside out.
With Christ living in us, we are stronger than we think we are. We are far more capable of stewarding this one life we get than we want to believe.
You know why?
Be prepared because I’m about to get very frank here.
We don’t want to believe we’re capable of stewarding our lives because stewardship comes with great responsibility.
As long as we can take the easy road and cop out of responsibility with things like, “Well, God is in control so whatever He decides…”, we are not stewarding our lives. We’re stepping away from the authority Jesus died to return to us, and by copping out, we can blame shift if things don’t turn out as we’d have liked. But that’s very dangerous ground because in that case, we’re shifting the blame to God, holding Him responsible for what He gave US to steward. Just look at the Parable of the Talents. Jesus made it pretty clear.
As sons and daughters of the King, we should live kingly lives. And that means we must steward them responsibly.
We get this one life. May we live it from the inside out, self-governing by Kingdom principles in such a way that our integrity provokes an unbelieving world to embrace the King.