As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, are you living the life of a pig or that of a chicken?
On the morning of April 18, 2019, I began Bible devotions. At the outset I decided to close the Bible and read whatever New Testament page I got upon re-opening it. I did it that way because I didn’t want to read a passage that had anything to do with a work–in–progress (WIP) of mine.
The First Work of the Holy Spirit
I closed the Bible, and re-opened it randomly at 2 Corinthians, chapter 1. After reciting Ephesians 1:17 through 23—spiritual calisthenics—I read verse 1 and then wrote a note. For some inexplicable reason, I looked up, past verse 1 and the introduction for chapter 1. My eyes beheld 1 Corinthians 16:22. Ten days earlier, I had seen this verse while heading to 2 Corinthians 3:6, and had planned to use it in the WIP mentioned above, but had forgotten. This time, I stopped my Bible devotions, and wrote the verse into the work-in-progress the way I saw it working. The inspiration that saturated my being propelled me to write an entire chapter based on that single verse.
So “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”1. The victory that “has [caused us to] overcome the world—our faith”2.
The Second Work of the Spirit
With 1 Corinthians 16:22 taken care of I re-commenced Bible devotions. My eyes went on a scenic tour to take in verses 1 through 18 of 2 Corinthians 1. They stopped at different verses whenever they wanted me to take notes. During this time my mind worked in the same zigzagged fashion a duck moves its bill through water to filter a morsel. In my case, my “spongy mind” had an insatiable thirst for spiritual morsels: revelations of the Word of God and insights. My eyes drove up to verse 19 and stopped. In short order, I realized this verse would also work well in the WIP. I wrote a note about how it would fit in.
Have you seen what I’ve seen?
Do you see a lesson from my experience? I do. It’s this: If we put God first, He will give back to us the same sacrifice we had placed on the altar to honor him, not counting our flesh nature or its works.
If we sacrifice fleshly things, including our desires, wishes, wants, and even needs, because some of us call our wants, needs, which may be true or we might have convinced ourselves that they were needs. One thing always holds. If we do what the Holy Spirit lays upon our hearts, we wouldn’t go wrong. The way of the Spirit is the way to go. Remember, on the matter of wanting our needs met, Jesus tells us we are more valuable than sparrows, and God feeds sparrows. Therefore, we shouldn’t worry about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear, because our heavenly Father knows we have need of these things3.
I did everything possible to avoid reading anything that would put the WIP before God. I wanted God, not something from Him. I wanted His heart, not His hands. I wanted Him, His presence. Why? Early in my walk of faith, I told myself that whenever I’m in the word of God—reading the word of God—I’m in God. When I get the word of God in me—by reading and doing the word of God—God is in me. That’s pure intimacy—pure oneness.
I also knew that the more I knew Him, getting what He prepared for me before the world began was a done deal. By closing the Bible and “blindly” opening it up in the New Testament, no one, not even God, could say that I didn’t put Him first, or that I rigged it to get my heart’s desire. Yet, what I sacrificed, a godly thing—working on the WIP—was exactly what God gave me back, not “double for my trouble”, as they say, but “double for my putting Him first”: 1 Corinthians 16:22 and 2 Corinthians 1:19. When we put God’s word first, we put Him first. He placed His word above His name4.
When I wrote those two Scriptures into the ongoing work, I didn’t even have a featherweight of guilt gnawing at my soul. No conviction, because I played no part in selecting what I read. God had blessed me for putting Him foremost. Jesus told the Church at Ephesus that it had left its first love5. It had stopped putting Him first.
Making God Our First Love
The more we honor God6, the more we give of ourselves to put Him first, and vice versa. The more He becomes our first love7. When that happens, we will discover what others have and said, “We cannot out give God.” I discovered that neither can we out sacrifice Him.
Could you name a sacrifice you or I could endure to show that our love for God would be greater than the sacrifice God gave, so He could adopt us into His family? I am alluding to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who God sacrificed for Mankind.
A Different “Giving”
In the Gospel of John, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Jewish leader, came to see Jesus one night8. Jesus told him: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life [emphasis added]”9.
In this verse, the past tense verb gave, of give, doesn’t mean to offer someone something as we do when we exchange gifts. It shows, in this verse, to give one’s life. Jesus sacrificed His life. He told everyone: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world [emphasis added]”10. His type of giving equates to another truth He uttered: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”11 Jesus gave His own life to show He had possessed the greatest love for you and me. What a gift? What a sacrifice?
Based on how God and we give, an analogy taken from the annals of the breakfast table would do justice. It will show the stark difference between the way we give as opposed to how God has always given and continues to give.
An Analogy of the Barnyard Kind
A domesticated analogy will show the difference between the two types of giving already mentioned. It provides a good understanding of divine giving versus Mankind giving by using the way a chicken and a pig contribute to our breakfast to sustain us naturally.
One day a chicken and a pig discussed the degree to which each of them loved people. Because both of them were full of the flesh, we would expect them to compare and to compete.
The chicken told the pig: “Every week, my owner can bank on me giving his family at least one-dozen eggs. But you, Mr. Piggie, what do you give on a weekly basis?”
In response Mr. Piggie said, “Ms. Chicken, your giving a dozen or more eggs every week doesn’t require skin off your nose because you’re only involved. Any chicken can give because no pain or hurt or suffering comes with laying eggs.
With me, Ms. Chicken, I am committed. I have to die, lay down my life once and for all time, so that people can eat of my flesh, bacon, to live. That’s commitment, not involvement, Ms. Chicken!”
Kingdom of God Lifestyle
In the Kingdom of God, the committed, not the involved, gets to see and to experience the deep things of God12, including the blessings of God that washes our soul to keep our minds free of worry, anxiety, and fear naming a few of the ills that dominate a soul that’s only involved.
My Fervent Prayer
I pray that all of us move increasingly from the category of involved to that of committed or deeper into the committed.
Father God, Paul on Your behalf, said that he also suffered things; but he was not ashamed, for he knew in whom he had believed, and knew You could keep what he had committed to You until that Day.13
And Peter said that when people reviled Jesus, He did not respond in kind; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to You who judges righteously14.
Father God, thanks for letting us know what Paul said about himself, and for what Peter said about Jesus. Their words show us the mindset we not only need to develop, but must also have if we want to know when we have joined the ranks of the committed.
Father God, we know You want us to commit ourselves more and more to You, the longer we profess to know Jesus, our teacher, Elder Brother, Lord, and Savior. Committing ourselves to You is Your will for us, so we know that You will help us become more and more committed to You.
May everything prayed for come to pass for all of us, in due time, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
|11 Cor. 15:57||8John 3:1|
|21 John 5:4b||9 v. 16|
|3 Matt. 6:25-34||10John 6:51|
|4Ps. 138:2||11John 15:13|
|5Rev. 2:4||121 Cor. 2:10|
|6Prov. 3:9||132 Tim. 1:12|
|7Rev. 2:4||141 Pet. 2:23–24|