When you were a child, how many times, when you went somewhere outside of your home, did your parents say “you better be good while we’re out”? They may have even bribed you into top behavioral form by offering a treat of some sort. Your parents were there as the constant reminder of how or how not to behave.
Enter adulthood, and the entire game changes. You are no longer under the watchful eye of the people that helped bring you into the world. They always told you that “we brought you into this world, and we can take you out.” While said tongue-in-cheek, the statement served its purpose.
Now you’re out alright, but most likely on your own volition. There’s nothing to stop you from going against everything you’ve ever been told… or is there?
Enter the new head coach: the Holy Spirit. Typically not too far off from those pesky parents, you end up finding out you’re right back to guidance from someone, like it or not, who knows better than you. The key difference this time? Nobody is going to step in front of you, point a finger in your face, and force you to listen. The listening part is up to you, and with all of the noise of this world, that voice can get very faint.
To an atheist, that small voice might likely be referred to as a conscience:
- “It’s my conscience that keeps me from hurting someone.”
- “When I want something that’s not mine, I know it’s wrong because it’s a basic human principle.”
The question must be asked, however, of the origin of such principles. Were they simply your parents’ beliefs? Were they your grandparents’ set of values? Where did the first of your lineage gain such valuable knowledge? What if stealing in one culture was simply “sharing” in another? The fact of the matter is, there are some basic core beliefs that ALL people have, the origin of which is not of this world. Even thieves do not care to be pilfered from, which should tell you something. Some ideas about what is good behavior pervade all cultures and value systems, and most of them land smack dab in the middle of the Ten Commandments.
So what is the rudder of your ship? How would you even know if you’re off course? If you ask people of a secular nature today, you’re likely to get a somewhat cringe-worthy response:
“Just do you.” “Do what feels good.” “It’s your life. Do what you want.”
While there’s a positive slant to some of these statements (e.g. you should always be yourself!), the predominant overtone is that of “anything goes”. This is an absolute breeding ground for the absurd, and there emerges an opening for darker forces to enter your life and invade your mind.
When you make a decision to listen only to yourself, bad choices are made. We can even take a secular approach to decision-making, and I’m betting not one person would disagree that choices made in a vacuum, without any mentoring or input from others, often yields less than optimal results.
So how do we get the best out of ourselves, especially in light of all of the temptations that face us? I mean let’s face it, we live in a time in which we are bombarded with sexuality, violence, and all manners of what can excite even the most guarded heart. You cannot even look at a news outlet web page without at least an occasional racy picture on the home page. How do we stay “good” in a world where social media allows us to say absolutely anything to anyone, typically without repercussions? How do we sail our ship through the squalls of seduction at every turn?
The answer lies in focusing on the Holy Spirit, and daily prayer. This is a spiritual battle we are in, and we are outnumbered. The best way to get the upper-hand is to have the unfair advantage of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as Captain and Commander of your life.
It’s not always easy to center yourself around our Lord and Savior. It’s not always smooth sailing, and sometimes you forget just who can ease the journey, and point you towards the horizon. In my life I have had ebbs and flows in my walk with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I can clearly see his work in my life, and my character. Other times, when I become selfish, easily angered, or don’t focus myself on looking out for my ship mates, I feel that clear emptiness that exists when He doesn’t in my life. When that happens, I know I’m long past due to center myself on prayer, scripture, and The One that can turn the ship around.
Lord, Heavenly Father, I pray today that all that who may read this may make their heart a vessel for your Love, Grace, and Goodness now and forevermore. Amen.
Peace & Blessings,