Links Daily Devotional

Pushing Away, Drawing In

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28, NIV)

Golf fitness involves a good bit of your body if you’re doing it right.

Trainers will tell you to emphasize your core and gluts as a golfer, but you will also find need to keep your legs and back strong, as well as adding to muscle to your arms, from hands to shoulders.

This arm focus should, in total, be balanced between pushing and pulling exercises—say presses and curls, respectively. Except it is true that in your real life you tend to do a fair bit of “pushing” already. You drive and type with your arms out in front of you. You might also move a lawn mower or stroller this way. So if you’re spending time in the gym working on your golf body, don’t be afraid to give the pulling work some extra attention.

Interestingly, the life we are to live in the Spirit also involves pushing away and drawing in.

Consider today’s very specific instruction from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Stealing is a sin, something from the old life before Christ entered the heart of the thief. So, yes, there is a need to push this temptation and action away. Stop stealing.

But in its place, the thief is to pull into his life something new—honest work. Rather than using his hands for sin, the thief becomes a giver, using his hands to do good, serving and blessing others.

It’s simple. Not only has the old gone, but new has come. “Put off your former way of life,” Paul wrote earlier in chapter four. “Be made new in the attitude of your minds; and…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Why is this replacement principle so important? Jesus warned that a man who has swept his house clean of demons can expect a return party—not one unclean spirit, but many, with the same old wiles (Matthew 12:45). If the man does not begin to build structures of holy living in his life, the temptations will gnaw at him until he cannot resist. A “clean sweep” is like John’s baptism of repentance—only the beginning; what is needed is Jesus’ baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire—salvation, empowerment, and refining.

By the Spirit, thieves don’t just stop stealing; they train their hands in holy giving.

By the Spirit, liars don’t just stop lying; they tell the truth even though it costs them suffering.

By the Spirit, adulterers don’t just stop sleeping where they should not; they embrace faithfulness, exclusivity and soul-centered intimacy—the same traits of commitment to Jesus being the best traits for a lasting marriage.

You get the picture. There are sins in your life that you need to push away. And in their place, there are habits of righteousness you need to draw in. Today.

Jeff Hopper

August 22, 2011

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