Several years back, I did a Beth Moore Bible study called, The Inheritance. The theme verses were Psalms 16:5-6. That psalm was central to last week’s blog. Long before I participated in that study, I studied the inheritance of the Israelites in the promised land. I looked into that over a decade ago, because of something I thought God was telling me. I was crying to God about my singleness, and about being passed over by men. My heart heard Him clearly say, “It isn’t that you haven’t been chosen by men; I have set you apart.” No words should be credited to God, unless they can be found in His written Word, and after that, I began seeing the phrase, set apart, all over in Scripture. What was most special to me, was when God told Moses that He had set the Levites apart. They would not have an inheritance in the promised land, but rather, God was their inheritance. What comfort that brought to me! God had set me apart for an inheritance that was going to look different from other people’s. God was my inheritance. It seemed to line up with what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7; being single meant that I could focus on God. He had set me apart for a special relationship.
Unfortunately, Beth Moore rained on my parade, a bit. She extended this special inheritance to all believers. I didn’t want to share! Other women have husbands, children, and grandchildren, why do they need a piece of this single woman’s inheritance? Of course, the totality of Scripture supports the fact that I have to share. The New Testament calls believers a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) and confirms that all the saints are “fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) of a glorious inheritance. For some reason, I was thinking through it all again this week, and realized the source of years of struggling: I want to be special. It can be difficult to feel the full measure of God’s loving choice of me, individually, when I know that so many others have been chosen, too. But I am limiting God and, ultimately, being self-centered.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:11-14
It hit me: I was making it all about me, again! My sinful selfishness never ceases to amaze me, but I need to kill my feelings of self-importance in order to live for Christ. Over time, Christians become immune to the phrases from Scripture that should define our lives: “put off the old self,” “die to sin,” and “take up your cross daily.” We tend to think we’ve checked all the boxes and submitted to following Christ. But, if we don’t truly “count the cost” and strive to live for Christ, inevitably, we will be living for ourselves. Living for ourselves is the instinct of the inherently sinful human. Rightly did Jerry Bridges share in The Discipline of Grace, that we should preach the gospel to ourselves, daily. And having read that, I should have a better plan in place to practice it. Clearly, my daily Scripture readings aren’t enough to keep the truth of sin, grace, death, and life in the forefront of my mind.
This week, a verse caught my eye, that was posted on a co-worker’s cubicle wall: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalms 115:3. I read it differently than I had on previous occasions. Usually, I would think, “Yes, God is in control, and He does what makes Him happy.” But this week, I thought, “If God is doing what makes Him happy, shouldn’t I be happy with it, too?” If it pleases God to keep me single, shouldn’t I take joy in living within His will? Ultimately, shouldn’t I find pleasure in the things that please God? And, if I don’t feel like my relationship with God is personal enough, isn’t that my own fault? It helped to pull me out of my selfish state. As I sought to center my perspective back on God, all of the love, mercy, and faithfulness He has shown me, over the years, flooded my mind. I realized, also, what a blessing it was that He had reminded me with gentleness, when I probably deserved a ‘swift kick.’
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,Psalms 90:12, 14
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
For all of the times that I wonder why I bother to continue writing this blog, I see that, if nothing else, it keeps me working thought these issues of faith and remembering the lessons I’ve learned. Lord willing, I won’t always need to learn the lessons two or three times, if I write them down. Paul instructed us in Philippians 2:12b-13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” If you think you’ve arrived at satisfactory faith, if you believe that you have nothing more to wrestle with in surrendering to God’s plan of salvation, then it is all the more certain that you need to work some things out with God. We do this with “fear and trembling” because it is a matter of life and death. We work out our salvation knowing that it is ultimately God who is at work in our lives, to do as He pleases.