Guest Post from Faly Ravoahangy of Madagascar 3M
With now over 190 countries affected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, one thing is certain: we all have had to make adjustments to the way we do life and things may never be the same again, at least for the present generation. It can seem odd to ponder on the aftermath of such a global catastrophe while still in the thick of it, but we all can only imagine how immense it will be. Both globally and at an individual level. Think of the impact on the world’s economy, tourism, healthcare, transport, food regulations, governmental interrelations, etc. Also consider the impact on you and me, some immediate with the loss of friends or family members, or the financial burden it lays on those whose income is dependent on global trades or on the influx of tourists, but other consequences four our future. Social interaction patterns will change and prejudice against certain ethnicities will potentially develop in our hearts. But these times of uncertainty are also the perfect opportunity to assess current habits and develop new ones. With many of our hobbies and activities affected, we have more time than ever for introspection. With many of us in confinement or a similar restriction on our movements, there are many ways we can redeem the pandemic-induced time at home with family, building or strengthening godly habits and outward focus.
Obviously, it is not like we are now temptation-less; so much junk is still available at our fingertips through a phone or computer keyboard. But the stay-at-home policy has put a big dent into our entertainment and social life. Ask yourself: “what am I currently truly missing while being stuck at home?” The answer will indicate the things we have assigned worth to. Some may be legitimate and godly but there could be other things we got accustomed to that lead to ungodliness.
Now is the time for us to assess and remove the things that needlessly occupied our minds and our schedules. Now is the time to eradicate the superfluous and the indulgently fleshly. Now is the time to set up healthier uses of the hours the Lord gives us each day. To “deny” here indicates a strong pledge to refuse to be associated with anything ungodly or carnal. The grace of God didn’t only grant us freedom from the slavery of sin, it enables us to grow in an aversion for sin, thus refusing to be exposed to it or influenced by it.
As we put off the deeds of the flesh, we need to replace them with enterprises that promote sensible living. The Christian walk is a divinely enabled growth in Christlikeness. One of the fruits of the inner transformation by the Holy Spirit is self-control. Our desires no longer control us, we control our desires and bend them to align with God’s will. To “live sensibly” is to increasingly and habitually live a wise, prudent and reasonable life, with our mindset on the things above (Col 3:1-2). This cannot be achieved without establishing godly disciplines, latching onto the ordinary means of grace – Bible reading and prayer. With now more time on our hands as we are not commuting to work, maybe we can:
- Pick up where we left that Bible reading plan started as part of our new year resolutions
- Spend more time on meditating on the Word of God, instead of our usual rushed-through reading
- Spend more time in prayer for those affected by Covid-19, for the medical staff worldwide, for churches and evangelists, for our families and friends, for the individual testimony of believers amidst the crisis, for a particular people group, for those who do not know the Lord, for our own walk with Him, and so much more!
- Commit to reading a book with our spouse or our kids.
- Take a free online class or study that doctrinal issue we always wanted to but never got to dig into.
- Do family devotions every morning and evening.
- Listen to edifying sermons.
Surely there is more we can do with our time and brain space than to read memes or scroll our Facebook feed all day.
God created men with a disposition towards relationships. His gracious salvific grace further heightened that calling by placing us in the fellowship of believers and making us citizens of heaven (Eph. 2:19-22). However, our sinful selfish nature still often blinds us to the point that we are oblivious to the needs of others. We so easily moan and complain about the current situation and fail to think and pray about how we can be used by God in the lives of others. Granted, our direct contacts with others are limited, but we still can call, we still can text to inquire about any spiritual or physical needs, we still can pray, and we still can transfer money to those who are less privileged. Those who want to live “righteously” are those who want to represent their righteous God in the lives of their neighbors. It means not amassing all the goods available in the supermarket just for oneself, it means not unnecessarily putting others at risk by not abiding by the dispositions imposed by the authorities. And it means not forsaking the assembling with others (Heb 10:24-25), even though virtually through Livestream or teleconference. “Godly” lives are lives focused on both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of their lives. True charity is not financial, it’s a disposition of heart that wants to put God on display and seeks the spiritual good of others.
There is an attentiveness, a vigilance, and a diligence that are evident in the life of someone who expectantly waits for the return of his Master. We will watch and pray (Mat 26:41) if we truly look forward to the return of our Lord. Our hope is not in the doctors finding a cure for Covid-19, neither is it in our lives going back to the old “normal” – though these are honorable thoughts – it is ultimately in the return of Jesus Christ to right every wrong, and to abolish sin and its effects once and for all. We fear when we forget how the story ends. We panic when we fail to remember that God is still on the throne and He does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). We fret when we live as if there were not an afterlife of joy in His presence that awaits us. Look up and fix your gaze on the author and perfecter of your faith. How would others put their trust in God if they see us dread the existing state of affairs as much as they do?
As believers, Christ died for us so we can live for Him. We were chosen before the foundation of the world to become a purified vessel to be used by God for His glory. By grace, we were saved to do good deeds. Our deeds cannot save us, but they are the evidence of the salvation purchased for us. Christians are marked by single-mindedness and determination to faithfully be worshippers and witnesses of the One who sought and saved them (Luke 19:10). May we be marked by a commitment to kill sin in our lives, may we be known for our passion for Christ and for the lost. May we be notorious for being fervent evangelists and relentless prayer warriors. And may those who observe our good deeds “glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12)
Soli Deo Gloria!