Rev. Hillary Dawes, PhD, SC-C
"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6, KJV)
The godly life or the spiritual life is your personal journey in the Spirit to wholeness and inner peace. Along this journey, there are many bumps in the road, and sometimes it can seem discouraging. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do, and how well you follow every thing by the book, things backfire, and you are met with frustration along the way. Sometimes the setbacks can be so overwhelming that you feel like giving up; hence the need to know whether you are on the right track or not, so you are not expending needless energy or putting energy into things that do not serve your highest spiritual good. In this blog, I have developed this list of ten things, as a way to give you guidance along your path, so that you are encouraged in your journey.
- 'WORLDLY' PEOPLE FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE IN YOUR PRESENCE (John 15:18-20). They can't tell you why they dislike you, even though you are nice and not pushy, and you really do care about people. Your 'goodness' is a turn off for them, as it makes them feel bad about themselves. You are too much of a 'goody-two-shoes' as that makes them uncomfortable. They invariably try to find ways to show you up as a fake or someone disingenuous. They try to dig up dirt on you so as to bring you to their level. Don't let this kind of persecution and pressure get to you. If you continue to be consistent in your demeanor, and be your true self, after a while they will leave you alone.
- YOU ARE MORE INTERESTED IN PEOPLE THAN THINGS (Luke 12:15). You don't see socializing and having fun with your friends and family as a waste of time. Jesus was accused of being a party-person, and too sociable (Luke 7:34). Your goal in life is not to amass tons of wealth but to build good memories with the people in your life, by building strong, solid friendships, relationships, and family (Matthew 16:26). You provide for your family, but you are able to balance work with social time.
- YOUR LOVE IS NOT INSTITUTIONALIZED. It means you truly love what you are doing, and you are not loving others just because you saw a commandment in the Bible to love others. It is not a love where you are doing XYZ because Jesus said you are to do those things to show love. Sharing the gospel, giving Bible studies, preaching to the homeless, and evangelizing are typical institutionalized way to show love to others. Please bear in the mind that doing those things do NOT require you to love at all, if you are doing them out of obligation to fulfill a command. As a matter of fact, those things are really duties, and not necessarily acts of love. If your love for another person is based upon them following your teachings, then is it truly love? Do you only care for them if they follow your teachings or do you care for them regardless? Do you call down hell and destruction on them if they do not abide by your doctrines? A truly spiritual and godly person practices tolerance and love regardless, and does not seek for the destruction of another soul (Luke 9:51-56).
- YOU HAVE ALL THAT YOU NEED FOR THE PRESENT (Philippians 4:19). The spiritual person does not give into the mindset of lack. The spiritual person recognizes that all his/her needs are being provided for, and are being met. The spiritual person has an abundance mentality and not a scarcity mentality. The temporary appearance of lack in the present does not mean a loss of spiritual status for the spiritually-minded person. The spiritually-minded person is at total peace with God's providence.
- YOU GIVE WITHOUT AN AGENDA TO SATISFY THE EGO (Matthew 6:1-6). I am not referring to public relations and marketing that companies do to advertise their business or what churches or ministries do to let the public know what services they have to offer, and how they are serving the community. This is about using your acts of charity to another person to make yourself look good in front of others. Where the focus is not on the person you are helping but on you, where you use your good deed to make a show of your righteousness before others. An attitude like that will drive away people from your confidence as the cost of being publicly humiliated is not worth the help you are offering. I have been in positions where teachers wanted to use me as an exhibit for their class when I obviously did not feel comfortable going up in front. They were more interested in proving their point for 'educational purposes' without regards for my feeling. It's difficult to trust people who put you up for show. If you are the kind of person who is critical, judgmental and condemning, and love to point out the sins of others, do not be surprised that you get 'persecuted' by others. When you judge or condemn others, it causes you to be condemned back by them in defense. This is the law of reciprocity in action. This was why Jesus said, "Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). It will all come back to you. Your reward in life is the satisfaction that you get when you help others, and the joy of knowing that another life has been helped. Having inner joy over the happiness of others is a sign of spiritual maturity (Romans 15:12).
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU (Luke 17:21). A lot of folks identify heavily with the churches they attend. While that is good for the church you attend, it does not say anything about your relationship with God - only your relationship with your church. Church membership does not equal having the kingdom of God within you. The kingdom of God is not a building or even a visible place with borders (John 18:36). The kingdom of God is the life of the Spirit residing in you (Luke 11:20). It's you being 100% authentic regardless of whether its Sunday morning in church or Monday morning on the job. Some folks are only 'good people' in church or in front of others, but behind closed doors, they are no different than anyone else. The Spirit within you is 24-7, and is not something that comes upon you in church that causes you to yell and shout. The Spirit within you is that Life within you that causes re-birth (Romans 8:5). In the Spirit-filled life your tendencies change. You tend to be attracted more to peaceful, loving, and compassionate ways to live. The fruits of the Spirit manifest more and more in your life (Galatians 5:22-23).
- YOU ARE MORE INTERESTED IN HELPING OTHERS THAN PUSHING DOCTRINES (Matthew 23:25; James 2:14-18). It always amazes me to see people giving Bible tracts to the homeless and hungry on the streets - preaching to them and yet never offering them any food, clothing or shelter. While you may have no problem spending money on lots of tracks to share the gospel to people who may never attend your church, and you might find it difficult to spend the same amount of money to provide a meal to the hungry. Yes, sometimes they use the money to buy alcohol, cigarettes, etc but you can also help by giving to a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Where I live, we have at least two homeless shelters. They do an EXCELLENT job of keeping lots of homeless people off the streets, as well as provide spiritual counseling and educational opportunities. This is the one I support regularly. And I don't work for them. I just love what they do for our community.
- YOU DON'T GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO SEEK SPECIAL HONORS FOR YOURSELF (Luke 22:24-27; Matthew 23:1-12). Nothing is worse than church folks fighting for church office, and using church office as a means to exert power over the lives of people. A spiritual person is not interested in power grabs, but concerns him/herself with serving others. You are on the wrong track if your focus is on jockeying for elitist positions in the church to satisfy your pride. If you are the type of person who does not respect the spiritual gifts of others, but try to outdo others in their gifting or even belittle their gift, you are going the wrong way spiritually. The body won't thrive if only one voice or one opinion matters. Don't be surprised that your church is not seen as a place of community but just a place of hostility.
- YOU DO NOT PRACTICE BLIND FAITH (Matthew 23:24). Blind faith is following some religious teaching that fails to deliver, yet hoping it will all pan out if one has enough faith. Insanity is described as doing something over and over again, expecting different results. If your faith in something is proven false, why do you cling to false hope? I never understood that concept. I am tired of hearing Evangelists chastising people for not having enough faith for healing from an illness or for their state of poverty. The truth is that they are misleading people as to the true state of their affairs. Don't get sidetracked with slick attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the sheep- buy this anointing oil here or this scarf here to be healed or bring blessings in your life. Yes, we have all heard this, and many do buy those things, and are no better off than when they started. Some have even become worse off, as their problems remain unaddressed. It's so much better to seek counseling whether from your pastor, a spiritual counselor like myself, or a qualified secular counselor for your life problems and for proper guidance, than to buy into hocus pocus.
- YOU ARE WILLING TO LISTEN TO THE POINT OF VIEWS OF OTHERS WITHOUT BECOMING DEFENSIVE OF OWN BELIEFS (Psalm 119:165). Too many of us are more interested in defending our beliefs than finding out truth. Your truth and my truth are not always the same, so there is no point in you trying to prove your truth to me, as your truth does not resonate with my truth. Really, the root of all these debates is the fear of being wrong, and the fear of being found believing in a lie, so we cling, argue, and provoke each other to anger with ad homien attacks, in order to defend what we believe to be truth. I love the saying, "Truth needs no defense." Do you know why? If something is true, it is going to be evident, and the proof of it being truth lies in its own veracity. No amount of questioning, analysis, or examining can destroy that which is true, because the more you dig into truth, the more credible it becomes. On the other hand, truths based upon unproven beliefs or unsupported feelings may not pan out when put to the test. The enemy to falsehood is truth - not more falsehood. Truth cannot be destroyed by lies. The truth will always come out. You need to get to the place where people can express themselves with you, without you taking it personally, and getting all mad and irate with them. A truly spiritual person is not bothered or disturbed by differences in opinions (1 Corinthians 11:19).
In conclusion, the spiritual life leads you to the abundant life of peace, happiness, and joy! For more information on how to live the abundant life and to get spiritual counseling on the abundant life, please visit my website.