Why We Struggle to Live for God
Solomon started his reign so well. What happened?
We experience the same failure. We fail to persevere in wisdom and holiness for the same reason.
Solomon didn’t want it. He didn’t want holiness as much as he wanted riches, glory, women, power, and fun.
In our lives before we were born again, we were slaves to sin. We couldn’t choose God, holiness, wisdom, or pure love. Some of our actions had degrees of good in them, but they were all corrupted by sin.
When God gave us a new nature in Christ, he gave us freedom to choose holiness. We are no longer slaves to sin, because Christ defeated sin. We can now choose holiness.
But we often don’t want it. We don’t want it as much as growing our wealth. We don’t want it as much as the good opinions of others. We don’t want it as much as relaxation, or entertainment, or security.
William Law wrote a great book called a Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. In it, he makes the case for our lack of holiness.
Think about it: if we say we want to pray more and devote our lives to God, but then don’t take more than a few minutes for his Word or prayer, that means we want other things more. Every time we choose to do something apart from God, or that replaces God, or that glorifies ourselves instead, we are saying that we don’t want God as much as it.
We have the power to live holy lives in everything we do. God gives us that power through Christ. But he also gave us freedom. We should not use our freedom to indulge in the sinful pleasures of this world, as Paul says in Galatians. And he makes very clear that anything we do that does not come from faith is sin.
Why should we want holiness? Why not just go through the motions, enjoy this life, and wait for heaven?
A reflection on the end of our lives gives us perspective on this. If we are lying on our death bed thinking about our life, we will regret the times that we did not live for God. All the wealth, possessions, Netflix series, clothes, and other things that we devote our time and talents to, will mean nothing to us in a few short days. When we stand before God, will we talk about how well we did at accumulating stuff, or how diligent we were about not missing a show in the series? No, the one thing that will matter is our devotion to God. Did we choose to devote our lives to God, or to other things?
Not only does holiness in our life matter for our eternity, but the more we devote to God in now, the more people we influence for God’s eternal kingdom. And as we devote more to God, we see that this becomes our supreme joy. Seeing someone transformed by God through our words and actions is much better than the next episode that comes out.
We have the choice in every action and thought that we have. We either choose to glorify God or to gratify ourselves. We choose to work as if we are working for God, or to work to gain money for ourselves. We choose to dress to point people to God’s beauty, or to draw others to our own beauty. We choose to use our free time to love God and others, or to live for our selfish desires.
What we choose shows us what we want. If we say we want #1 but choose #2, it shows that we actually don’t want #1 as much as we want #2.
If we find ourselves choosing to live for ourselves, we need to pray that God changes what we want.
We already have a new nature in Christ. How much do we want to live according to that nature?
Solomon had a choice. He chose to gratify his selfish desires instead of glorify God. In the end, it was devastating for him and his kingdom, and his deep regret is shown in Ecclesiastes.
We have a choice. Do we want God enough to choose him over ourselves?