Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) – 1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Colossians 3:2 (NKJV) – Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
It’s often assumed to be among the successful ranks in family, social, and work environments we’re going to make compromises as we learn to adapt to patterns expected in these circles. These are often people we love dearly; we know as a family and close friends. We’ve all felt this pressure to fit in, feel accepted, included, and respected. But how do we handle experiences where their expectations don’t truly align with who we authentically are at our core as we strive to live in Christ?
Have you heard the cliché “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? If so, it would come in handy about now, wouldn’t it! It’s amazing how we hear can common phrases that sound like scripture and credit them therefore as truth.
I’ve heard the above phrase many times and believed it to be based somewhere in scripture when, in fact, it was a phrase first made known by Saint Ambrose. The closest likeness I find refers to Paul’s conversation in Colossians 2. This common phrase is not what’s really being taught by Paul (a deeper conversation not intended here).
The slightest feeling of compromise in our thoughts, become decisions, become actions, that differ the instructions and examples given us in scripture and now conviction of the Holy Spirit, is a lie fed to us by the enemy. He is skilled at tempting us to adjust our conscious, justifying a decision or action we make. His purpose is to get us even slightly off the course we’ve committed to. The enemy knows a single degree off over a long distance keeps us from reaching the intended endpoint of our goal.
I’ll confess in a heartbeat such compromises have been a thorn in my side and I continue to fight this battle, albeit now more often quickly recognized thankfully. When we find ourselves in these circles of influence and caught in a situation like this, we know full well going against the expected grain and flow is going to cause some tension and actual damage is not uncommon. And who feels comfortable around beloved family, friends, and working peers when we feel misaligned with their expectations of us?
Compromising any part of our lives as we continually learn how best to live them from scriptures and other trusted spiritual resources can bring nothing but hurt when we find ourselves pressured to do so. Trying to adapt to the acceptance of others in social circles, work environments, and even families where we recognize attitudes and actions not conducive to expressing the love, grace, mercy, and obedience to God’s perfect will be painful for us! Why? Because we immediately recognize we are not living Christ THROUGH us at that moment. Our hearts and minds have become sensitive to the Spirit’s gentle, acknowledging nudge. And the more we open our lives in every way, wanting nothing more or less than to be an empty vessel Christ can live in and through to any capacity and direction He pleases, the more sensitive we become. We’re no longer numb to even the smallest of thoughts and actions that are not in alignment to the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, instead, we immediately feel the sting of realizing we’ve either stepped one foot ahead or behind His direction and/or timing and we quickly recognize such sinfulness oozing out and displaying itself.
This will always be our natural state, even as we try our best otherwise. Rather than beating yourself up in your mind and focusing on the failure in these moments, I’d admonish you to consider a different angle. Consider the memory of an earlier time when you were here and felt no sting of conscious, before giving your all to living the Christ-Like life. Reflect on how beforehand these moments just slipped right through unnoticed or quickly justified when felt at all. We’re going to fail here, all of us, but let’s rejoice in the “sting” and thank the Spirit for caring so much that He produced it to get our attention.
The scriptures speak of us not being of this world, being called and set apart, and fully expected to think, feel, and conduct ourselves differently than the populace that surrounds us and we must live within. We are special, redeemed, and now called out! YOU are special and the surrender God asked of you is ironically the most liberating life you could ever dream with blessings that far surpass the riches of others that “seem” to have so much in this world.
Let’s look at some scriptures;
Jesus was praying to His Heavenly Father (our Heavenly Father as well!) for His disciples. You can very much take this prayer personally, as it equally applies to you as His disciple today.
John 17:14-19 (NKJV) – I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19. And for their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
The moments we feel the discomfort of not fitting in are intentional. We are in them by Christ’s request to the Father in John 17:15 above. The culture we live among is so heavily influenced by the present ruler of this world. We live among this culture each day, yet we differ from those under the influence of the ruler of this world as we try our best to allow Jesus Christ full control of our mind and hearts.
John 14:30 (NKJV) – I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
There are many scriptures encouraging those of us, consciously or unconsciously failing to understand the critical and eternal importance of surrendering every aspect of our lives, minds, emotions, decisions, etc. to the Spirit of Christ.
As shared earlier, this isn’t our human nature and requires a laser-focused intention to resist temptations that have us otherwise yielding to the point we don’t even realize our failure until we have committed the sin. The above scriptures support many others like them regarding the extreme importance and value of staying the course, surrendering to the Spirit’s directional nudges, and acting on the wiser of the decisions, His way over your way.
Other meaningful scriptures:
Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV) – The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.
Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV) – The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) – There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Again, brothers, embrace the sting, stand proud knowing the Holy Spirit is doing His work directing you at such times. You are growing as you continue to allow the Spirit of Christ Jesus to live through you. A quick “Oops, so sorry Lord” followed by “Note to self… do my best not to repeat that” is how we grow.
Grow, brothers, be proud that God has set us apart for special missions requiring higher knowledge, skills, and courage. We can only know them by daily yielding our minds and hearts to the Spirit and striving to recognize the nudges of His precious Holy Spirit.
In this surrender, we find FREEDOM!
Love ya brothers,