I was sitting at a Starbucks last week, waiting for my son to take a test. I was looking forward to catching up on my favorite blogs in my Google Reader, and chatting with a friend through Facebook Chat. A young girl, probably in her early 20s, came and sat at the table next to me, then left to get her coffee. I noticed a nice leather journal and a Bible on the table where she was sitting. I got excited. Maybe I would introduce myself to her and we would have a cool conversation about God. I started to rehearse in my head what I would say to “break the ice”. But that was short lived. She was waiting for someone and he came and sat down with her and they chatted.
Because my table was in such close proximity to hers, I couldn’t help but overhear most of their conversation, even though I was trying really hard to concentrate on my blog reading. They talked about a conference she attended, and he talked about his job. They talked of church and home groups. Intermixed with all of this was talk of partying, drinking, a swear word here and there, relationships gone bad. I was confused. Wasn’t she a Christian? Didn’t I just see her bring in her Bible?
She was living a life of compromise. I do not believe that God brought her there that morning for me to judge her. However, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart about the little compromises that I make in my life and how they keep me from growing and from producing good fruit.
Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes. (Song of Solomon 2:15)
When I read this verse, I think of those small little things that creep into my life with God and stunt my growth. Bad attitudes. Poor decisions. Selfish indulgences. Momentary pleasures. Speech that tears down. Lost tempers. Impatience. Laziness. Complacency. These are just a few of the little foxes that come to attack the vineyard of my heart. A garden cannot grow as long as these things are attached to the vine. It is up to me to tend the garden of my heart. I cannot allow things to enter in that come to kill, steal and destroy what is being cultivated there.
As I sat and listened to their conversation, I asked myself these questions:
Do I represent Christ well in my life?
Do I walk the walk, not just talk the talk?
Do others see me as a friend of God?
Would someone question why I brought a Bible into the room?
Is my speech uplifting others and glorying God?
My heart was moved and grieved. I am not living a deep, dark secret life that no one knows about. Those closest to me would tell you I am pretty much an open book. But it is the awareness my life of compromise that has caused me to stop and taken inventory of my heart.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)
When I accepted Jesus into my life, I became a new creation. I am to walk in newness of life. No longer acting upon the sinful desires of my flesh. I am to be dead to sin.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14)
It is by God’s grace that I have the strength to continue walking in freedom, in newness of life, not allowing the little compromises in. But it’s a choice.
Does what I watch on TV glorify the Lord?
Do I discipline my children in a Godly manner?
Do I treat my husband with honor and respect?
Do I love others well?
Do I allow fear, worry and regret to steal my peace?
…..and the list goes on.
Every day I am faced with situations where I have to chose my reaction or my direction. Will I choose to stand, by the grace of God, living my life uprightly before Him? Or will I give in to a momentary pleasure or hasty remark or decision, simply because it’s easier? It requires no faith, no perseverance, no steadiness of spirit. Why is it easier to give in to that part of me that is supposed to be dead to sin? How do I continually keep my heart tender before Him. Jesus said,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
I was made in the image of Christ. And the more time I spend with Him, the more I will look like Him. I do not want to be a Christian who goes to church and does all of the right things, but who’s life is questioned. I want my life to count for Christ. I want to produce good fruit. I don’t just want to simply exist. I don’t want to be religious. I desire to be like Christ. I want to live a life of no compromise.
I thank God for opening my eyes and my heart that morning to the things that come to spoil my vineyard. I thank Him for keeping my heart in a tender place, where I can hear His voice and respond to His heart. Most of all, I thank Him for His amazing grace to forgive my misguided steps and decisions and set me on the path to fullness in His presence.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.