"Do you want to get well?"
This is the question Jesus asked a man that had been lying paralyzed beside a pool for THIRTY-EIGHT years! What a question, right? I would think this man would scream out, "YES!!!" Instead he gives Jesus his sob story, "Sir...I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me," (John 5:7). At first I want to feel bad for the guy, but then I think...thirty. eight. years.
I don't know about you, but when I really want something, I can think of some pretty wild schemes to get it! This man didn't seem too intent on getting well. He didn't even ask Jesus if he'd stick around and help him get into the pool. He just complained about his situation.
I love what Jesus told the man to do next. He said, "GET UP!" Ok, Jesus didn't yell (or, I don't know, maybe He did) but there IS an exclamation point after Get up! He told him to get up, pick up his mat and walk. Jesus did the work. He healed the man. But the man still had to accept the healing, he still had to carry his own mat and he had to walk.
Jesus is making you the same offer! Whatever it is that cripples you; anger, impatience, depression, lack of self-control - Jesus can heal it! But here's the catch: You have to accept the gift. When you accept a gift, you are not fighting against the person giving you the gift. You actively reach out and take the gift.
We actually already have several gifts our Lord has given us. They are the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Notice, it is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the Spirit. They are a packaged deal and given freely to anyone who has the Spirit of God within them.
So, if Christians already have them, why do we spend so much time asking, BEGGING God for them?
Galatians 5:24-25 hold the key: "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Right after Paul says we live by the Spirit and not the flesh he says in verse 26, "Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." So what gives? If we live by the Spirit then we shouldn't be conceited, angry, jealous or anything else negative (because the Holy Spirit cannot be those things); so why does Paul remind the Galatians not to be those things? Because we are human and because we have a choice.
Just like the paralytic that Jesus healed, we have to decide if we want to get well. We have to decide that we are not going to give into our fleshly desires. For instance, last night my husband got mad at me because he thought I had gone to bed while he was putting the boys to bed. I had not gone to bed but had gone to the restroom. Then when he told me he had been angry with me...guess what? I got angry at him!
A few years ago, this fight would have lasted all night. I would have gotten myself all worked up and probably cried myself to sleep because I had been misunderstood and falsely accused. Then I would have woke up this morning still angry and when I talked to my friends on my morning walk I would have fussed about Wes to them. They probably would have jumped on the bandwagon and said something negative about their husbands. Then I would have come home and snapped at J.D. (my oldest son) for being too slow getting ready for school because I'm good and ill by this point and proceeded to give my husband the silent treatment which would have sent him off to work in a bad mood. After all of that I would have gotten on Facebook and talked with my aunt and griped some more about Wes' insensitivity.
I could go on and on but I think I've made my point. I could have chosen that road. The reason I can give such a detailed account of that road is because I have chosen MANY times before. I know what it looks like. So, how did it turn out for real? Wes said, "I'm sorry I got mad at you," and I said, "That's okay, I was mad at you for being mad at me. Silly huh?" And that was it.
I have decided I don't want to be angry. Sometimes I feel justified in my anger; I have the "right" to be angry. But does it really accomplish anything? In my story, what did my anger accomplish? I got three friends in a bad mood with me, hurt my child's feelings, made my husband angry and got my day off to a rotten start.
Whether your issue is anger or depression or financial issues I have to ask you this question: Do you want to get well? We have to stop wishing to get well, pick up our mat and start walking! Jesus will do the work but we have to work with Him instead of against Him.
Get into the Word and find a couple of verses that speaks to you about your ailment. Commit those verses to memory and live them out! Attitude is everything. Make a decision - Get up and WALK!
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5