Before we even start we need to do examine any task, challenge, or responsibility and be assured that it lines up with Scripture. If it doesn’t show up in Scripture then it doesn’t matter.
First Response: We pray. Most of the time we see something in scripture we are filled with a variety of feelings. We might feel excited, anxious, fearful, doubt, and we might feel our heart race a little faster. We start thinking, “What if I do it wrong, what if I mess up, what if other people do better than me?” Our mind and heart starts racing and that is why we need to pray. We take those thoughts and feelings to Jesus. Involve Jesus in the conversation as quick as possible. Go to Him with our fear, our anxiety, our doubts, maybe frustrations, or even anger.
Second Response: Turn to Scripture, involve truth, that is why we want to read it, listen to it, and let it fill our hearts and minds because Scripture will remind us that through faith in Jesus we have been empowered and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. That is God living inside us. Scripture teaches us we have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven. We are blessed. We need Jesus, but it doesn’t mean we are incapable. We are not defeated by sin, Scripture describes us as conquers, we are victorious, we are children of God, no longer in the dark, but in the light as children of righteousness, a new creation, made alive, and we have been given wisdom, strength, boldness, confidence, and anything Jesus calls us to He has given to us the ability to respond. That is why His yoke is easy and His burden is light, that is why we find rest, that is why we will never thirst again because it doesn’t come from us, but from Him. When we neglect prayer and neglect being reminded of all that we have been given in Jesus then we will turn to self-sufficiency and result in arrogance or discouragement.
Third Response: Application. How does it happen? What are the baby steps? Take some time to examine and brainstorm how to apply the biblical challenge. Remember this isn’t of our own effort. We aren’t impressed with what we accomplished. This is Jesus, Holy Spirit, and us coming together. It doesn’t lead to arrogance because this didn’t happen alone. It doesn’t lead to discouragement because we aren’t doing this alone. It isn’t competing with your friend or spouse to be more spiritual, it isn’t guilt from a religious leader; it is a powerful experience as we connect with the eternal God.
Fourth Response: Action. This week I am going to pray for this friend, call a friend, set up a lunch with a friend, go on a walk with a friend, get involved at my kids school, attend a family event, help my neighbor with some landscaping projects, or go on a bike ride with a friend. It can look a lot of different ways. If we started with the action it could lead to exhaustion, but this is a process that started with Jesus and He is going to empower us and create those moments. There is a lot of grace in this process and Jesus is just cheering us on every day excited about what we are going to experience. Which leads us to our last response.
Fifth Response: Reflection. What did I learn from the experience? What was more difficult than I thought? What was more enjoyable? What would I do different? What am I excited to try again? We go back to prayer and reflection and it might happen while you are reading Scripture, and it might happen while you are driving in traffic, sitting in a meeting, talking with a friend, and sometimes Jesus will speak a strong word to us because there is something we are holding on to that isn’t of Him.
I don’t mean to reduce the spiritual life to a 5 easy-step process like an easy bake oven, but it is important not to skip that first and second step and go straight to the third or fourth response because it will result in self-sufficiency, exhaustion, arrogance, and discouragement; and ultimately we become like the religious leaders of the day who did all the “right” things on the outside but internally there was a lack of any relationship with Jesus.