God has called us to live a “large” life for Him. He wants to give us His blessings, His power, His love, His forgiveness, His joy, His hope, His peace, His transformation. These are all things that make life LARGER. They, if we will receive them, enable us to live ABUNDANT lives (see John 10:10, and John 15); more than that, we will also be able to live INFLUENCING lives – where others look and take notice (see Matt. 5:14-16).
But there are parasites within our soul that want to keep the seed of God’s largeness from bearing fruit. I call them “life-shrinkers”, they are the thoughts, attitudes and actions that make our lives “smaller” than they need to be. These life-shrinkers are in direct opposition to following the life of faith, of walking with Jesus 24/7. I am reminded of when Jesus could not do any miracles in a particular Galilean village because of their lack of faith – they were living lives dominated by life-shrinkers!
Although life-shinkers are common to all, everyone has their own set of life-shrinkers that specialize in short circuiting the life of Christ in their particular life. Mine are: impatience with others, critical spirit, greed, envy, guilt and fear. We are confronted constantly to choose between God’s “life increasing” things or my life-shrinking things. Here’s how they work in some not-so-hypothetical situations:
I notice that someone else is flourishing (ministry, financial, relational). I have a choice of rejoicing in their blessing or becoming envious. If I choose the envy route it leads me down a life-shrinking path: discrediting them, becoming resentful, joining others who are also envious, passing on juicy gossip, etc. In the process I become a much smaller, limited person.
A supervisor at work has the gall to reprimand me about something that he/she is always guilty of doing. What nerve! I have the choice to either look at the reprimand objectively and prayerfully or to harbor bitter feelings toward my supervisor. If I choose to harbor bitterness and its “life shrinking” powers go immediately into effect. I spend my hours at work watching for their every mistake, stacking up my case against them, and looking for the opportunity to get even.
The world calls Christians “a bunch of hypocrites.” Many Christians suffer a credibility gap – what they say about themselves does not match how they live. I believe this is due to the fact that, although we have the BIGNESS of God in our lives, our day to day decisions are still being decided by the “life-shrinkers” within us. The Apostle Paul tells us to put to death those things that “shrink” our lives (see Galatians 5:16-21, Ephesians 4:17-5:21).
What has helped me put these life-shinkers to death is to recognize them for what they are when they come to me. When a thought or attitude wants me to take action or to react in speech, I’ll say to myself, “That is such a small way of thinking. C’mon, Doug, you were called to bigger things than to react in that way.” Then I will pray, “God, I rest my case in You. Please lead me in Your path of right thought, speech and action.” And every time I do this, the thought or attitude dies. Every time! I must say that it is a lot easier to do this when you nip these things at the bud. It much harder (but not impossible) to overcome the “life-shinkers” when you’re already on the path of the flesh.
I hope this encourages you to gain victory in Jesus and to live the LARGE life He has for you!