What’s True Spirituality?
Francis Schaeffer, the greatest Christian philosopher of the 20th Century, wrote a very thick, “heady” book entitled True Spirituality; that in my opinion represents the definitive work on the subject.
Allow me to boil it down for the hungry-hearted disciple of Jesus Christ into two simple, but not easy, clearly discernable qualities that will be present in your personality and character if you are experiencing true spirituality:
A Heart of Gratitude, at all times, under all circumstances, no matter
what, regardless of how adverse & painful life is
Lips of Thanksgiving, at all times, under all circumstances, no
matter what, even though there’s
no apparent reason to be thankful
This way of living is not easy! In fact, it’s impossible without the very Power and Presence of God, “Christ in you”, controlling you and flowing through you. This attitude of gratitude and these words of thanksgiving under any and all circumstances, no matter what, are manifestations of “walking in the Spirit” under His power and control, and therefore, represent true spirituality.
True spirituality is not something you produce; it’s something God produces in you while surrendered to Him and trusting in Him.
Teachings on the subject of Positive Thinking, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”, are scant on the topic of Gratitude and practically non-existent on the topic of Thanksgiving in relation to giving credit outside yourself for achievement, good things and success!
Why? Because you are the one responsible for producing successful living! Any attitude or action that is good, helpful or productive has you as the source.
And if on a rare occasion, when life is good, you muster gratitude for somebody else’s contribution, or a “Thank you, for making me successful”. What about during times of adversity, failure, pain and suffering, when life isn’t good? Where are your heart of gratitude and your lips of thanksgiving now? Are you grateful to yourself and pat yourself on the back for this adversity while saying to yourself, “Thank you for all this! You’re the man!” Don’t think so!
How about Christians?
Know any Christians who have become disappointed with God?
Do you know anyone who’s harboring resentment toward God and has grown bitter toward Him because of undergoing certain trials and tribulations that generated a great deal of pain and suffering?
How about someone who actually hates God for allowing them to be victimized or experience unexplainable tragedy?
What about this; Do you know a Christian who intermittently mumbles, groans and complains about life?
Have you, as a Christian, ever had any of these feelings or ever whined about life and thrown your own personal pity party?
Better question may be; Know anyone that hasn’t felt this way or reacted to life’s circumstances like this?
When faced with no water, no food, no variety of food, powerful enemies, faulty leadership and the overall hardship of life in the Wilderness, the Children of Israel “grumbled” inside, “mumbled” amongst themselves and complained to Moses against God. And by so doing, they failed these tests that were actually designed by God to reveal what was in their hearts.
This display of attitudes and words, while experiencing adversity, were labeled by God as “unbelief” and “disobedience” (Heb.3:18-19) and ended up costing every one over 20 years of age, except Joshua and Caleb, the Promised Land. Every one of them died in the Wilderness, never experiencing the “abundant life” God wanted to give them in The Promised Land, but He couldn’t give because of their unbelief displayed through their attitude and words.
“Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart” expressed through grumbling, mumbling and complaining.
These attitudes/words are the opposite of true spirituality;
A heart of gratitude and lips of thanksgiving,
at all times, in all circumstances, no matter what!
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess.5:16-18)
We are to offer God “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps 116:17) which is thanking Him when there is no good reason.
We are to offer God the “sacrifice of praise”. Why is it a sacrifice? Because, at the moment it’s offered, there is no circumstantial reason to praise Him. Nothing good is happening and, in fact, adversity of some kind is bearing down on us.
You see, when you have a genuine heart of gratitude and lips full of thanksgiving when there is no reason, you honor God for who He really is and enter into one of the greatest demonstrations of true worship possible!
By simply being grateful to God and giving Him thanks, you climb out of the earthly, temporal circumstances of life, whether good or bad, and rise into the “heavenlies”, into the realization of eternal things, affirming God’s love, His Sovereignty, His faithfulness, His grace and mercy.
You may not have known you were doing all that, but you are when you experience true spirituality by having a heart of gratitude and lips of thanksgiving!
God wants you to trust Him! He wants you to believe that,
“The one who keeps on believing will not, in no way, ever be disappointed” (stated 3 times in the New Testament Rom.9:33,10:11 & 1 Pet.2:6, must be of supreme importance) and
“that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”.
So, when we have a heart of gratitude and lips of thanksgiving at all times, under all circumstances, no matter what, we are demonstrating true spirituality, that honors God in an amazing way!
Expressed in this simple way, true spirituality is a demonstration of moment-by-moment worship, glorifying God for Who He is, what He has said, and all He has done, is doing and will do for us!