The office is quiet. Finally.
You’ve been attempting to finish a project all morning but the phone, clients and unexpected matters keep pulling you from the task at hand. Now that the craziness of the day has subsided, you can dig in to your work.
Ahhh! This is good! I might actually get this done toda-
What is that? No matter. Back to work.
There it is again. What could be causing that sound? I don’t see anything. Ugh – I need to finish this project.
Seriously. What on earth?
Jumping from your chair, you set out to find the source of the annoying noise. You don’t have to venture very far. Across the hall, sits your co-worker, phone in hand, punching away at little keys. DING. DING. DING. She’s playing a game.
“Come on! Even if you don’t have work to do, the rest of us do! Have you never heard of a volume button?” you scream as you snatch your co-worker’s phone from her hands, throw it on the floor and stomp it to bits.
You’re awakened from your vengeful fantasy by the sounds of your co-worker’s game.
Most of us probably wouldn’t admit to secretly desiring to Hulk-smash someone’s phone simply because that person was playing a game or having a conversation too loudly. But there are times when I become so frustrated with the actions of another that my first reaction, if I were to follow my inclinations, would be considered completely irrational and unacceptable behavior. (Hmmm. I should probably seek professional help or something. 😉 )
But I can’t believe that I’m the only one with similar inclinations. In fact, I know I’m not. All I have to do is open the Word of God to find reassurance that I’m not alone in the struggle with my fleshly desires. Take a look at what the Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans:
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
Romans 7:17-20 MSG
Paul – one of the most prominent figures of the early church, the apostle who declared, “Follow me as I follow Christ”, the missionary and teacher who preached the Gospel even when it cost him everything – yes, that Paul, openly admitted to an ongoing struggle between his flesh and his spirit.
I’m in pretty good company! 😉
But how do I overcome this fleshly desire to choke out my co-worker when she insists on putting every call on speaker phone? (I really do have some violent tendencies, don’t I!)
Paul helps me out here, too.
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desires of the flesh … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:16, 22-24 CSB
You see, the outcome of the battle within depends on the fruit I am cultivating in my life. When I allow spiritual fruits like love, peace, patience and self-control to influence my thoughts, words and actions, it’ll be those fleshly desires that get choked out – – – not my co-worker.
The angry, vindictive monster living inside does not have to win. I just have to fill him up with some good ol’ Fruit of the Spirit!