Scripture and faith steps to change your life for the better.
by- Posted on Apr 24, 2017
Devote one whole week to working on aspects of your spiritual development. It might be something like a seven—day diet—only in this case it’s a spiritual diet. Wouldn’t it be exciting to start on a Monday morning, work steadily through the week on seven phases of your inner life, and come out of the experiment 168 hours later noticeably changed—for the better?
If you’re willing to try, here is a seven-day blueprint for action.
Judge not. Matthew 7:1
We’re all tempted to make unkind or derogatory remarks. The basic reason is that pointing out another’s deficiencies makes us feel less uneasy about our own. So on this day start out by asking the Lord to help you stop judging others. Then watch yourself all day long. Though you may think some derogatory thoughts, do not express them. Bite your tongue. Count to ten. Do anything—but keep the critical or spiteful thought to yourself.
At the end of the day, if you have succeeded, you will feel a deep glow of satisfaction. If you haven’t, write down a brief record of each transgression. The following Monday read those notes, and begin again.
Seventy times seven. Matthew 18:22
It’s a rare person who can honestly say that he harbors no ill will against anyone. As we move through life, unfair and hurtful things happen to us, often because of something another person has said or done. But these grievances are like barnacles on the hull of a ship—slowing it down. Christ Himself recognized this problem when He told His disciples to forgive, not just seven times, but 70 times seven.
And so the discipline for Tuesday is to make a list of all the persons you dislike, those you think have wronged you, those from whom you feel separated by a gulf of resentment. Then pick one person and do something specific about bridging that gulf. Make a phone call. Write a note. Go up to that person at the office and say or do something that is a clear and unmistakable signal that the past is forgotten, that hostilities are over. Sometimes your overture may be rejected. But the fact that you have made it is what counts. Something good inside you will be strengthened. Something worthwhile inside you will grow. And something wise within you will know it.
God loveth a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7
In our computerized world, charity has become strangely impersonal. We give to this church or that organization with one eye on our bank account and the other on our tax deduction. Some of us tithe, but too often we are not cheerful givers. One reason may well be that in this kind of giving there is no direct contact between donor and recipient. The results of giving are invisible, and much of the warmth and joy of giving are lost.
The discipline for Wednesday is to take some possession that has real value for you and give it away. Not to a friend, who may somehow repay you, but to a stranger who needs it more than you do and who cannot repay. What you give, and how you manage the giving, is up to you. But it must be a direct, personal contact, with no intermediary and no hope of reward. And there is a further discipline here: You must tell no one of what you have done.
Be thankful. Psalms 100:4
All of us are debtors, not just to the Giver of life, but to countless individuals who have helped us along the way. Parents who gave us love and protection. Teachers who helped us gain knowledge. Physicians who guarded or restored our health. Friends who offered sympathy in time of need. Co-workers who carried our load when we weren’t able to carry it ourselves. But too often the debt is never acknowledged. We may be grateful, but gratitude—like love—isn’t much good unless expressed.
The discipline for Thursday is to make a sharply focused effort to express gratitude. Again take paper and pencil. Make a list of ten persons still living to whom you are most indebted for past favors or kindnesses. Then choose three and write each one a note, saying that you are grateful to them, and telling exactly why.
No matter who it is, your message will light a glow in their hearts —and rekindle one in your own.
Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17
There is a diet in which one of the requirements is to drink eight glasses of water daily. Without the repetition of that simple act eight times a day, the diet does not work as it should. Repetition has its value in developing spiritual awareness, too. Often the mind is resistant to an idea expressed only once. But if it is exposed to that idea over and over again, a deep penetration can result.
The discipline for Friday is to write down some favorite prayer or Scripture. Then on eight separate occasions during the day find time—or make time—to meditate for five minutes on what you have written down. What do the words say to you? Is there a deeper message? Think!
A still, small voice. I Kings 19:12
In this clangorous age there are few oases of quietness. Yet a deep inner quietness is necessary if we are to hear what the Bible calls the still, small voice. Because Saturday is usually a nonworking day, it is a good day to ponder the importance of quiet, and to reach for it.
The best time, usually, is early morning, before breakfast, before anything ruffles the sleep-calmed surface of the mind. Solitude is essential. Silence helps. Surroundings should be familiar. Physical relaxation in a comfortable place is important.
Read something for a few minutes not concerned with daily affairs. Poetry is good. The Bible is better. Don’t try to analyze what you are reading; just accept it. When you feel you have reached a certain level of calmness, close the book. Close your eyes. Surrender to the quiet. Go as deep as you can into the silence. Then come back out and face the day.
Praise the Lord, O my soul. Psalms 146:1
Sunday is a day to rest from work and disciplines. The wisest Man Who ever lived took one day off in seven. So should you.
Go to church. Thank God for all the miracles the sum of which represents your life. Think back over the experiments of the week just past. Ask yourself if you have noticeably changed for the better. Give yourself an honest answer. But don’t be discouraged. After Sunday comes Monday. And another seven days.