I asked myself a question just now. Am I holier today than I was last year because someone told me “Love God more” or because someone told me “You’re sinning by ____. You ought to ____”? Without thinking for longer than a second, I instantly knew that the answer was the latter. There are concrete areas and sins that I encountered this year. There are definite methods and disciplines that I reacted with in order to pursue holiness.
Abstract realities like “loving God more” fail when you don’t take the next step. Even Christ told us that those who love Him, obey Him. Very simple question: How do you obey Christ? How might someone tell you to obey Christ? It is with concrete verses, actions, thoughts, and words. It is “Do ___. Don’t do ___.” It is listening to and applying the “Four ways to ___.” It is not simply thinking to yourself, “I ought to love God more.” Why? Because you are not loving God more by not taking pains to discipline yourself for the point of godliness.
It is like building a house. Who lays down a foundation for his house and then stops construction? Who simply looks at the foundation and says, “What a great foundation this is. I bet my house will be very nice.” Do you think that your house will be amazing? No. If you do not build your house on top of your foundation, then you will have no house. No matter how great your foundation is. No matter whether your foundation is a solid rock or sand.
An interesting note: remember the builders at the end of Matthew 7? One thing that both of them did is that they built their house. No, that’s not the focus of the passage at all, but the point remains. They built! They did not look at the solid rock or the sand and say, “What a lovely foundation. I love it. I will love it more.”
I end this note with a warning. Have I said that the foundation is not important? By no means. In fact, the foundation is the most important thing. The foundation is the difference between the two builders of Matthew 7. However, having a foundation without a building is useless.
So, check your foundation. Are you building based on your foundation? Are you building at all? Or are you restricting yourself from taking any action towards holiness because you deceive yourself? Do not think: “I’m in a relationship with Christ. There shouldn’t be rules. I just have to love God more.” Brother, loving God more is following rules! But it is not only rules. It is following rules because you are in a relationship with Christ. That is what you must remember.
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)