“For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”
We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions. The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.
The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment. Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly. If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.
One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another. Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God. Where does this come from? If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone. We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.
The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.
While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors. Do they honor God? Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh? If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.
Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One. Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.
Lord, may You increase and may we decrease. Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.