“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and
more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a
weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to
get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your
days free to pursue what God wants instead
of being tyrannized by what you want.”
(I Peter 4:1-2—The Message)
Thoughts… I am going to step out on the limb of vulnerability here and assume that you struggle with sin as much as I do. And like me, you probably read the last line of verse two and said, “Yes! That’s exactly it! I’ve been tyrannized by the selfish, sinful things that I want. I’d rather be ‘tyrannized’ by the things that God wants.”
Of course, the word “tyranny” carries a negative connotation. Yet, is its meaning really that far off from what you want from God as it relates to rulership in your life? Check out this definition:
Tyranny: A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power. The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler. Absolute power.
I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want in my life. I want the righteous, perfect will of God to tyrannize my moment-by-moment, living, sleeping, breathing, eating, thinking, dreaming and doing life! I want the tyranny of the holy in my life.
So how can I personally enter into that kind of dominating, existential rulership of God over me? First off, and very simply, I need to invite God to have that kind of control in my life. Though he is Master of the Universe, he never violates the human will—so I must invite his rule.
Beyond that, there are some other clues here in this fourth chapter of I Peter as to how I can come under the absolute rulership of God:
- I must learn to think like Jesus—particularly in how I think about my temptations and sufferings (verses 1-2, 12-14). He allowed both trial and temptation to draw him more deeply to the Father through prayer. They caused him to become more dependent on God, not more independent. They caused him to become more obedient—if that was even possible.
- I also ought to think once in a while—perhaps a lot—about the judgment of God (verses 3-6, 15-18). I know it’s not popular to think of God as a God of judgment these days, nor to dwell too much on negative thoughts. But the truth remains, God is holy, and there will be a payday for sin someday. That sobering reality, even if it is negative, isn’t a bad motivation to do what is right. It’s shouldn’t be the only motivation, or the first motivation, but I must learn to think of sin in my life as a clear and present danger. Furthermore, there is a positive side to judgment as well—the final reward for resisting temptation, patiently enduring trials, and doing works of righteousness
- Likewise, I need to live with an awareness that the time is drawing near for the Lord’s return (verse 7). Jesus is coming back—perhaps even today. The signs are clear and his promised return is certain. In view of that, Peter says in his second letter, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” He then adds, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (II Peter 3:11-12,14).
- Finally, in between my present challenges and my ultimate destiny, I ought to put Christ-likeness into practice in my daily life (verses 8-10). That means I must love others, even the unlovely, like Jesus did. I must treat everyone as if they were an honored guest in my home—and with a Christlike attitude, no less. And I must marshal all of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power within me to serve others in practical, kind, and God-honoring ways.
That my friend, is how you invite the tyranny of the holy into your life. As you and I increasing allow that kind of dominating rulership to hold sway, the tyranny of selfish, sinful behavior will be the biggest loser.
Prayer… Lord, my humble yet passionate prayer is simply this: Hold absolute sway over my entire being!
One More Thing… “Always seek peace between your heart and God, but in this world, always be careful to remain ever-restless, never satisfied, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.” —Jim Elliot