The Noncompliant Patient
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26
As a physician, it can be frustrating when a patient comes in, asking for help with some malady, and then completely ignores all instruction. Maybe the patient won’t take his medication as prescribed, or perhaps he just wanted a pill and isn’t willing to make the necessary changes to his lifestyle. He wants his cough gone, but he’s not willing to quit smoking. Whatever it is, we call this patient noncompliance – when a patient seeks help, but then won’t follow through with medical advice.
Incidentally, as a physician, I’m prone to being noncompliant myself. When it’s me who is the patient, I find it difficult to follow someone else’s instruction because I’m a doctor and I know better. There’s always a good justification for me not complying with directions. If I truly want my physician’s help though, I must listen to what he or she says.
This is not altogether unlike our relationship the Holy Spirit. If we’ve put our faith in Christ, we have the Spirit of God living in us. Paul repeatedly explained though, that we’re not yet made perfect. We still retain the flaws and weaknesses of our flesh nature. In today’s passage, Paul said the Spirit is in us, ready to help us in those weaknesses.
The mistake I’ve made, is to think of this as a passive process. I believe God’s Spirit is in me, changing me. So, I can sit back and let him do his thing. I’ll do my thing and if he wants to transform my desires and appetites, he can. Until then, my behavior won’t change.
That, however, is spiritual noncompliance. As Christians, we must daily to go to God, asking what it is that is making us sick – distracting us from following him. Then, we must do whatever it is that he asks, cutting that thing out of our lives, so that we may know and follow him better. The Spirit supernaturally assists us with this – as long as we’re following his direction. We don’t get to continue following ourselves, being noncompliant, while enjoying his transforming help. If we want God’s help, we must seek and follow his Spirit’s direction.
Our doctor doesn’t force us to do anything. If we want to get better, we must follow. The Spirit, likewise, is there to supernaturally help us in our struggles. We though, must daily follow God – reading, praying, meditating, obeying – if we truly desire to know the life for which he’s made us.