Stop Sabotaging the Relationship
Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
When life fell apart due to my drug addiction, my marriage was a mess. After I came home from treatment, we lived in the same house, but for quite a while, we lived separate lives. I’d see other couples who appeared happy and I realized that I’d wrecked that for us. If I had any hope of putting things back together, I had to stop sabotaging our relationship. It was unreasonable to expect a healthy relationship while feeding my addiction. If I wanted to enjoy a healthy marriage, I had a lot of work to do. I had to pursue my wife, putting our marriage ahead of my own self-centered nature.
In retrospect, I can see that this was somewhat similar to my relationship with God. I’d always believed in him, and I knew the Bible said that as Christians, God sent his Spirit to help us through life. So, when I found myself stuck in my addiction, I prayed, asking God to miraculously remove my self-destructive appetite. The problem was that I didn’t have a good relationship with God. I’d spent so long running from him, seeking my own will, that it was unreasonable to expect that I should be filled with and changed by his Spirit. I wanted to know God’s transforming power, but I couldn’t experience that while stuffing myself with pills.
In today’s passage, Paul gave a brief command which provided profound insight into our relationship with God. In it, he simply said, Do not quench the Spirit. We’d be mistaken if we thought that God acted in our lives independently of our behavior. Rather, Paul said, our thoughts, actions, and words impact how God works in us. We can have a little of God in us, or we can have a lot. We can be filled with God’s Spirit, or we can be nearly empty. The choice is up to us.
How do I experience a closer relationship with God? It’s not all that different in concept than how I repaired my relationship with my wife. I stopped engaging in behavior that was sabotaging the relationship and I began to work on it. This wasn’t mysterious. I knew what exactly what I needed to do. It’s similar with God. Most of us know how to work on this relationship. We read. We pray. We listen. We do what it takes to stop pursuing those things that turn us away from him. God wants a deeper relationship with us. If we desire, we can have a thriving one that transforms our lives, or we can have a casual one. The choice is up to us and the results will be predictable.