Sanctification, part 7: God's Word in every nook and cranny
Sanctification: that big Bible word means to be set apart for God or to be made holy. From Jesus' prayer in John 17, we learn that sanctification comes through the Word of God (John 17:17) because God's Word is Truth. As we put the Word of God constantly before us, filling our minds with it, we begin to understand the way God intended our lives to work when He created them. We also begin to see the lies of our culture and our own wrong ways of thinking.
James 1:21-25 compares God's Word to a mirror. As we look into "the perfect law of liberty," the Word of God, we see ourselves in the light of God's Truth. We see ourselves for who we really are. If we will not turn away from what we see but allow it to change us, or as verse 21 says, if we will "receive with meekness the implanted word," it is "able to save our souls." Romans 10:17 echoes this same truth: "So then faith [salvation] comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
One of the key words in James 1:25 is continues. We have to continually be in God's Word and allow it to have its effect deep down within us. We have to keep looking into His mirror. Don't we have to look daily—even several times a day—into a physical mirror to take care of our physical bodies? Our souls need the same daily awareness, even multiple times a day.
That means we need to find ways to get the Word of God before us throughout the day. How do we fit that in to our already full, busy lives? It starts, of course, by making it a priority: setting aside specific time to be with our Heavenly Father, reading His Word. One person in our church has made this commitment: No Bible, no breakfast. You may not be able to do that with your particular life circumstances, but you can make a commitment to be in the Bible every day.
But there are many other ways to get the Word of God in and around the busyness and obligations of life. I like to think of it as filling all the little nooks and crannies of our lives with God's Word. Here are some ideas: One of my daughters writes a Scripture verse on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. That way, every time we wash our hands or do anything in front of the sink, we have the opportunity to wash our minds with Truth from God's Word. It's refreshing! Sometimes I try to memorize a Bible verse in the morning then repeat it over several times while I'm getting ready for the day.
When you're driving is a good time to meditate on God's Word. Go over verses you've learned and pray over them. Use them to pray for others. When you're washing dishes or fixing meals, your mind can be occupied with God's Word. Put an open Bible or a hymnbook above your kitchen sink, and read snatches of it as you're working. Think about the daily tasks you do that don't require mental energy, and use that time to train your mind to think on God's Word instead of focusing on troubling, anxious thoughts. In moment-by-moment ways, we allow the Word of God to steadily drip into our lives and transform us.
Sanctification by the Word of God works like the story of the little boy whose grandfather asked him take a fishing basket down to the river and bring up some water. The boy dutifully took the basket and ran down to the river to fill it up. As he drew the basket out of the water, he carefully lifted it, walking slowly so as not to spill the water. At first he struggled under the weight of the full basket to bring it back to the house, but all along the way the water leaked out between the cracks of the woven basket. By the time he got to the house, the water was all gone. He ran back to the river to try again. This time he walked faster. Yet, by the time he got to the house, the water again had all leaked out. Time after time he went back to the river, attempting to obey his grandfather, before he finally gave up, totally discouraged. In tears, he brought the empty basket to his grandfather and confessed that he couldn't do it. His grandfather smiled, took the basket from the boy, and showed him the inside of the basket. The once dirty, smelly basket was completely clean. That had been the grandfather's purpose all along.
We may often feel that the time we spend in the Bible is not having much of an effect. Most days our daily reading or daily memorization of God's Word may seem dull and routine, uninspired with no great "revs." It may feel very dutiful and rote, and the enemy of our souls may even accuse us inwardly of legalism, of trying to win God's favor by this means, or of the worthlessness of it all. We still see our own sinful propensities, we know the inner thoughts of our hearts, and we become discouraged that we're not "holding the water." But like the little boy's basket, the Word of God is doing its work of cleansing as we allow it to run through our lives, though it may be imperceptible to us at the time.
Don't let the enemy of your soul tempt you to stop putting the Word of God into your life. Rather, look for more opportunities to spend time in the Bible, to fill the nooks and crannies of your life with His Word. What ways are you finding to get God's Word into your life?