As sincere Christians we recognize corruption as a natural state in the affairs of mankind and that righteousness is a salty antidote. We know righteousness is the mark of one who lives “in the Spirit”. We know we often must choose between what comes naturally and what is against the grain of our natural selves. Yet, in our desire to bring a savory (pleasing by reason of effective seasoning; morally good) flavor to our world, we often find ourselves marching down a frustrating path of strife, legalism and failure.
For some time I’ve been grappling within myself over a relationship that needs “revival”. I’ve prayed and spent many thought-filled hours on the issues. Yet a barrier remains. My “saltiness” has been overpowering and my sweetness impotent. Lord, Lord, what do I do?
In “Keys to the Deeper Life,” A. W. Tozer uses Joshua 7-8, what is often referred to as “the defeat at Ai,” to illustrate this very situation. The army had experienced a resounding and bewildering defeat. The people cried, tore their clothes and prayed fervently. But God rebuked their efforts and told them to prepare to face their sin. Tozer points out that revival cannot take place until there is reform.
Am I ready to reform? Honestly, my initial answer was, “no”; I was adamantly entrenched in my own viewpoint. Then, gradually, I realized that however much I may yearn for revival and however desirous reform may be, I am just not able to reform my own heart. I might go through the motions and do all the right things (tear my clothes, pray, seek revival), but true righteousness is not something I can attain or achieve, no matter how motivated. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” The Apostle Paul said it this way:
“… I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me …. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21-24)
And so I’ve been stuck until a few days ago when it finally hit me: while righteousness is not something I can attain, it is something (someONE) I can make room for - a tweak of semantics with a powerful punch. Making room for the thoughtfulness of the Holy Spirit sends my own thought-filled mind to the backseat. Making room for Jesus to walk beside me allows his righteousness to shape the path out of my entrenched unrighteousness. Making room for God to salt my heart, rather than grasping at the shaker myself, releases the balance of healing antidote I need. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v.25); the reforming of my heart is at hand; I have hope for revival.
Romans 7:24-25 – Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Matthew 11:29-30 – Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.