Is God Working On You Or In You?

If you are pushed along in your walk with God, hounded with guilt or the possibly that you are not doing enough for God, and you think that maybe Jesus walks softly but carries a big stick (Something on the order of Moses’ rod), you can sit back and take a deep breath.

Hear what Paul has to say about it in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

You, of course, noticed the word "in" and not "on." To use an analogy, Jesus isn’t washing your car; he is working on the engine. His purpose is to mold and shape your heart not beat you into submission. We are to revere God not treat him as an angry tyrant. While in Korea, I knew a Colonel who was so scary that when soldiers heard his helicopter coming they would run and hide. Jesus says about himself in Matthew 11:29, “. . . I am gentle and humble in heart. . .”

Unfortunately, we are more apt to listen to the voices in our head versus the voice of the spirit in our hearts. Between experiences and the words or actions of others, we have an inexhaustible supply of toxic junk from which to draw. If by chance some of that data came from the church, it has a better chance of impacting our faith journey.

Performance driven churches or ministries often support the notion that God is working “on" us because external things are easier to measure. I was once in leadership in a church where if the minister’s ideas and desires were not supported, it was “because of a lack of faith,” and you were invited to pick up your basket of guilt on the way out the door.

God’s purpose is to conform us “to the image of His Son” not to manipulate us with false guilt.  Colossians 1:27 tells us that “Christ in you is the hope of glory.” It does not read, “Christ behind us with a whip.”

Without the Word of God, we would be left with all those other human voices rather than a knowledge that comes from God. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says it so well. “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together––spirit, soul, and body––and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it.”  

Add to that 2 Corinthians 4:16, “So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”

At this point you might be thinking, “Wait just a minute! There are several examples in Scripture of God doing outside work." You are absolutely right with one major distinction. God reserves the right to work on the circumstances of those who are in rebellion against Him. If it happens to be His children, He may work there until we are willing to hear Him in our inner man.

Jack Purcell is a retired Army LTC and had a second career at two different Universities as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. In between he twice served in leadership roles in two different Exchanged Life Offices. He now lives with his wife Mary in Boerne TX where he writes a weekly column in the Boerne Star, called On The Journey.