What fuels our work?

March 2017

Through him we received grace… to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith – Romans 1:5

I know a guy who stopped to help someone with car trouble. The car wouldn’t start. Was the battery dead? No, the headlights worked fine. They opened the hood, but couldn’t see a problem. Just when they were going to call a tow truck, someone asked, “Have you checked the fuel?” My friend jogged to a gas station, filled up a small gas can, and took it back to the car.

When they poured gas in the tank, the engine started like a charm. It had simply run out of gas. In our life with God, and our life with each other, we can run out of gas.

L. Moody, the American evangelist, was once asked “Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?” “Yes,” he said, “but I leak!” We all leak. So we constantly need filling up.

What fuels your work? What gets you up in the morning, and keeps you going? The Apostle Paul invites us into the obedience that comes from faith. He calls us into work that is fuelled by faith.

How is that different from obedience fuelled by fear? When we’re fuelled by fear, we obey whatever power holds sway over us: fear of failing, of being hurt; fear of letting others down, of the unknown, or of a bully—fears motivate us to act in certain ways. Obedience that comes from fear leaves us tense. It’s a deer-in-the-headlights mindset.

Some obedience stems from pride. We obey our own egos. We work like crazy to build a reputation, or because we’re sure that no one else will do it right. There are other motivators. But God invites us into obedience that comes from faith.

God calls us to work out of trust in his goodness, faithfulness, and love. Faith-obedience grows out of a relationship with God: knowing God enough that we really trust him. Knowing God enough that we discern what he’s calling us to do, and not do.

If we drive a car, we develop the habit of refilling our car gas tank before it runs dry. When we follow Jesus, there are life habits to help us receive the fuel that the Holy Spirit wants to give.

As we head into Lent this month, I invite you to cultivate three habits:

  • Weekly Sabbath: Rest reminds us that we’re not indispensible. The world will keep turning, without our input.
  • Daily prayer: Contemplating God’s goodness. Seeking God’s help for our people.  Inviting God to search our hearts and lead us.
  • Reading the Bible: not just information, but for life-fuel.

These spiritual habits are not a Christian self-improvement plan. They position us to receive God’s gift. They make room for the Holy Spirit to work. They are like the gas-can holding the fuel to fill us up.

Great habits often start out small. Baby steps. The habit of prayer. The habit of Sabbath rest. The habit of reading God’s Word. Some habits make us miserable. But the habits of the Holy Spirit re-fuel us, and bring us life.