Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art. Thy tears are womanish. Thy wild acts denoteThe unreasonable fury of a beast.Unseemly woman in a seeming man, and ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!Thou hast amazed me.
-from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
A common parental technique, which I’m no fan of, shames a kid by contrasting what he’s doing to who he is.
I understand the frustration churning behind statements like “Are you a boy? Then act like one!” or “Are you 12 instead of 3? Then act like it!” When a child’s behavior doesn’t match his age, aggravation’s inevitable.
Still, there’s a difference between demeaning and appealing. “Grow up!” demeans, since the very phrase has a sneering quality. “You’re better than that, so I want you to act like it” has the same essential message minus the insult. An appeal to maturity, based on a recognition of the child’s age and potential, is better.
That how my Heavenly Father does it with us. In Ephesians 4:1 He appeals to us through Paul, who said:
“I beseech therefore you that you walk worthy of the vocation to which you’re called.”
The word he chose for “vocation” denotes both an invitation and, according to Strong’s Concordance, a “calling aloud of a title or name.”
Which brings to mind another of Paul’s inspired declarations about us:
“And ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10)
“Complete” here is the English form a the Greek word meaning “filled to the top, lacking nothing.”
So thus saith the Lord: You are holy and complete, filled to the brim, seated in heavenly places as a joint heir with Christ to all that God is and has for you. So act like it!
I hear that appeal today, just as I’ll hear other voices asking me to distract from my true calling and indulge my flesh. I’ll get stressed, bored, depressed, angry, and in response want to do something to medicate or entertain myself. At that time Paul’s admonition will remind me of three things.
First, this is not the real me.
A guy who entertains unclean thoughts, flirts with a co-worker, laughs at a dirty joke, gossips or lashes out at others is hardly “filled to the top; lacking nothing.” So when tempted I’ll remind myself not just of the wrongness of the thing beckoning to me, but also of the genuine nature placed in me that He has called complete.
Second, the desire is real; the message is false.
That is to say, my desire to briefly comfort myself with something unhealthy is genuine, but the invitation coming along with it, in sharp contrast to the invitation to walk worthily, is patently false. Temptation doesn’t just say “Come closer.” It also promises a reward; something lasting and beneficial.
But it never delivers. Good grief, if I purchased any product promising positive results only to get bad ones, I’d never be stupid enough to keep coming back for more of the same. Why, then, should I be any less intelligent when dealing with the promises of the flesh?
Third, the other desire is real, and its message is true.
While I’m the first to say I at times desire the wrong, I also hugely desire the true, the holy, the eternal. And the promises coming alongside the invitation to indulge that desire are indeed true, as I’ve tested them and found them accurate. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace”, Paul said (Romans 8:6) and I know that when I invest in that mindset, then the product truly delivers, because to make choices in harmony with God’s will is to be true to the new nature He’s given us. I’m a chip off the old Rock in that sense, my Father’s son who, if you look real hard, looks somewhat like Him in some ways, more like Him in others, not nearly enough like Him in any.
But it’s not over, and another day – this one – is proof. So today we ask for strength, Lord and Father, having been told what we are, to then act like it, walk like it, be it. There is truly no other way to peace and strength in this life, nor to the immeasurable rewards You’ve promised in the next.