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Godly Character Is Formed in the Little Moments

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    (Photo: Paul Tripp)
By Paul Tripp, CP Guest Columnist
November 11, 2012|8:15 am

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge that I may tell of all your works" (Psalm 73:28).

It is a grace to get it right, because so often I get it wrong. No, I don't mean that I fall into gross and willing sin, and I don't mean that I am seduced by the old arguments of new atheism. No, I don't mean that I occasionally question the tenets of my faith or question whether ministry is really worth it. No, getting it wrong is much more subtle. Getting it wrong is not about the big, dramatic, consequential moments of life. No, getting it wrong is much more about the little mundane moments of everyday life.

It's easy to let up your guard and be all too relaxed in these moments precisely because they are little. It's also tempting to minimize the wrong choices that you make in these little moments. But the opposite is true. The little moments of life are profoundly important because they are little. Little moments are the ones we live in every day. The character and course of a person's life isn't set in three or four grand, significant moments. No, the character of a person's life is shaped in 10,000 little moments. You carry the character formed in the mundane into those rare consequential moments of life.

The last verse of Psalm 73 is a manual on getting it right, so it also instructs us on what it looks like to get it wrong. Getting it right means acknowledging God's presence, remembering his rescue, and obeying his call.

Acknowledging God's Presence

These might be the most important words to have constantly ringing in the ears of your heart: "it is good to be near God." "Near God" is something you could never have earned, deserved, or personally achieved. "Near God" is the exact opposite of where sin takes you. "Near God" brought Jesus to earth and required him to die. "Near God" restores to you what sin destroyed and what only grace can restore. "Near God" is where you were designed to live.

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Grace has brought you close to God once again. Grace means he's in you and you're in him. Grace has made it impossible for you to be alone. God's greatest gift to you is himself! But you and I don't always acknowledge his presence. There are moments in life when we get it wrong, where we live as if he doesn't exist. When we act as if he's distant we panic in the face of the normal difficulties of life in this fallen world and in the face of the perplexities of God's sovereign plan. Or else we fall into trying to do God's job, and in so doing, complicate our lives all the more. Does your daily living celebrate that grace has brought you near to God and God near to you?

Remembering God's Rescue

But we often forget that grace has given us refuge. We forget that God welcomes us to run to him. So we run for refuge to the creation rather than the Creator and when we do, we never get the solace we are seeking. We may successfully numb or distract ourselves for a while, but our hearts aren't strengthened or encouraged. The replacement refuges of people and things can't relieve, only distract us from our burdens, so we have to return to them repeatedly. We never end up strengthen and encouraged. We only end up fat, addicted, and indebted. Are you getting it right? When you're weak, weary, and discouraged, do you run to the one refuge who can deliver peace?

Obeying God's Call

Getting it right is also about answering his call and remembering that God gives you himself and his grace to fulfill that calling, not so you can build a kingdom of your own design. "That I may tell of his works" says it very well. No longer do I live for the glory of getting what I want, indulging what I feel, and satisfying my needs. I now live with the recognition that I've been sovereignly gifted and positioned so that all that I do and say points to the one glory that can satisfy their hearts. I look for opportunities to point to his work as Creator, his work as sovereign, and his work as Savior.

Sadly, I don't always get it right. Often I live as if there were few things as important as my schedule, plans, comfort, and success. Where the rubber meets the road in daily life, I put myself in the center of my world and forget that place had been reserved for God alone. When I make it all about me, I live in low-grade frustration and irritation. I miss the daily opportunities that God gives me to connect with something vastly bigger and fundamentally better. Are you concretely living for something bigger than your daily agenda?

Because of God's grace, we often get it right. But because of remaining sin, we so often get it wrong. In which place are you living today? May your hands be productive because in your heart you get it right: God is near, he is my refuge, and I will obey his call.

Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization that is "connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Paul is also a professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas (TX) and the executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth (TX). Paul has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. His newest book, "Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry" will be released in the fall. For more information about Paul and his ministry, visit www.paultripp.com.
 

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