Breaking the Spirit of Passivity

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and to have dominion (see Genesis 1:26-28). These are not passive words; they are active words, words filled with energy, vitality and even force. People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature. They are active in their pursuit of Christ and Christlikeness. They are intentional in following God’s plan for their lives, having great marriages, raising their children, and in seeking to demonstrate God’s love for others.

Passivity is a problem that began in the Garden of Eden, and, in my view, is sometimes a problem in the church. God specifically told Adam and Eve to rule over the fish and the birds and over everything that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28). Shortly thereafter, Satan came to them masquerading as a creepy, crawling, crafty serpent. The first thing Adam and Eve should have thought is – God told us to take dominion over this creature.

As soon as that serpent opened its mouth with deceit, they should have spoken to the serpent with authority and told it to be quiet! Perhaps even better, they should have picked up a rock and smashed it in the head. God gave the earth to Adam and Eve and not to Satan and Satan did not belong. Instead, they were struck by the blow of sin and Jesus had to come to crush the head of Satan by the cross.

Interestingly, the Bible says that when Eve was deceived and ate of the fruit she gave some to Adam, “who was with her” (Genesis 3:6, NIV). The dude sat by and watched his wife get attacked by Satan and did nothing about it. Instead, he became a partaker in the sin. God gave them a beautiful garden to live in which certainly provided for many opportunities for relaxation and contentment. But their contentment was not to warp into lethargic living. Their inaction was actually disobedience to God’s direct command. 

There are sins of commission and omission. There are things God commands us to do and things He commands us not to do. The active commands are far more thrilling than the inactive – be fruitful, fill, multiply, subdue, take dominion. That’s sounds like a lot more fun than “don’t eat from this tree.” If they had set their minds on doing the things God had called them to do, they would not have been lured into the enemy’s trap because they would have been busy about their Father’s work.

In contrast, when Jesus walked the earth he actively lived out God’s commands by his fruitful life of love, filling others with God’s healing power, multiplying through making disciples, subduing the forces of darkness as He drove out demons, and taking dominion by advancing God’s kingdom wherever he went. Jesus was not passive. He was active about His Father’s work.

People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature.

It is sometimes our inaction that gets us into trouble more than our actions. As the old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground.” What got King David into trouble is when he took time away from the battle field and in his bored solitude was lured into the temptation to commit adultery. His place was on the battle field. I believe there was actually a demonic spirit sent to lure David into a slumbering condition. The king became prey because of a passive moment in his normally otherwise fierce life (see 2 Samuel 11).

God has called each of us to be on the battle field. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Of course, there are times to rest and relax, to vacation, but we cannot let our guard down when it is time to fight. If we will not actively resist the enemy, we will be devoured by him. There’s no middle ground.

Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to advance. Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV). We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We have been given authority over all the power of the enemy. We trample snakes and scorpions and every wicked thing (see Luke 10:19). We should be an advancing church not an idle church. Yes, we will face resistance, but that is when we need to grow stronger and “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (Psalm 110:2, NIV).

Contentment is not passivity. Passivity is not contentment.

The time leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion is called His passion week. We don’t call it Jesus’ inaction week. Even in laying down his life in submission to his Father’s will, Jesus was not passive. He was passionate. What are you passionate about? We need to break off the spirit of passivity and begin to advance boldly and passionately for God’s kingdom. 

You are Valuable to God

cross-in-mexico-e1537670483673.jpgYou are valuable to God. He sees past your sins and struggles and sees a person of incredible worth and value. 1 Corinthians 6:20 states that “you were bought at a price.” That price was the precious blood of Jesus. God gave His best for you. Jesus gave His all for you. He gave His all so you can have eternal life with Him in heaven. God wants to spend forever with you, that’s how much He values you.

Imagine being imprisoned in a foreign country with no hope of release or escape. How would you feel if I traded my son to that country in exchange for your life so you could return to the United States? It would be hard for me to do that. In fact, I probably would not! I love my son so much, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He is precious and valuable to me. But this is exactly what God did for you and me. He exchanged His Son so we could be purchased from the enemy’s prison.

Several years ago, the Lord reminded me of a rummage sale that my mom and I went to when I was a boy. As I recall, we drove out of town to a small building that was filled with clothes and perhaps other sundry items. We rummaged through lots of clothes to find something worth purchasing. The stuff was discarded  by someone, but we hoped to find something that would be useful for us. When the Lord reminded me of this, I felt the Lord speak to me, “love her like you loved that rummage sale.” At that time, I was dating a girl while in Bible school (whom I did not end up marrying), but I believe God was actually speaking to me about my future wife.

When God brought Leslie and I together, she had some “junk” in her life (and I did too). We both brought hurts from the past and anger into our marriage. Marriage has been a healing journey for us, and we’re still on that journey. Yet, God has called me to see past her problems and see her heart, to value her because she is valuable to Him. Often Leslie has to look past my problems and see my heart as well.

God sees past the junk in our lives and sees that within us that is of value. God sees the heart. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). My wife has a heart of gold, a beautiful heart full of love and generosity. Will I love her on the basis of her problems or will I love her on the basis of the value God places upon her?

This is how God loves us. He doesn’t look at our problems, hurts, or bad attitudes. He looks at us through the lens of the blood of Jesus. He looks at us based on the value He has placed on us. He looks past the “junk” in our lives – the sins, mistakes, wounds, and failures – and sees a person of incredible value and worth. His love makes us valuable. His grace makes us beautiful. He gives us “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).

I Peter 1:18-19 says,

“you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

God gave His best and Jesus gave His all for you – you are valuable to God!

Assignment:  Read Ephesians 1:15-23 and make a list of who you are in Christ. Spend 15-30 minutes this evening, before you go to bed, meditating on these truths and confessing them over your life.

Your Identity in Christ



Have you ever felt overlooked or marginalized by others?

Even if not intentional, sometimes others fail to see our potential. One time, I requested a job promotion for a position I thought had opened up. After about four months of waiting and seeing the position had not been filled, I discovered that I needed to speak with the President of the company to find out why I had not been given the position. So, I requested a meeting with him.

In the meeting, I learned that although the supervisor of the department wanted me in the position, the President did not or was at least resistant to the idea. I had been with the company for over ten years, had worked hard and was excellent in my work, and felt that I deserved the promotion. I made my case and he gave me the promotion. It felt good that I got what I wanted, but I also felt a bit hurt and rejected. My supervisor believed in me a great deal and saw my potential, but the President did not. What I’ve learned is that some people, no matter how well I do or how hard I try, won’t believe in me or see my potential.

I’ve learned that what others think about me is not that important. I need to be open to listening to constructive criticism and be willing to receive correction, but what is most important is what God thinks about me. And thankfully God has placed other people in my life who do believe in me.

There’s no doubt that the words of others can hurt, but the most important words in our lives are the words of God. Even if everyone else says you don’t matter, God says you do. If God says you matter, then it doesn’t matter what other people think.

Once, after going through a long season of personal testing, the Lord told me that I had passed the test. Honestly, I did not feel like I had passed the test. But God clearly told me that I had passed. I have learned that if God says “yes” when I feel “no”, “yes” it is! So, in addition to placing God’s words above those of others, we also have to place God’s words over our own self-opinion.

Sometimes we can think of ourselves more highly than we ought (see Rom. 12:3). In this case, we need to temper our self-opinion with the truth of God’s word. Often, however, we think too low of ourselves and we need to elevate our self-thinking based on what God says about us.

Romans 14:4 says,

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

When you one day stand before God in heaven, what others have said about you will not matter. What will matter is what God says about you. This the way we should live our lives – with a humble estimation of ourselves and with a confidence in who we are in Christ. Jesus was wholly confident in who He was as God’s Son but also lived humbly, knowing He could do nothing without the Father (John 5:19).

As a new dad myself, I want to speak positive words over my son. I want to call forth his purpose and destiny in Christ. I want him to know that I believe in him and his potential. He’s just a little guy right now, but all of God’s potential is presently in him, it just needs to be developed. I don’t want to hold him back. I want to give him opportunities to grow and fulfill his purpose. I want to provide instruction and discipline to help guide him in the right direction. Most importantly, I want him to know that he is loved and that I am proud of him. Our Father in heaven feels the same way about you. He loves you and believes in you. Even if you feel poorly about yourself, He is proud of you!

I have found it helpful to declare out loud who I am in Christ. Declaring what God says about me in His Word increases my confidence in Him and reminds me that I am loved and accepted even if I feel unloved. I want to challenge you to take some time to declare God’s word over your life. Sit by your beside or sofa or pace the floor in your room and declare God’s promises over your life. Absorb the truth of God’s word deep into your soul, let your identity in Christ become ingrained in your soul and spirit.

Assignment:  Read Ephesians Chapter 1:1-14. Make a list regarding your identity in Christ (for example, “I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ” or “I am adopted as God’s son or daughter”, etc.). Also, make a list of qualities of God’s character (for example, “God is full of grace” or “God is full of wisdom”, etc.). Spend 30 minutes this evening, meditating on these truths and confessing them over your life.