How to Have “Perfect Calmness of Spirit”

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From our Dear Friend Dr. Jim Denison:

The best advice I’ve ever received

The best advice I’ve ever received is this: always remember the source of your personal worth.

Our culture determines our value by our performance. Beginning in childhood, we are taught that we are what we do, whether on video games, athletic fields, or academic tests.

As we grow older, we value ourselves by what we own. The more unique our possessions, the better.

All the while, our Lord values us by whose we are. Just as the former home of Ted Kennedy is more expensive because he lived there, we are valuable because our Father made us, his Son died for us, and his Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Now we must choose to value ourselves and each day we live as he does.

Why no one “dies”

David prayed, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4). From his prayer we learn this fact: we do not know how fleeting our lives are.

We think we have more time than we do. We are never ready for the end to come, for ourselves or someone we love. Maybe next week or next month, but not today.

Satan works effectively here. He wants us to avoid even the thought of our mortality, lest it direct us from the present to the eternal. And our culture helps with this deception. No one “dies”–they “pass on” or move to a “better place.”

Janet and I recently attended a graveside service for a dear friend who died at the age of ninety-nine. While we will miss her, we were not shocked at her homegoing.

During the service, I watched a young mother following her small boy as he explored the cemetery. If he were to die, his family would be devastated. But he is no less mortal than his now-deceased relative.

How to have “perfect calmness of spirit”

David’s prayer reveals a second fact: we must pray for urgency. Because we are so good at avoiding the concept of mortality, we need the Lord’s help in living each day as if it were our last.

If we will not pray for such insight, we are more likely to waste the only day we have.

But if we ask God to help us maximize this day, he will answer our prayer. He will lead us to live in ways that manifest the character of Jesus (Romans 8:29) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). In a frantic, chaotic culture, he will “fill [us] with all joy and peace” (Romans 15:13).

I recently found this prayer of John Wesley:

Each moment draw from earth away
My heart, that lowly waits thy call;
Speak to my inmost soul, and say,
“I am thy Love, thy God, thy All!”
To feel thy power, to hear thy voice,
To taste thy love, be all my choice.

As a result, Wesley could testify: “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry; because I never undertake any more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.”

Can you say the same?

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Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He is a trusted author and subject matter expert in areas where faith and current events intersect. His Daily Article provides leading insight for discerning today’s news from a biblical perspective.
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