I am a notorious to-do list maker. This is one of the ways I try to keep life under control. If I can put it on paper, I can control it. I like lists. I like them a lot.
I am particularly fond of lists in the Bible. For example, the 10 commandments. This works well for me because the expectations are clearly defined and success is measurable. It says don’t do it, I don’t do it, so I can put a check mark next to that one for the day. Reviewing my progress at the end of the day, I can either congratulate myself on a job well done, or resolve to try harder the next day.
However, I have found that this approach to a relationship with God has a tendency to lead to either a self-righteousness that disregards the true condition of the heart, or an overwhelming despair brought about by the realization that I can never successfully follow the list. Colossians 2:23 says that these regulations are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. No value? None at all? Well then, what is a Type A personality to do?
A genuine faith requires dependence upon the Spirit of God to lead me in my obedience if it is to be a complete, whole hearted obedience. No lists which aid me in gauging my progress. I cannot be trusted to gauge my own progress for I cannot know my own heart. I am too prone to deceive myself in order to soothe my conscience and please my flesh. But the Holy Spirit relentlessly leads me into a depth of obedience beyond what I could ever find by way of a list.
Living by the Spirit many times seems harder. Instead of striking off with my list to get the job done (which is easy for me), I must now begin by waiting and listening. But the rewards of a Spirit led obedience, the depth of transformation it produces, is beyond compare.
So I will sacrifice the list and follow the still, small voice that leads me into a life that produces a harvest of fruitful obedience.