Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Editing Your Life

Editing

by Dennis Pollock

Because writing is such a big part of my ministry, I have come to have a great deal of respect for the process of editing. Self-editing is a part of that process. I never publish an article as I have written it in its initial form. As impressive as the words, thoughts, and phrases may seem to me when they come initially, it is amazing how many changes are obviously necessary when I sit down and read the finished work. And often if I give it a little time and then go back and read the article again, more changes scream out for my attention.

The most painful part of editing, as far as I am concerned, are the cuts which must be made. I set a goal for the maximum number of words for most of my articles. I often go well over this goal in order to finish an article and then later must come back and trim the words to fit the desired length. It hurts a great deal! These words, ideas, and illustrations are my babies, and I can hardly bear to part with any of them. I don't mind changing them a bit to sound better, but to cut them out entirely is agonizing. Sometimes I will delete a paragraph or an illustration and then immediately re-paste it, and look for some other places to make my cuts. Most of the time what I am cutting is not bad or even irrelevant – it is just something that doesn't support the main idea of the message as well as the other parts.

As I have considered this business of editing it occurred to me that our Heavenly Father calls us to edit our lives as well as our writing. The first and most basic edit happens to us when we are born again. Implied within the command to repent is the willingness to remove the parts of our life that are not pleasing to God. Fornication, lying, stealing, greed, anger, and unforgiveness must be cut out of our lives through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The adulterer who gets saved does not become a born-again adulterer; the liar who receives Christ does not become a sanctified liar; the wife-beater cannot now call himself a Spirit-filled wife-beater. The Bible declares: "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:17,18).

Most Christians can accept the idea of sin being "edited out" of our lives. But what we sometimes fail to see is that, if we are to be the fruitful, productive believers we are called to be, sin is not the only thing that requires editing. Perhaps the classic Bible passage which best deals with this is found in Hebrews:

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Not only must ensnaring sins be laid aside, but weights as well. And not only some weights, but every weight! Weights are not evil in themselves; they can in fact be very nice, very attractive parts of our lives which have only one negative aspect to them – they slow us down in our spiritual race. They lessen, rather than enhance, our walk with Christ and our ministry in the Spirit. They are nowhere condemned specifically in the Scriptures, and yet if we are sensitive to the Spirit of Christ, we find Him whispering softly that we must lay them down if we are ever to come into the promised land of the fullness of God's will and plan for us.

Making Time

One class of weights which nearly every Christian must deal with are the time-wasters. In the realm of money, financial experts identify two basic types of spending: discretionary spending vs. mandatory spending. Mandatory spending relates to expenditures which you absolutely must make. You must pay your rent, you must pay your electric bill, you must buy food, and so forth. If you are in financial trouble and are looking for ways to reduce your spending, these areas are really not the place to look. No, what you need to examine are your discretionary spending habits. These are purchases you regularly make that you could easily live without.

Likewise, in the realm of time, there are discretionary and mandatory expenditures. Most of us must work eight or more hours a day at a job. We must spend time eating meals with our family and we must do certain chores and tasks in order to keep our household running smoothly. But in nearly every life there are pockets of time that are not at all necessities. God is not a harsh taskmaster demanding that we spend every spare minute of our time reading the Bible and praying. He created us, and knows full well that we all need hobbies, and innocent pursuits that give us pleasure. The question is not whether we are allowed such things, but whether we have so stuffed our schedules full of them that we have scheduled the Holy One of Israel out of our lives. The answer is not difficult to discover. We simply ask ourselves, "Do I have a real prayer life?" "Do I spend time with the Lord in His word every day?" "Am I giving God a pathetic, scrawny little piece of my leftover time, or does He hold a prominent place in both my life and my daily schedule?" If television and movies and trips to the mall and sports events and mindless internet surfing and video games are taking huge chunks of your discretionary time, and prayer and Bible reading are nearly non-existent in your typical days, some serious editing needs to take place in your life. If you can list several hobbies without much thought, but are in a state of confusion when someone asks you to name some type of ministry with which Christ has entrusted you, editing is needed.

Religious Editing

Sometimes the people most blind to the need of editing in their lives are the super-religious folks. Many Christians fill their lives with Bible studies, church activities, watching Christian television shows, attending home groups, spending time in Christian chat-rooms, and so forth. Because nearly everything they do has a Christian connotation, they cannot imagine there would ever be the need to give up any of these things. And yet in some cases they run themselves ragged with all their Christian busyness, while their souls and spirits are becoming more and more dry and parched. At times they neglect their families "in the name of the Lord." While surrounding themselves with Christians and Christian activities, their walk with God is suffering. Like Martha, they are "worried and troubled about many things." We need to learn from Mary that time at the feet of the Master is time well spent.

Another situation that calls for editing is the compulsion of some believers to involve themselves in any and every ministry opportunity available. They have their hand in too many pies, they give themselves to far too many endeavors and never hone their skills in any one of them. Imagine how much harm would have been done if Billy Graham had determined to be an evangelist – and a pastor, and a television talk show host, and a singer, and run for political office, and to sell used cars on the side. Like the apostle Paul, Billy's theme was "this one thing I do." He preached as an evangelist in countless cities all over the world, preaching many of the same sermons over and over again, telling the people in the top rows of the stadiums that the buses would wait for them, letting the inquirers know that he would have a prayer with them, that they would receive some literature, and then they could go back to their loved ones. He never tired of saying these same words and doing this same ministry. Billy found something he could do pretty well, something the Holy Spirit seemed pleased to help him with, and he just kept doing it again and again, decade after decade. And how the world has been enriched because he refused to dilute his life and ministry with non-essentials!

Heavenly Editor

When I am in the process of publishing a full-length book, I work with a skilled editor. He goes over every page of the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, looking not only to correct typos, but to make changes which will make the book more understandable, attractive, and fluent. After he does his work, the book is returned to me with the changes noted, for my final approval. In most cases I am content to accept his recommended changes. This man is a professional who is highly knowledgeable about publishing and can provide an intelligent, unbiased assessment of how the book should read. I am happy to have his input.

Pruning grapesIn the believer's life we have a "professional" Editor who knows His business very, very well. Jesus said:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1,2)

Often, God will encourage us to make the changes ourselves, by the power of His Spirit, but in other situations He will do the pruning for us. Friends, jobs, relationships, and comfort zones that were such a blessing in the past will be unceremoniously cut out of our lives in a moment, without our permission and with no advance warning. But whether He takes it on Himself or asks us to do the job, the editing (pruning) process is something that will become familiar to every Christian. Every fruit-bearing branch is sure to be pruned.

Good editing always strengthens and improves the final product. It may seem cruel to make all the cuts and changes, but in the end they produce excellence. Lopping off hundreds of words from the first draft of my articles makes them more concise and to the point. In making movies, filmmakers always shoot far more scenes and footage than can possibly be used. After the shooting is complete, the director works with the editor to determine what can remain and what must be sacrificed. As with much in life, less is often more. In Christian writing the goal is never to produce the longest article, the most ponderous novel, or the thickest book on the bookstore shelves. It is to say effectively, concisely, and in an engaging manner the message God has placed on your heart.

In our personal lives, our goal must not be to pack the most activities into each twenty-four hour day that we possibly can, so that we can boast of how busy we are and impress others. Nor as Christians should it be to attend the most Bible studies or sit down to the greatest number of fellowship dinners. We must determine with exact precision the nature of the calling of Jesus Christ on our lives, and lay aside every weight that would hinder or retard our progress toward the fulfillment of that calling.

When it became necessary for the apostles to deal with distributing food to the church widows, they were unwilling to leave their calling, and instead asked the church to provide others for the task. They stated: "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God… we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:2,4). Knowing their calling to preach Christ and minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, they wisely chose to stay with the activities that related directly to that calling. The power and anointing with which they ministered vindicated their decision.

Even our Lord Jesus was required to strictly edit His life and ministry. With His anointed miracle and teaching ministry, He could have made a huge splash in all the world. But He refused to go beyond the boundaries of the little nation of Israel. He could have become friends with kings and emperors, but chose instead to befriend widows and fishermen. He knew that in time His ministry would touch the whole world, but while on the earth He strictly limited Himself to the field His Father had placed before Him. May He give us the wisdom and the courage to follow His call and cut out of our lives anything and everything that would in the least manner hinder our service to Him.

For a full listing of all devos (written and audio) go to our Devos Catalog Page.

     

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