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Everyday Theology - Romans 8:5-13 - Daily Steps

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.

Romans 8:12-14 “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (NLT)

Sweating the Small Stuff

The original intent of the expression, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is great advice. We shouldn’t overreact to common occurrences and get ourselves all worked up over things that don’t have lasting significance. Developed as a motto for stress reduction techniques, the statement was first coined in 1983 by a cardiologist named Robert S. Eliot. It first appeared in print when Dr. Eliot was interviewed by Time magazine for an article about the rising stress levels of Americans. As true and necessary as the concept is behind the expression, this ubiquitous phrase is so often taken out of context that even followers of Jesus can fall prey to using it as an excuse. And as it goes with all excuses, people tend to use them when it’s convenient for their circumstances or particular weaknesses, rather than applying the truth behind them as it was intended. Sometimes, as Christians, we fall prey to the enemy’s lie that the endless flow of God’s grace excuses us from whatever we’ve deemed in our own hearts and minds to be insignificant. And goodness knows, none of us wants to endure the discomfort of re-examining what we’ve previously determined to be a small matter since it might make us question a much longer list of weaknesses. And this insidious and commonly accepted lie is only further entrenched when those we place in high authority or esteem are just as dismissive of what our culture deems as little sins or inconsequential habits. Or, when they go to the other extreme and only address the most societally maligned, morally egregious, or significantly harmful sins among those God has given them to shepherd and encourage.

The reality we all need to face, however, is that Jesus does indeed sweat the small stuff and His Spirit living inside of each believer won’t be satisfied with 90 percent obedience. Not even 99.5 percent. We can take one glance at the Gospel accounts of His interactions with the religious leaders of the day and immediately realize that God is asking for perfection. Matthew 5:48 states simply: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus knew that no one can be perfect of their own accord. No human could possibly sweat 100 percent of the small stuff to live a life of consistent obedience in everything. No one, except Jesus, of course. His blood, sweat, and tears poured out for us so that we don’t have to do so, that is the utterly beautiful and incomprehensible outcome of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. When we think of it that way and recognize His Spirit dwelling inside of us, then how can we not feel the weight of love, which is trying to seep into every pocket and corner of our being? How can we not see that every detail of our lives and every desire of our heart should submit to His plan for His glory alone? When we hold back a piece of ourselves — even something that is not in and of itself a sin — we are not yielding to the Spirit who, by His very nature, will seek to sweat out everything in our lives, from the so-called big things to the tiniest grains of mistrust and self-centered ambitions. 

This “sweating” process is what Biblical scholars call sanctification, which simply means the process of us becoming more and more like Jesus. Its what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:12-14 when he says we are called to “put to death the deeds of your sinful nature.” And while all of us have big things to wrestle with from time to time, most of what we need to “put to death” on a routine basis in our lives is the small stuff. It’s often the little things that build up over time and bring us down in our walk with God. Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest said, “You were looking for a great thing to give up. God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of it lies the central citadel of obstinacy: ‘I will not give up a right to myself’ — the thing God intends you to give up if you are ever going to be a disciple of Jesus.” This sounds so extreme, doesn’t it? It feels so heavy and burdensome. But Oswald further explains the power and role of grace: “God does not ask us to do the things that are easy to us naturally; He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace, and the cross will come along that line always.”

Nothing about us or what we do is small to God. It all matters to Him. But the great news is Jesus will take care of sweating the small stuff for us. Only He can do it the right way. However, we have to stop using excuses to prevent His Spirit from penetrating, revealing, and dealing with any little things that get in the way of being fully used for His glory.

Daily Bible Readings

Over the next several days as you ponder this topic, the most important thing is to be transparent with the Holy Spirit. Jesus already knows about your tiny things anyway. But the Spirit won’t force a change in you until you’re willing to loosen your grip on the covers concealing them or the rebellious streak that attempts to hide them. Here are some powerful Scriptures to meditate on and journal about in the days ahead. As you listen to them, think of them as mirrors on your soul. When you hear them, what do you see in your life? That’s the Holy Spirit searching your heart and preparing you to receive God’s instruction.

Monday - Read Colossians 3:9-10 in The Message versionIn this passage, Paul likens our sanctification process to that of changing our clothes. When we yield everything and every decision to the Holy Spirit, He will transform it and use it for His glory. Spend time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any “old clothes” that you are hanging on to rather than exchanging them for the radiance of Jesus. 

Tuesday Read Galatians 5:16-24 several times. Think about the contrasting picture it paints between living for the spirit and living for the flesh. As you study the outcomes of each lifestyle, write down anything that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind as something He wants to change or produce in you. 

Wednesday Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. When we learn to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what He wants for us, versus looking at all the things that we want or the problems that surround us, we will gradually be transformed to have more of His perspective and His desires. As you sit quietly, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your circumstances, needs, and concerns in light of God’s plan, versus your own agenda.  

Thursday Read Isaiah 26:3 and Romans 12:2. Similar to yesterday’s verse, we become more like Jesus when we fix our minds on God rather than dwelling on temporary pleasures or suffering. The more we humbly trust in God’s abilities to guide our lives versus our own, the greater wisdom we will have to see where the Holy Spirit is leading. Praise God for the love and wisdom He freely offers you. 

Friday - Read Titus 3:5. Sometimes we try to force our growth process and wish that God would give us bigger things to do for Him. But only the Holy Spirit knows when we’re ready for the next step, which often follows a long time of consistent growth in the “little things.” As we close out this week, seek God’s timing in prayer over the desires of your heart. Ask Him to reveal to you any little things that He’s been asking you to do or change before He can reveal a much bigger step in the future. Ask Him to still your heart and open your ears to even the tiniest of whispers.

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

STUDY GUIDE - EVERYDAY THEOLOGY - ROMANS 8:5-13

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