I hope that you are developing more consistently your intimacy with God, inviting Him in on all of your life circumstances. Where you need to be truthful, you choose to tell yourself the truth; where you need to accept the grace of God, you receive the fullness of His love by His death for you; where you need to forgive, you forgive; where you need healing, you invite the Presence of Jesus to heal your heart; and where you need to grieve, you welcome the God of Comfort to sit with you. I hope that you have a greater understanding of the spiritual forces of darkness and recognize the enemy’s advances in your life, agreeing with the works of Christ, sending them to the cross in Jesus’ Name by the blood of the Lamb. I trust you are choosing to “live as a child of Light,” bringing joy and delight to God’s heart and pursuing a life journey of change and growth.
In this article let’s reflect on four spiritual core values. At the very center of your being are identity, intimacy, and integrity, which then flow out to your fourth core value, humility. You have the most influence when you develop these three at your core and then, like a waterfall, release them to flow in loving others, from a servant’s heart, with humility. It is imperative that you develop a strong core so that you can stand, no matter the storm that may enter your world. Your personality, roles, position, ministry, or finances do not belong in your core because they do not have sufficient sustaining power to deal with a major crisis. Your relationship with God from these three values will provide for you the strength, hope, and help you will need, no matter your challenge.
First, your identity is in Christ. This means that your relationship, your position with God, is not based on your works or performance. Your identity as His beloved son or daughter is not based on what you do or don’t do; it is based on what He did for you. You need only to believe and receive His grace. There is no greater identity that will sustain you in all of your life circumstances.
Your identity consists of God’s truthful words to you about His relationship to you as your God and Creator. The words that were spoken to Daniel by God are true for you too: ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’ (Daniel 10:19, NLT). If your parents failed to share with you how much you are loved and valued, how beautiful and strong you are, all that is special about you as a person, it is imperative that you take God at His word and believe Him. These are His personal words to you: you are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12, NIV).
His desire for you has nothing to do with your performance. Believe every word He has to say to you about your value and acceptance, because this is the basis of your identity in Him. You are who God says you are. You are not what your wounds speak to you from past experiences, your personal judgments about yourself, what unhealthy relationships may have conveyed to you, nor what the media portrays to you. You are what God says you are!
This is your identity: holy and dearly loved. Your identity has been secured by God. It is from this identity that you develop your intimacy, your personal relationship with God. Hold fast to this Scripture: Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy (1 Peter 2:10, NLT).
Intimacy is developed from your personal “sit place with God,” your daily, ongoing dialogue with Him. Just as in human relationships, you cannot develop intimacy in human relationships without a deep sharing of your thoughts and feelings; so is it true with God. As you experience life, you share with Him your struggles, worries, fears, challenges, hurts, joys, and desires, trusting His love to care for you and work out all things for your good because you love Him and He loves you. You share with Him your thoughts, your feelings about those thoughts, and your deep desires and longings within each and every daily life experience. Then you choose to listen to His voice through the Holy Spirit, His truthful words reminding you of your secured identity in Him, and trusting what He shares with you in response to what you have shared with Him.
Communication is the dialogue that keeps you connected, no matter your situation. This connection opens up the way for your obedient response. Your obedience is a very powerful dimension of developing intimacy with God. It is similar to your human relationships: when someone shares with you what you can do to care for his heart, you follow through. God values your response in loving Him through your obedience.
Here is one definition of intimacy that may help you along this intimacy journey with God and then with others. Intimacy is the daily awakening in your relationship(s) that leads towards openness, vulnerability, nurturing acceptance, being fully enriched and satisfied in closeness, and a deepening desire and delight to know and be known within the relationship. There is no end to growing intimacy; it is a daily pursuit for a lifetime. Start your intimacy journey with God and then allow it to flow to other trustworthy relationships.
Psalms 34 exemplifies this intimacy: I will bless the Lore at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalms 34:1-8, NKJV).
It is from your identity in Christ and your intimacy with Him that you will discover the pathway toward a lifestyle of integrity. This is the third dimension of developing a strong spiritual core. Pursuit of God is your highest calling and the basis of your integrity. Perfection is not the goal. You are only as strong as you believe truthfully and receive gracefully all that God speaks to your heart. This is why your personal relationship with God must be nurtured daily. Only in this relationship will He shape and form you into Christlikeness. From this place of personal intimacy with God, you listen, trust, and obey the words He speaks to you. Obedience is imperative; only full obedience, not partial, is acceptable to God.
Your integrity is revealed in your life by your attitude, character, choices, and responses as displayed in the fruits of the Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:22, 24-26, NKJV).
Your words and behaviors need to match. How you live your life privately needs to be the same publicly. Practice daily these words from the Scriptures: And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us...Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)...be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:2, 8-9, 18-21, NKJV).
Humility is the fourth value that is needed to strengthen your core. It is the outflow of your identity, intimacy, and integrity in your relationship with God. Humility is the bending low to lift up another, the same heart of Christ expressed in Philippians 2: [Christ], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, NIV). As James reminds us, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, NKJV).
Humility is your heart’s attitude in serving others. Here are a few more examples: medical teams serve in places where they give of their time and assets to those who could never repay them. It is also shown when a family of five will care for another family of five children so their parents can have some time away. Or when monies saved for a family vacation are given away due to another’s need for moving expenses and much needed car repairs. Serving others from the place of humility puts value on him or her. There is no greater gift of humility to offer to another than to honor them as God-created individuals in sharing in their needs.
As you continue to strengthen your spiritual core every day, humility will be the overflow of your personal relationship with God. Be very mindful that it is the outflow, separate from your identity, but linked. It is an honor to serve and love others. It is important to learn to bless others’ giftedness and accomplishments, focusing on their growth and betterment, versus undermining them with negativity and fault-finding. The enemy will do that very well without your help. You do not want to be in agreement with the enemy, but in agreement with God, choosing to forgive, pray, serve, love, and help one another on life’s journey. Together, you can each lead by example, growing and learning from each other. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done (Matthew 16:24-25, 27, NIV).
Your Vision Statement
One last thought for you to consider in serving others: I believe God created you with a vision for your role in the kingdom of God. Within that vision is your mission: how you walk out your vision in serving others. I encourage you to write down your vision statement given to you by God: the one thought that defines you. Keep it short; perhaps a few words will capture it. Some examples are: restored relationships, worship warrior, financial carrier, or creative. Then write down your mission: the ways you walk it out daily in your life. For example, mine is restored relationships and how I walk it out is in five ways: counseling, mentoring, teaching, writing, and praying. Remember that not all will be present in all seasons of life. You gradually will learn the ways to walk out your vision as you day after day, year after year, walk with God.
One last word: “permanence.” I want to speak to this most powerful word as you continue on your God journey. Permanence is defined as “the quality or state of being permanent” or lasting.8 In other words, what you see is who I am consistently: the only change from day to day is I get better and better over time!
A life of permanence is a consistent lifestyle of growth and betterment, nurtured by daily habits of well-being. It is important to reflect to the watching world the life of Christ in our daily responses to life experiences. It is not putting on a Sunday dress, but wearing our everyday life values both privately and publicly. What the world needs to see from morning to night is Christlikeness. What the world (your husbands, wives, children, bosses, co-workers, neighbors, and all others) sees in our daily habits must be the very essence of our being. It is how we live our lives day in and day out; what is seen in the open places is the same behind closed doors. Only then can we have influence for greater growth and betterment to the world around us.
Permanence is not an ongoing striving towards perfection. It is a daily progression of Christlikeness.
Dr. Roselene Coblentz