“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” —1 Peter 3:8
Today’s readings remind us of the attitudes and behaviors God wants from us, specifically in how we interact with each other. 1 Peter 3:8 holds Christ-followers to a high standard: we are called to have unity of spirit, love for each other, tender hearts, and humble minds. These aren’t actions we can check off a to-do list; these require total transformation. It’s not just about doing the things we’re called to do; it’s about being who we’re called to be.
How do we begin to pursue this kind of transformation?
Do you desire this kind of transformation? Honestly, sometimes I do; but at other times, my motivation feels flat and lacking. Sometimes, if I’m honest with myself, I just don’t want what God wants. It’s discouraging to try to live as God’s disciples when our will isn’t aligned with his.
In the book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says something that I need to be reminded of regularly. He makes this statement about the spiritual discipline of meditation: “Anyone who imagines he can simply begin meditating without praying for the desire and the grace to do so, will soon give up.” What I love about this statement is the idea that I can pray for the desire to do something.
When we don’t feel like treating people with compassion or showing humility, we can pray to change; but we can also ask God to help us want to change. We can ask to want our hearts and attitudes to be transformed. When we are feeling bitter or jaded or resistant, when we are lacking energy or motivation, we can ask God to help us want what he wants.
This means I can go beyond praying, “God help me to trust you” by asking, “God, help me to want to trust you.” I can say, “God help me to want to pray for my enemies” when it doesn’t come easily. When I feel like holding tightly to what I have, I can say, “God help me to want to be generous.” I can ask to want unity, sympathy, love, tender-heartedness, and humility. We can ask for these things boldly, because God invites us to come to him with our every need. Nothing is off limits.
There is no part of our lives that we have to attend to on our own. God is part of all of it. Wherever you struggle to follow Christ, may you turn to God in prayer for what you need.
Gracious God, help align my will to yours. Help me to want what you want, to see things as you see them, to love as you love. Wherever I am tempted to give up, help me to turn to you to keep going. Amen.