“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 NIV).
“Daily.” There’s something about daily habits. What we do every day eventually adds up to weeks, months, years, and even a lifetime. Daily habits, while seemingly small and insignificant, add up. Our daily habits or disciplines tend to have a shaping affect on our character.
All of us have certain daily habits. We shower, brush our teeth, comb our hair, drink a cup of coffee, etc. These are the things we do to get our bodies ready for another day. We recognize the need for having clean, prepared bodies and faces before we “face” the public. We use a lot of products getting ready. One of them is soap. Whether it comes in a bar or a bottle, we use soap to help cleanse the dirt and odors of yesterday’s activity from our bodies.
Most of us learned this habit of daily cleansing from our parents. I still remember my mother saying, “Gary, come here! Let me look behind your ears!”
I always had trouble getting clean behind my ears, at least to my mother’s exacting standards. But after years of daily practice, I finally passed my mother’s scrutiny. I don’t know if all mothers are this strict, but my mother was always concerned that someone would notice her son’s dirty ears (Or underwear. Heaven forbid that you were in an accident and didn’t have on clean underwear.).
I wonder if our spiritual lives deserve the same “daily” attention? Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross daily.” Does taking up our cross, the instrument of dying to the old life, somehow become like the habit of using soap? Having received new life in Christ, how are we to grow up in our salvation? Does this involve certain daily disciplines?
I think it does. While developing spiritual habits or disciplines will not earn grace for us, these disciplines can cause us to grow in our desire and ability to live out of this grace, becoming more mature in our following of Christ.
With this in mind, I offer to you a daily habit of devotion that I learned from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. He calls it S.O.A.P.
S – Scripture. Read a daily portion of the Bible, listening for God’s voice.
O – Observation. Ask questions like “who, what, where, how, when?”
A – Application. Ask “How does this apply to me?”
P – Prayer. Pray that God would help you apply His Word.
Maybe we could pray, “God, would You look behind my spiritual ears to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything. Reveal any area that I need to bring to the cross in order to find cleansing and transforming life there.”
Using spiritual S.O.A.P. makes for a great daily habit. Who knows what character might be shaped by a lifetime of such daily use?
This article is a reprint of my blog from 2/13/09.