We ‘ought to’ stop saying ‘ought to’

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 11:00 PM PST

By Jon Walker

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity . . . . Hebrews 6:1 (NIV)

Although God does the heavy lifting in our transformation to Christ-likeness, we still bear the responsibility to keep discipline part of discipleship.

Therefore, we no longer run aimlessly; we have the sizeable objective of becoming just like Jesus. And so, as Paul describes it, we beat our bodies into submission as we press on toward our objective (1 Corinthians 9:26–27).

But, as we’re beating discipline into our thoughts and behavior, we too often slip into beating ourselves up over the inability to do the things we ought to do (Romans 7:16–25).

Here’s the thing, becoming like Jesus is difficult enough without this “Try harder!” mentality we tell ourselves. It sucks us into a cycle of I must, I ought, and I should that leaves us feeling defeated. And that only fuels our cycle to try harder.

This shifts our focus on how we can’t do it—instead of keeping our focus on Christ-in-us, who, having begun a good work in us, “will carry it on to completion” until we see Jesus face-to-face (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

Paul, ever the exhorter, says we’re to push toward the ideal, but his standards are never imperative ought-to statements demanding immediate perfection from us. Perhaps more than any other student yoked to Jesus, Paul understands our desperate need for God’s grace.

We make it our objective to make every effort to mature into believers who think and act just like Jesus. We may slip, we may fail horribly, but we press on to take hold of the abundant life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:12). 

We ‘ought to’ stop saying ‘ought to’ is a post from: GraceCreates Jon Walker is the author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ and Growing with Purpose. He has served on staff at Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Ministries and is currently the managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotionals and the Ministry Toolbox. Contact him at questions@gracecreates.com. This article is copyrighted 2011 by Jon Walker. Used by permission.

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