I’d just finished painting all the walls, two coats with a quality paint. The next step: to apply white enamel to the baseboards to set off the new tan walls, so I grabbed the handy and thoroughly cleaned 3” Purdy brush I’d used on the kitchen enamel. That’s the one on the right in the pic. It worked well for the first 20’, but began to hold more paint than I could scrape off, and it began to drip onto the new tile floors. Not a good thing.
And, once again, that reaffirmed what’s close to an absolute truth. I had to stop to clean the first brush, and rustled through three boxes of painting gear to find my trusty 2” Purdy. The one on the left, which did a marvelous job on the rest of the 140’ of base. And, still I saved time by taking the time to clean the wrong brush to use the right one. The near absolute truth? The right tool beats a convenient tool.
Walking with Jesus also requires the right tools for the right jobs. The kicker: identifying the essence of the problem and then the right tool to solve it. Let’s explore the foundational truth, followed by an example.
The painting and brush manufacturers design their products for specific needs. So who best says a particular brush will work best on a particular job? The designer. So, in growing in God, let’s use his expertise to discover the right spiritual tool for each issue. Spiritually, we often base these decisions on our gut, how we feel. Or which seems easier at the time. Or what others tell us. Or, what we’ve done before. But that often causes us to use a sledge hammer to drive a finish nail flush to the wood. Ain’t gonna happen. So, first let’s check out the operator’s manual for life, God’s word.
Now, here’s an example on using the right tool in resisting temptation. First, like Jesus, go to the operator’s manual. In his wilderness temptation, Jesus responded to temptation with a biblical verse. He wanted to be sure he linked the problem with the right solution. But, each temptation had a different verse, which leads to the next issue in selecting the best spiritual tool.
Paul gave us a tip here, “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…but will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV). In seeking the tool, determine if you already have enough strength to handle it. For me, I have much more than enough spiritual strength to resist the temptation to overeat zucchini. But for some others, I need the escape route. An old story from the sailing days tells of a smuggler offering a ship’s captain $100 to take some contraband to the next port. He said no, and the amount went up to $500. Another no led to another raise, to $1000. At this point the captain grabbed the smuggler and tossed him overboard, and the mate asked why. “He was getting too close to my price.”
Now, use this principle and example to discover the best tools to use in growing closer. That involves areas such as regular Bible reading, prayer, service, connection with others. That would make a book…hmmm. Maybe later. Until then, use this process to avoid dripping paint onto the tile floors of your life.
Kick Starting the Application
Have you intentionally thought of evaluating and selecting the best spiritual formation tools for your spiritual growth? How might your process be different than others? What tools do you have available for you to select from for various issues? Which have worked the best in the past? Which have caused paint drips?