“Wait a minute,” you might be saying. I thought I just read this post. Actually, you read that post.
My wife, Anna, went on a Women’s Retreat this weekend with our church, and before she left, she asked me to return a half gallon of milk she bought last week. She said that she had purchased the milk before realizing it was set to expire the following day. She called the store to see if she could make an exchange, and they said that would be fine.
So I went to the store on Sunday afternoon to make the exchange. I explained the situation to the woman at the Customer Service counter, and she told me to go ahead and pick out a new carton. After asking for directions, I headed back to the dairy section. But when I picked up the replacement carton and checked the expiration date, I noticed it was the same as the one I was returning: 4/4/10.
I realized that 4/4/10 was not last week. You might have realized it too. That’s basically a month from now. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I even knew how to read expiration dates correctly, so I turned the carton over and looked for anything else that looked like a date. But 4/4/10 was the only date I could find.
I then realized that Anna had made her purchase on 3/3/10, so I suspected she just made an oversight on the date, focusing on the day rather than the month. I can’t blame her—I do this kind of thing all the time.
But then I thought: “The woman in Customer Service has already said I can make the exchange. And the milk has been sitting in the car for 3 days, so it’s definitely bad now. Maybe I can just make the swap anyway.” And I almost walked out of the store. But then the Spirit spoke to me once more: “How much did you say your integrity was worth?”
I quickly came to my spiritual senses. Of course I couldn’t make this swap. It wasn’t the store’s fault that the milk was bad now—it was mine for leaving in the car for 3 days. And if my integrity was worth more than $2.25, it was certainly worth more than $3.76.
All this reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature; either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself…Each of us at each moment is progressing to one state or the other.
I was amazed by the fact that my decision last week to pay for the train ticket instead of getting away with not paying had not left a deep enough impression on me to make me a person of integrity. In other words, I wasn’t fixed. Here I was again, facing the same moral dilemma, and my instincts were towards evil. But I did notice on this second occasion that it was easier to make the right choice; I had already practiced last week.
I suppose there’s a certain amount of spiritual inertia present in our daily walks with God. The more quickly we submit to the Spirit’s leading in our life, the easier it becomes to continue walking with Him. But every step we take off the path, going deeper and deeper into the mire, the harder it becomes to turn back.
God grant us the mercy and favor to continue making small, right choices each day, to become more and more of a heavenly creature, so that when He asks us to make a big, right choice, we find it to be one of the easiest decisions of all.
Question: Do you find obedience gets easier each time you obey, and vice-versa?