I have a love/hate relationship with my dentist. How about you? I love leaving his office every six months with clean, smooth teeth, but the process to receive the desired outcome … not so much. And don’t get me started on fillings and crowns—or the bills that come afterwards. Thankfully, so far I’ve avoided the dreaded root canal, implants, dentures, and other unwelcome procedures. I even escaped braces as a kid.
My twelve-year-old granddaughter, Kylie, hasn’t been as fortunate. She’s already endured one round of braces to bring her teeth closer together and correct her bite.
Disturbing news came last year when the orthodontist removed her braces and informed us she had permanent teeth trying to push through, but there was no room for them. He said she’d need four teeth pulled, then braces again to widen her bite to make room in her mouth. What? Didn’t they just take off braces that pulled her teeth closer? You can imagine the frustration and outrage on behalf of my sweet oldest grandbaby.
Last Friday, she had those four teeth pulled and will get her second round of braces in mid-August. She’s been a trooper.
As I considered the painful process of her teeth being removed to make room, I thought about myself spiritually. Sometimes my life can get too crowded and before I realize it, there’s no room for God to push through. Maybe I even paid good money for activities and opportunities that filled the gaps in my time and removed the margin. And I’m not talking about sinful actions, although that can be a concern. I’m referring to good opportunities, family time, hobbies … any distractions in life that tighten my schedule and prevent God’s best in me.
Just like my granddaughter had to have four teeth plucked out to make room in her mouth, we need to ask ourselves, “What do I need to pluck out of my life to make room for God?” This is not easy. It will probably hurt a little … or a lot … depending on how much room you need to make. Spend time on self-evaluation. Consider how many hours you spend on unnecessary activities, and compare it to the time you invest in growing your relationship with the Lord. I daresay we all have room for improvement.
The apostle Paul gives us guidance on some sinful practices we need to yank out of our lives. Check the list and see if there’s anything you may need to pay attention to.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:25, 29-31
Once we remove the excess, we need to fill the gaps with something. We must be intentional with our plan and what we allow into those new spaces because if we’re not, the enemy, and other people, have a plan for us. Check out how Paul wraps up Ephesians 4.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (verse 32)
I admire Paul and his boldness to speak the truth. Maybe that’s why the majority of the New Testament is authored by him. Take a look at his admonishment and counsel in Galatians.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:19-25
Don’t you love how he lumps jealousy and selfish ambition with sexual immorality, idolatry and witchcraft? He leaves no question that we have no room to judge one another because all our sin is equally ugly and needs to be rooted out. And he guides us in what to put in place of those practices … the fruit of the Spirit.
So, will you make a visit to the spiritual dentist today and allow God to pluck out anything that crowds Him out?
Enjoy this song that gives encouragement to make room for God to do whatever He wants to in your life.
Join the conversation. What good activities can crowd God out if you’re not careful? What steps do you take to intentionally create margin in your daily life?
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