Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. - 1 John 3:21-22
There is an unpublished mystery in this verse which changes our thought on it.
When I was released from prison and took my job at Signcraft, I went from being outdoors most of my working life — as a Telstra liney, in a garden supplies, and as an inmate at Dhurringile prison — to being cooped up in a noisy factory without the sun and elements I loved so much.
It was a change I didn't take to very well. I was thankful to the Lord and my mates for getting me the job, but my mouth and thoughts were far from that, often condemning me.
Factory work is difficult at first, especially at the pace at which we were going. I was like a bird new to a coop. You know how they fly all around the coop, flapping all over it, looking for a way out? They do not stop. My mind was like that. In fact, despite it being a recession, after the first few weeks, I was going to take on a trainer's job that only would have lasted five weeks, so desperate I was to free myself.
After a while, though, I settled down, got to know the staff and systems better and ended up staying there for two terms of five years. I was converted. I performed a range of jobs — shop floor supervisor, purchasing officer, transport manager, OHS Officer, Training committee chair, etc. I got to enjoy the place very much. When I left the second time, the CEO said he would have given me any job in the facility if I remained there. I gave the glory to the Lord for that testimony. Even now, I am thankful for Signcraft and am much richer for my experience there.
So, what is the mystery with the verse?
The mystery is in keeping the Lord's commandments and those things that are pleasing in His sight.
If we don't follow the Lord's commandments and those things that please Him, our hearts will condemn us. We will be like the double-minded people who are unstable in all their ways. Both their thoughts and actions condemn them because they know what they should do but are reluctant to do them.
Keeping the things which please the Lord often starts off difficult because we are learning new systems that control our nature; much like I was at Signcraft. When we fight against the right ways, we fight against the Holy Spirit within, who is trying to convert us to the right life. He is trying to help us.
In the early days at Signcraft, I was inadvertently fighting the Holy Spirit. The Lord wanted me to stay awhile, but I wasn't on board at all. I was fighting every inch of the way, not realising I was fighting against the Holy Spirit. Just like Balaam and the ass, my folly was not evident to me.
I wanted the money which the work brought in, but didn't want the control measures that came with that, the noise and the cooping up in the factory, despite it being large.
Only after I accepted the changes and began enjoying the organisation and its systems was I asked to get involved in other things, and became quite successful at them.
After giving our hearts to the Lord, we can become like some people who join groups. They are members with little responsibility. However, we forget we are called to a royal priesthood, and therefore, need to see ourselves as part of the the leadership committee converted to the rules and principles, not simply a group member.
When we understand the Lord's systems and persuade ourselves to the thought of keeping them, we get more converted to His ways, more converted to the personal and civil righteousness of those systems, and to the holiness that comes with them.
The flip side is that we naturally get less interested in worldly things and the sin which comes with them. The Lord's desires squeeze out the cravings for sin and faulty living. We are do not have to try and sin less, because the Lord is converting us to His nature where will have no desire to sin. This way is the proper method of conversion.
When that happens, more and more we think like Him and act like Him, so when it comes to praying for things, we pray more according to His will. Therefore, the likeliness of receiving an answer is far greater. We are less in that situation of condemnatory conflict, and can have confidence in the prayer that the answer will be in the affirmative.
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the confidence I can have that my prayers will be answered, and not hit-and-miss. Please help me to be converted to keeping your commandments and ways, so my nature can be changed to your nature, and we can enjoy a more involved relationship.